Learn Biblical Greek

Conjugation or Inflection of Greek Verbs



Content
[go] Construccion of Verbs
[go] Omega Verbs
[go] Contract Verbs
[go] Liquid Verbs
[go] MI Verbs
[go] Irregular Verbs
[go] The Infinitive

Construction of verbs
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Due to the nature of inflected languages, verbs in Greek are more complicated and contain a great deal more information than verbs in English. English verbs merely identify an action or state of being. It depends on surrounding or support words to make clear who is involved in the action or state, and in many cases the time of the action or state. In contrast, inflected languages like Greek convey all of that information in the construction of the verb. The verb is actually made up of parts that play special roles in communicating meaning to the reader or listener.

To understand a Greek verb it is necessary to take it apart and identify the value of its basic parts. This process is call "parsing" the verb. Similar to other languages, in Greek there are 5 basic elements contained in the verbal idea. They are Voice, Mood, Tense, Person, and Number. Each plays an important part in understanding the meaning of the verb. For a detailed discussion of the meaning of Greek verbs, take a look at the Syntax of Verbs.

The key points to understand with regard to the construction of a verb are:

Part 1: Voice - There are 3 voices in Greek: active, middle, and passive. Voice indicates the relationship of the subject to the action.

Part 2: Mood - Mood indicates the relation of the action to reality. The moods in Greek are: indicative, subjunctive, optative, and imperative. Some authorities include the infinitive as well, while other do not as it acts like a verbal noun and isolates the action from reality.

Part 3: "Tense" - "Tense" normally refers to the time of the action or state of being of the verb. However, this is not the case in Greek. Instead, Greek verbs focus first on the type of action and then on the scope and viewpoint of the action. For this reason, some scholars prefer to use the term "conjugation" instead of "tense". The active voice in Greek has 6 tenses or conjugations: present, imperfect, future, aorist, perfect, and pluperfect.

Parts 4 and 5: Person and Number - There are 3 classes of grammatical person in Greek (the same as English), and they can be either singular or plural in number. (Originally Greek had 3 numbers: singular, dual, and plural. The dual number indicated that the action was completed by 2 persons. However, by the time the Greek Scriptures were written, the dual form had disappeared from use and it does not occur in the Bible.)

 

Singular

Plural

First Person 

 The person speaking

I, me

We, us

Second Person 

 The person spoken to

You

You *

Third Person 

 The person spoken about

He, she, it

They, them

* Note that in English the singular and plural forms are the same.

Building the verb. There are 3 parts to verbs: the stem, the personal ending, and the augment. The stem of the verb is the part that remains unchanged through the process of inflection or conjugation and contains the basic meaning of the verb. To be able to parse any verb correctly it is necessary to accurately identify the stem. The augment is put in front of the stem for the past tenses, and usually occurs in the indicative mood. It is necessary to separate the augment from the stem in order to find a verb in a lexicon or dictionary. The personal ending of the verb is added after the stem. There are 6 personal endings (corresponding to person and number) for each voice-mood-tense combination (whew!). While that may seem like a lot to learn, with practice you will be able to quickly identify at least the more commonly used forms.

There are two types of verb conjugation patterns that must be learned, called the -w and -mi conjugations. The omega type is the more common and should be learnt first. Verbs of the -mi type only differ from the -w type in the present, imperfect, and second aorist. In addition, there are contract verbs (where certain letters are combined) and irregular verbs.

The Omega-type Verb Conjugation
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Nearly every Greek grammar that I have or have ever seen uses as its sample verb for conjugation the verb luw, "I loose" (first person, singular, present, active, indicative) for its examples of how to conjugate the verbs of the Omega conjugation. Who am I to do any different? (Actually, it is very difficult to get words with a stem any longer than 2 letters into the chart. Maybe that is why [...].) The stem for the verb luw is lu-. In the following charts you will notice the various endings. These endings need to be practiced in order to be remembered.

