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GRAMMAR GLOSSARY

 

accent

 A mark placed above a vowel (or second vowel of diphthong) to indicate the pitch of the syllable as:
  • rising (acute a& ),
  • falling (grave a_ ),
  • or rising then falling (circumflex a~ );

invented circa 200 BC.


 

accidence

 Technical term for the area of grammar which deals with changes in individual words and their endings.
 

accusative

 Technical term for the case which indicates
  • the object or recipient of a verb of action: r(i/ptei to_n ce/non He strikes the stranger,
  •  or, with prepositions, generally of the place targeted: pro_j to_n a)gro&n towards the field.

 

active

 The voice of a verb when the subject performs the action:
  • He strikes the stranger;

the other voices are middle and passive.


 

adjective

 A word which describes or identifies a noun, and agrees with it in case, gender and number:
  • h( kalh_ qea&  The beautiful goddess;

an adjective can also be used as a complement:

  • h(   )Afrodi/th e0sti kalh&  Aphrodite is beautiful.

The adjective may be a combination of 1st and 2nd declensions:

  • kalo&j, kalh&, kalo&n

or 3rd and 1st declensions:

  • h(du&j, h(dei=a, h(du&  pleasant

or 3rd declension with no separate feminine:

  • safh&j, safe/j clear.

 

adverb

 An adverb accompanies a verb and describes its action, usually indicated by -ly in English:
  • He walks quickly.

 

agent

 The person indicated as the one who performs the action when the verb is is the passive, usually introduced with by:
  • The stranger was struck by the guard;

cf. instrument.


 

agreement

 The rule that requires an adjective, pronoun or participle to have the same case, gender and number as the noun it describes, or a verb to have the same number as its subject.
 

antecedent

 Usually a noun that is further described by a relative pronoun:
  • The girl whom I saw.

 

aorist

 The normal past tense of a verb which gives a single completed action:
  • I came, I saw, I conquered.

It is usually marked by an initial augment and is classified as:

  • strong:   e1lipon I left
  • or weak:   e1pausa  I stopped.

 

article

 See definite article; indefinite article.
 

augment

 A prefix e- added before the verb stem as a marker to indicate that the verb is in the past tense (imperfect, aorist or pluperfect):
  • pau&w I stop,  e1pausa I stopped.

 
 

 

 

breathing

 A mark essential to any word beginning with a vowel or rho (r-) indicating that the vowel is:
  • aspirated (rough breathing: h(donh&, r(odo&n)
  • or not aspirated (smooth breathing: a)gora& ).

 
 

 

 

cardinal numbers

 The most common numerals given in Greek by letters of the alphabet with a special mark:
  • a / , b / , g /  (1, 2, 3)

 

case

 The form of a noun, pronoun or adjective that shows by its ending its role in the sentence as
  • subject (nominative case)
  • object (accusative)
  • possessor (genitive)
  • indirect object (dative)
  • person addressed (vocative)

there are also other uses for the indirect cases (accusative, genitive, dative) usually indicated by associated prepositions.


 

clause

 A string of words which contains a verb, usually understood as a main clause which can stand on its own:
  • (we shall leave soon)

and a subordinate clause which depends on a main clause to complete its sense:

  • (when the sun sets we shall leave)

 

comparative

 The form of an adjective or adverb that indicated more, usually expressed by adding -er in English (stronger),  -teroj  in Greek (i0sxuro&teroj).
 

comparison

 The comparison of an adjective or adverb indicates the forms in the
  • positive (strong)
  • comparative (stronger)
  • superlative (strongest)

 

complement

 An adjective or noun which completes the sense of the verbs be, become, seem and is in the nominative as it describes the subject:
  • the judge is wise
  • she became queen

 

compound verb

 A verb which extends its meaning by prefixing a preposition:
  • e0k-bai/nw  I go out.

 

conjugation

 The scheme of verb forms according to their different endings:
  • pau&w
  • pau&eij
  • pau&ei
  • pau&omen
  • pau&ete
  • pau&ousi

The correct expression is to conjugate a verb but decline a noun.


 

conjunction

 A conjunction normally introduces a clause which depends on a main sentence:
  • I cannot leave before my father comes.