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Indicative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luw

lueiV

luei

luomen

luete

luousi

Imperfect

eluon

elueV

elue

eluomen

eluete

eluon

Future

lusw

luseiV

lusei

lusomen

lusete

lusousi

Aorist

elusa

elusaV

eluse

elusamen

elusate

elusan

Perfect

leluka

lelukaV

leluke

lelukamen

lelukate

lelukasi

Pluperfect

elelukein

elelukeiV

elelukei

elelukeimen

elelukeite

elelukesan

 

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luw

luhV

luh

luwmen

luhte

luwsi

Aorist

lusw

lushV

lush

luswmen

lushte

luswsi

Perfect

lelukw

lelukhV

lelukh

lelukwmen

lelukhte

lelukwsi

 

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

lue

luetw

 

luete

luetw[sa]n

Aorist

 

luson

lusatw

 

lusate

lusatw[sa]n

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Indicative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luomai

luV

luetai

luomeqa

luesqe

luontai

Imperfect

eluomhn

eluou

elueto

eluomeqa

eluesqe

eluonto

Future

lusomai

lusV

lusetai

lusomeqa

lusesqe

lusontai

Aorist

elusamhn

elusw

elusato

elusameqa

elusasqe

elusanto

Perfect

lelumai

lelusai

lelutai

lelumeqa

lelusqe

leluntai

Pluperfect

elelumhn

eleluso

eleluto

elelumeqa

elelusqe

elelunto

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luwmai

luV

luhtai

luwmeqa

luhsqe

luwntai

1st Aorist

luswmai

lusV

lushtai

luswmeqa

lushsqe

luswntai

2nd Aorist

lipwmai

lipV

liphtai

lipwmeqa

liphsqe

lipwntai

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

luou

luesqw

 

luesqe

luesqw[sa]n

Aorist

 

lusai

lusasqw

 

lusasqe

lusasqw[sa]n

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Indicative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luomai

luV

luetai

luomeqa

luesqe

luontai

Imperfect

eluomhn

eluou

elueto

eluomeqa

eluesqe

eluonto

Future

luqhsomai

luqhsV

luqhsetai

luqhsomeqa

luqhsesqe

luqhsontai

Aorist

eluqhn

eluqhV

eluqh

eluqhmen

eluqhte

eluqhsan

Perfect

lelumai

lelusai

lelutai

lelumeqa

lelusqe

leluntai

Pluperfect

elelumhn

eleluso

eleluto

elelumeqa

elelusqe

elelunto

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

luwmai

luV

luhtai

luwmeqa

luhsqe

luwntai

Aorist

luqw

luqhV

luqh

luqwmen

luqhte

luqwsi

 

W - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

luou

luesqw

 

luesqe

luesqw[sa]n

Aorist

 

luqhti

luqhtw

 

luqhte

luqhtwsan
luqentwn

Contract Verbs
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Contract verbs have stems that end in a short vowel: a, e, or o. When the personal ending that is attached to the stem begins with a vowel or diphthong, then contraction occurs. Due to the form of the personal endings, this only occurs in the present and imperfect tenses of the different moods.

Stem ending

Start of Ending

Contract

a

w, o, ou

w

a

ei, V

a

a

e, h

long a

e

w

w

e

o, ou

ou

e

e, ei

ei

e

h

h

e

V

V

o

w, h

w

o

o, e, ou

ou

o

ei, V

oi

Liquid Verbs
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Liquid verbs have stems that end in with a liquid consonant: l, m, n, or r. The liquid consonant rejects the s which is present only in the future and first aorist tenses. In the future tense an e is added to the stem and then the verb is treated like a contract verb where the stem ends with an e. In the aorist, the short vowel preceding the liquid consonant is made long in the following pattern:

a = h; e = ei; short i = long i.

The -MI Verb Conjugation
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Verbs in the MI conjugation are more irregular than the W verbs. Since they occur less frequently than the W verbs, the student will probably have to refer regularly to a good lexicon or dictionary.

  MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Indicative Mood
  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didwmi

didwV

didwsi

didomen

didote

didoasi

Imperfect

edidoun

edidouV

edidou

edidomen

edidote

edidosan

Future

dwsw

dwseiV

dwsei

dwsomen

dwsete

dwsousi

2nd Aorist

edwka

edwkaV

edwke

edwkamen

edwkate

edwkan

Perfect

dedwka

dedwkaV

dedwke

dedwkamen

dedwkate

dedwkasi
dedwkan

Pluperfect

ededwkein

ededwkeiV

ededwkei

ededwkeimen

ededwkeite

ededwkeisan

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didw

didwV

didw

didwmen

didwte

didwsi

2nd Aorist

dw

dwV

dw

dwmen

dwte

dwsi

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Active Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

didou

didotw

 

didote

didotwsan
didontwn

Aorist

 

doV

dotw

 

dote

dotwsan
dontwn

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Indicative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didomai

didosai

didotai

didomeqa

didosqe

didontai

Imperfect

edidomhn

edidoso

edidoto

edidomeqa

edidosqe

edidonto

Future

dwsomai

dwsV

dwsetai

dwsomeqa

dwsesqe

dwsontai

2nd Aorist

edomhn

edou

edoto

edomeqa

edosqe

edonto

Perfect

dedomai

dedosai

dedotai

dedomeqa

dedosqe

dedonta

Pluperfect

ededomhn

ededoso

ededoto

ededomeqa

ededosqe

ededonto

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didwmai

didw

didwtai

didwmeqa

didwsqe

didwntai

2nd Aorist

dwmai

dw

dwtai

dwmeqa

dwsqe

dwntai

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Middle Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

didoso

didosqw

 

didosqe

didosqw[sa]n

Aorist

 

dou

dosqw

 

dosqe

dosqw[sa]n

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Indicative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didomai

didosai

didotai

didomeqa

didosqe

didontai

Imperfect

edidomhn

edidoso

edidoto

edidomeqa

edidosqe

edidonto

Future

dwqhsomai

dwqhsV

dwqhsetai

dwqhsomeqa

dwqhsesqe

dwqhsontai

2nd Aorist

edoqhn

edoqhV

edoqh

edoqhmen

edoqhte

edoqhsan

Perfect

dedomai

dedosai

dedotai

dedomeqa

dedosqe

dedonta

Pluperfect

ededomhn

ededoso

ededoto

ededomeqa

ededosqe

ededonto

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Subjunctive Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

didwmai

didw

didwtai

didwmeqa

didwsqe

didwntai

2nd Aorist

doqw

doqhV

doqh

doqwmen

doqhte

doqwsi

 

MI - Verb Conjugation Chart - Passive Voice, Imperative Mood

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

 

didoso

didosqw

 

didosqe

didosqw[sa]n

Aorist

 

doqhti

doqhtw

 

doqhte

doqentwn
doqhtwsan

Irregular Verbs
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Life (or Greek) would be difficult enough if we just had to learn the above charts, but to further complicate the matter for us, there are a significant number of verbs that just don't follow the rules. Some of these occur frequently while others do not. When reading the Greek Scriptures, it is handy to have at hand an Analytical Greek Lexicon, such as the one published by Zondervan. It has saved me hours of research more than once! One of the most common of the irregular verbs is eimi , which means "to be". Because of its importance, I have included a complete chart of its conjugation.

 

eimi Verb Conjugation Chart

  Singular Plural
  1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person

Present

eimi

ei

esti[n]

esmen

este

eisi[n]

Imperfect

h[n]

hsqa

hn

hmen

hte

hsan

Future

esomai

esei esV

estai

esomeqa

esesqe

esontai

Subjunctive

           

Present

w

hV

h

wmen

hte

wsi[n]

Imperative

           

Present

 

isqi

estw

 

este

estwn

In Walter Mueller's Grammatical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, he includes a helpful chart of 37 of the more common or important irregular verbs. I have shamelessly plagiarized the idea for the following chart from his book. (It is a useful reference work, and I recommend getting it.) The chart shows the first person singular indicative for each of the tenses. I have deleted those forms that do not occur in the Greek Scriptures.