 

consonant

 A letter of the alphabet (e.g. b, g, d) that is not a vowel, but which combines with a vowel to form a syllable.
 

contraction

 The natural shortening of two vowels sounds into one, in which the weaker is assimilated to the stronger as:
  • file/w  >  filw~ 
  • tima&ete  > tima~te

 
 

 

 

dative

 The case of a noun used for the:
  • indirect object: I gave him a book
  • instrument: he was killed by an arrow
  • or with some prepositions: he swam in the river

 

declension

 The scheme of the different cases of nouns, adjectives and pronouns and their division into the forms of first, second and third declension.
 For example to decline lo&goj is to give the second declension endings as:
 

Singular

 

 

Plural

 

lo&goj lo&goi
lo&gon lo&gouj
lo&gou lo&gwn
lo&gw|  lo&goij

 

definite article

 The grammatical term for the word the:
  • in Greek  o(,  h(,  to&, 

which agrees with the noun it points out and defines

(see also: indefinite article)


 

dental consonant

 Consonants pronounced with the teeth, namely:
  • t  (soft)
  • d  (hard)
  • q  (aspirated)

 

deponent

 A verb with active meaning but middle or passive form.
 

diaeresis

 A sign of two dots placed over the second of two vowels but beneath the accent which shows that the two should be pronounced separately and not as a diphthong as:

 

e0n th~| nhi5  

on the ship.

 

diphthong

 Two vowels giving one sound as aisle in English,  ai0  in Greek.
 

direct object

 The recipient of the action of an active or transitive verb as:

r(i/ptei li/qon

 

He throws a stone.

 


 

dual

 A rare number, between singular and plural, referring to two taken together, which may have a separate form for adjectives, nouns and verbs as:

tw_  a)delfw&  

 

the two brothers

 


 

 

 

enclitic

 An unimportant word which has no accent and cannot stand alone, but 'leans back on' a preceding word which may then have its last syllable accented.
 

ending

 One or more letters added to the stem of a noun, adjective or verb to show its function in the sentence.
Such a modification is formally called an inflection.
 

 

 

feminine

 See gender.
 

future

 The tense that refers to a time after now, usually indicated in Greek by a sigma added to the verb stem.
 
 

 

 

gender

 Greek nouns, adjectives and pronouns are classified as masculine, feminine or neuter, but nouns which English regards as things are not necessarily neuter, but may be:
  • masculine as o( li/qoj stone
  • feminine as h( oi0ki/a house

 

genitive

 Technical term for the case which indicates the possessor:

 

oi9 tou~ qeou~ lo&goi

the words of the god / the god's words

(shown in English by adding  's)

 

or, with prepositions, generally of the place of departure:

a)po_ tou~ a)grou~ 

from the field

 

guttural consonant

 Consonants pronounced in the throat (sometimes called 'velar'):
  • (soft)
  • g  (hard)
  • x  (aspirated)

 
 

 

 

hiatus

 A break between two vowels which end one word and begin the next;
this is generally avoided in Greek by dropping the first vowel and indicating the loss with an apostrophe;
if the second vowel has a rough breathing then the aspirated form of the preceding consonant is used:

 

  • u(po_ au)tou~  by him becomes  u(p' au)tou~ 
but
  • u(po_ h(mw~n  by us becomes  u(f' h(mw~n

 

 

 

imperative

 The mood of a verb which gives a command to one or more people (you singular or plural) in present or aorist tense as:
  • e0lqe/ e0lqe/te deu~ro  come here.
Greek also has a rarer third person imperative equivalent to let him / let them come.

 

 
 

imperfect

 The past tense of a verb indicating an action previously ongoing or repeated and usually marked by an initial augment:
  • e1rgafon eu]  I was writing / I used to write well.

 

impersonal verb

 A verb which has no actual personal subject (I, you, they)
but is used in the third person singular (it) for a continuous state of affairs,
usually with a following infinitive:
  • xrh_  fugei=n  it is necessary to / we must run away.

 
 

indefinite pronoun

 A pronoun with no particular reference, as:
  • tij  someone
  • ti   something
Indefinite pronouns, like indefinite adverbs such as pote  sometime and pou  somewhere,
have no accent and are enclitic.
 
 

indefinite article

 Greek has a definite article:
  • o(,  h(,  to&   the
but not an indefinite article (a, an)
although tij, ti (indefinite adjective: some, any) may be used.
 
 

indicative

 The mood of a verb which indicates the normal statement as:
  • positive:  le/gei  he is speaking
  • negative:  ou) le/gei  he is not speaking
  • interogative:  a}ra le/gei;  is he speaking?
The indicative may be in any tense or voice.
 
 

indirect object

 A noun or pronoun in the dative which gives the recipient of the direct object, usually with verbs of giving or telling:
  • le/gei toi=j pai=si mu~qon  He is telling the children a story
  • pare/xei au)toi=j dw~ron  He offers them a gift

 
 

infinitive

 The mood of a verb which names it, equivalent to to [do] in English:
  • gra&fein  to write
The tense of the infinitive may be present, future, aorist or perfect.
 