Pres-Active

Futr-Active

Aorist-Actv

Perf-Active

Perf-Mid/Pas

Aorist-Pass

English

aggellw

aggelw

hggeila

 

hggelmai

hggelhn

announce

agw

axw

hgagon

 

hgmai

hcqhn

lead

airw

arw

hra

hrka

hrmai

hrqhn

lift up

airew

elw

eilon

hrhka

hrhmai

hreqhn

take

akouw

akousw

hkousa

akhkoa

 

hkousqhn

hear

amartanw

amarthsw

hmarthsa
hmarton

hmarthka

 

hmarthqhn

sin

apollumi

apolesw

apwlesa

apwlwla

   

destroy

bainw

bhsomai

ebhn

bebhka

   

go

ballw

balw

ebalon

beblhka

beblhmai

eblhqhn

throw

boulomai

 

eboulomhn

   

eboulhqhn

desire

ginomai

genhsomai

egenomhn

gegona

gegenhmai

egenhqhn

become

ginwskw

gnwsomai

egnwn

egnwka

egnwsmai

egnwsqhn

know

grafw

grayw

egraya

gegrafa

gegrammai

egrafhn

write

didaskw

didaxw

edidaxa

   

edidacqhn

teach

didwmi

dwsw

edwka

dedwka

dedomai

edoqhn

give

diwkw

diwxw

ediwxa

dediwka

dediwgmai

ediwcqhn

run

dunamai

dunhsomai

edunamhn,
hdunamhn

   

hdunhqhn,
hdunasqhn

can, be able

egeirw

egerw

hgeira

eghgerka

eghgermai

hgerqhn

raise up

ercomai

eleusomai

hlqon

elhluqa

   

come

esqiw

fagomai

efagon

     

eat

euriskw

eurhsw

euron

eurhka

 

eureqhn

find

ecw

exw

escon

eschka

   

have

     

teqnhka

   

die

isthmi

sthsw

esthsa

esthka

 

estaqhn

stand

kalew

kalesw

ekalesa

keklhka

keklhmai

eklhqhn

call

krinw

krinw

ekrina

kekrika

kekrimai

ekriqhn

judge

lambanw

lhmyomai

elabon

eilhfa

eilhmmai

elhmfqhn

take

menw

menw

emeina

memenhka

   

remain

oraw

oyomai

eidon

ewraka,
eoraka

 

wfqhn

see

pascw

 

epaqon

peponqa

   

suffer

piptw

pesoumai

epeson,
epesa

peptwka

   

fall

strefw

streyw

estreya

 

estrammai

estrafhn

turn

swzw

swsw

eswsa

seswka

seswmai

eswqhn

save

tassw

taxw

etaxa

tetaca

tetagmai

etaghn

arrange

tiqhmi

qhsw

eqhka

teqeika

teqeimai

eteqhn

place

ferw

oisw

hnegka

enhnoca

 

hnecqhn

bear

fhmi

erw

eipon

eirhka

eirhmai

errequn,
errhqun

say

The Infinitive
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The infinitive is a verbal noun. It has few forms and is not declined.

Forms of the Infinitive

Tense Active Middle Passive

Present

luein

luesqai

luesqai

Future

lusein

lusesqai

luqhsesqai

1st Aorist

lusai

lusasqai

luqhnai

2nd Aorist

lipein

lipesqai

liphnai

Perfect

lelukenai

lelusqai

lelusqai

Well, that's [almost] it! It is true that there are still a number of minor variations that must also be learnt with time, but the above will give you a good general knowledge of the form of Greek verbs. Check the section on Syntax for more information on how the different verb forms are used.


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