 

inflection

 See ending.
 

instrument

 A noun in the dative which indicates a thing by means of which an action, often passive, is performed:
  • bla&ptetai liqw|   he is hurt by a stone
If the action is due to a person, not a thing, this is called the agent,
and the genitive case is used (with the preposition u(po&).
 
 

interrogative

 A sentence which asks a question:
  • a}ra kaqeu&dei; Is he sleeping?
An interrogative pronoun or adverb introduces a question:
  • ti/j le/gei;  Who is speaking?
  • pou~ oi0kei=j;  Where do you live?
Unlike their indefinite counterparts the interrogative forms are accented and come first in the sentence.
 
 

intransitive

 A term used of a verb which does not take an object as:
  • bai/nw  I walk
See also transitive.
 
 

 

 

labial consonant

 Consonants pronounced with the lips, namely:
  •   (soft)
  •   (hard)
  •   (aspirated)

 

liquid consonant

 Technical term for the consonants l and p,
which, because of their 'flowing' sound act almost like vowels.
 
 

 

 

masculine

 See gender.
 
 

middle voice

 Between active and passive, and identical to the passive form in present, imperfect and perfect tenses, the middle returns directly to the subject with reflexive sense:
  • louo&mai   I wash (myself)
or indirectly:
  • ai9rou~mai  I take for myself / I choose
There are also middle deponents which are middle in form, active in meaning:
  • ma&xomai   I fight

 
 

mood

 The technical term for the various functions of a verb,
comprising (in Greek):
  • indicative
  • imperative
  • infinitive
  • subjunctive
  • optative

 

 

 

nasal consonant

 Consonants pronounced through the nostrils, namely n and also m.
 
 

negative

 The opposite of positive, involving no or not;
Greek has the word ou) for a negative statement and mh& for a negative command, infinitive, subjunctive and sometimes optative.
 
 

neuter

 See gender.
 
 

nominative

 Technical term for the case which names or describes the subject or complement of a verb:
  • h( qea& a)kou&ei   The goddess listens
  • e0sti kalh&    She is beautiful.
 
 

noun

 A word which names a person or a thing; it is distinguished by:
  • gender  (masculine, feminine or neuter)
  • case      (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, vocative)
  • number (singular, plural)
  • declension (first, second, third)

 
 

number

 Number distinguishes nouns, adjectives and verbs as:
  • singular  (one of them)
  • plural    (more than one)
  • dual   (two counting as one): [this is rare]
 
 

numerals

 The three kinds of numerals are:
  • cardinal   (1, 2, 3 ...)
  • ordinal     (1st., 2nd., 3rd. ...)
  • adverbial  (once, twice, thrice ...)
 

 

 

optative

 The mood of a verb which basically expresses a wish:
  • eu)tu&xoio  May you have good luck
 
 

ordinals

 See numerals.
 
 

 

 

parsing

 Analysing a word into its various grammatical forms as:
  • kalh|~  dative, singular, feminine
of the adjective
  • kalo&j,  kalh&, kalo&n  beautiful
also
  • pau&sei  3rd person, singular, future indicative active
of
  • pau&w,  pau&sw,  e1pausa  I stop

 

particle

 A common short word that connects words and sentences:  (kai/, de/  and)
or contrasts them: (a)lla&  but)
or emphasises them: (ge, dh&  indeed).
 
 

participle

 A very common Greek form derived from a verb and so with voice (active, middle or passive) 
and tense (present, future, aorist, perfect),
but, since it is also an adjective it agrees with its noun in gender, case and number, e.g.:
  • path_r filw~n   a loving father
  • path_r filou&menoj   a loved father
It can often translate a when, while or who clause:
  • a)fiko&menoi e0deipnh&samen  after arriving (or when we had arrived) we dined

  • oi0 teqnhko&tej   (those who have died)


 
 

passive

 The voice of a verb which indicates that the subject is the recipient of the action of the verb:

o( strathgo&j tima~tai u(po_ pa&ntwn

The general is honoured by all.

The passive has a form distinct from the middle in the future and aorist.
 

penultimate

 Literally: The last but one,
i.e. the second syllable in a word of three syllables.
eg 
 

perfect tense

 The perfect is used for a past action with results continuing into the present,
marked by reduplication (doubling of the initial consonant with -e-):
  • gega&mhka   I have married
  • gegra&ptai  It has been written
For a past action without present connotations the aorist is used in Greek.
 
 

person

 The technical term for the subject of a verb as:
  •  first     singular and plural (I, we)
  • second  (you)
  • third     (he, she, it, they)

 
 

personal pronoun

 The pronouns corresponding to the persons are:
  • e0gw&     I
  • h(mei=j   we
  • su&        you (sing.)
  • u(mei=j   you  (pl.)
For the third:  au)to&j,  au)th&,  au)to&  is used for  he, she, it,
and au)toi/  for they.
 
 

pluperfect

 The perfect tense in the past, rarely used and marked by augment and reduplication:
  • e0gegamh&kh    I had married
  • e0ge/grapto   It had been written

 

plural

 See number.
 

positive

 Affirmative (not negative);
also, in comparison:
  • the basic adjective or adverb without endings added for the comparative or superlative.

 
 

prefix

 A letter, such as an augment, syllable or word (often a preposition),
added to the beginning of a word, especially a verb:
  • e1graya   I wrote
  • ei0sh~lqon   I entered

 
 

preposition

 A word that goes with a noun to indicate time, place or other circumstances connected with it.
The case of the noun may then be accusative, genitive or dative:
  • ei0j to_n potamo&n    into the river
  • a)po_ tou~ potamou~  from the river
  • e0n tw|~ potamw|~       in the river

 
 

pronoun

 A word that replaces a noun to avoid repetition,
and which takes its number and gender:

o(ra|~ ta_j gunai=kaj kai\ kalei= au)ta_j 

He sees the women and calls them.


 

 

 

reduplication

 The doubling of an initial consonant with -e-, characterising the perfect and pluperfect tenses:
  • gegra&ptai    It has been written.

 
 

reflexive pronoun

 A pronoun of the 'self' form that refers back to the subject of the main verb:
  • e1legon ei0j e0mau~ton   I was talking to myself.

 
 

relative pronoun

 The pronoun translated who, whom, whose or which introducing a clause which describes a noun:

o( r(h&twr o$j e0painei= to_n dh~mon

The speaker who praises the people

However, Greek tends to use a participle rather than a relative pronoun:
  • o( r(h&twr e0painw~n   The speaker praising


 

 

 

singular

 See number.
 

stem

 The part of a verb, noun or adjective which expresses its root meaning,
and to which endings (and sometimes prefixes) are added:

 

-maq- is the stem of e1maqon  I learnt
which also appears in maqhth&j pupil, and ta_ maqhmatika&  things learned /mathematics
 
 
 

subject

The person or thing responsible for the action of a verb,
expressed by the nominative case:
  • o( lo&goj sw&zei  The word saves.

 
 
 

subscript

 In Greek the letter iota is sometimes written underneath the long vowels a, h, w as a|, h|, w|,
especially in the dative singular of first and second declension nouns as:
  • e0n th~| a)rxh|~  in the beginning

but this iota is written in full to the right of capitals:
  • )EN THI   0ARXHI


 
 
 

subjunctive

 A mood of a verb in present or aorist characterised by a long vowel in the ending, with a variety of senses as:
  • i1wmen  let's go
  • i3na i1wmen  so that we may go

 
 
 

suffix

 See ending, prefix
 

superlative

 The form of an adjective or adverb that indicates most,
usually expressed by adding -est in English (strongest), -tatoj in Greek (i0sxuro&tatoj).
 
 

syllable

 A unit of sound containing a vowel, alone or with one or more consonants, which make:
  • a word (ga&r  for)
  • or part of a word (pa - th&r  fa - ther)

 

syntax

 The area of grammar concerned with the construction of sentences.
See also accidence
 
 

 

 

tense

 The word denoting the time of the action or state of a verb, which may be:
  • present
  • future
  • imperfect
  • perfect
  • pluperfect  (rare)

 
 

transitive

 A term used of a verb which requires a direct object to complete its sense as:
  • filw~ [tina&  / tiI love [someone / something]
See also intransitive.
 
 

 

 

vocative

 The case of a noun used for addressing a person,
usually prefixed by w} :
  • w} Zeu~    O Zeus
  • w} fi/le   My dear

 
 

voice

 The form of a verb which shows the relation of the subject to it as:
  • active:
h( mh&thr lou)sei to_n pai=da
The mother will wash the child
  • passive:
o( pai=j louqh&setei u(po_ th~j mh&troj
The child will be washed by the mother
  • middle:
h( mh&thr lou&setai
The mother will wash herself
 
 

vowel

 The letters a, e, h, i, o, w, u
these can form a syllable alone or in combination with one or more consonants.
 

 

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