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Imperatives and Infinitives

Synopsis Patterns Examples
Exercises ******** ********




The imperative mood of a verb gives an order usually in the second person (singular or plural) and is often accompanied by the person addressed expressed in the vocative as:
  • e0lqe\ deu~ro  w} Fi/lippe   come here Philip!
  • kaqi/zesqe  w} pai=dej   sit down, children!

There is, less commonly, a third person imperative in -etw, -ontwn for let him / let them come, and for the first person imperative a subjunctive is used: feu&gwmen  let's run away!

The imperative can be present or aorist.

A negative command (don't in English), called a prohibition, does not use ou) (which is generally reserved for statements and questions) but a second negative mh& as
  • mh_ di/wke to_n ku~na  don't chase the dog!
  • mh_ le/gete toiau~ta  don't say such things!
The infinitive mood of a verb gives it its name: gra&fein  to write.

Although as a mood of a verb it has a voice (active, middle or passive) and a tense (present and aorist, sometimes future or perfect) and is qualified by an adverb, grammatically it acts as a neuter noun as a subject or object; with the article, it can also be used in the genitive and dative.

It completes the sense of some verbs which require another action as an object:

(I want to stay, I must go, we do not fear to fight, he instructs us to keep silent)

and of neuter adjectives:

(it is impossible to sleep, it is sweet to see the light).

The difference between present and aorist in the imperative and infinitive is generally not one of time but of duration,

present for continuous and aorist for momentary.

Since the aorist imperative and infinitive indicate decisive action they are more common than the present, especially with verbs that have a strong aorist, and since they do not refer to the past they do not have an augment but the aorist ending is added to the basic aorist stem.

For contracted verbs the usual vowel rules apply to give filei=n  to love, fobei=sqai  to fear,

but the -i- drops in -aw and -ow verbs to give tima~n  to honour and plhrou~n  to fill.

Imperative and Infinitive patterns:






Active Middle
Present lu&e lu&ete lu&ou lu&esqe lu&ein lu&esqai
(repeated, continuous) release   ransom   to release to ransom
Aorist (weak) lu&son lu&sate lu~sai lu&sasqe lu~sai lu&sasqai
(no augment, momentary) release   ransom   to release to ransom
Present lei/pe lei/pete gi/gnou gi/gnesqe lei/pein gi/gnesqai
(repeated, continuous) leave   become   to leave to become
Aorist (strong) li/pe li/pete genou~ ge/nesqe lipei=n ge/nesqai
(no augment, momentary) leave   become   to leave to become


ei0mi/ : i1sqi e1ste ei]nai
  (2nd. sg. Imperative be) (2nd. pl. Imperative be) (Infinitive to be)




pei/qe tou_j poli/taj h@ pei/qou au)toi=j. Persuade the citizens or obey them.
ti/ma tou_j qe/ouj. Honour the gods.
mh_ boa~te: si/gate.


Don't shout; be silent.


boh&qei  (boh&qe-e)  toi=j fi/loij. Help your friends.
bohqei=  (bohqe/-ei)  toi=j fi/loij.


He helps his friends.


Note that the accent distinguishes the imperative from the statement in this example,

so also:

poi/ei tou~to

do this

poiei= tou~to


he does this


labe\ e0kei/nouj. Seize them.
maqe\ tou~to. Learn this.
lipe\ ta_ dw~ra. Leave the gifts.
mh_ fobei=sqe to_n tau~ron. Don't be afraid of the bull.
genou~ o(moi=oj tw|~ qew|~. Become like to the god.
gnw~qi  (from gignw&skw)  sau~ton. Know yourself.
bou&lomai ponei=n eu}. I want to work well.
bou&lomai tou=to poih=sai eu}. I want to do this well.
deino&n e0sti ma&xesqai toi=j qeoi=j. It is dreadful to fight the gods.
sofo&n e0sti paqei=n a)ndrei/wj.


It is wise to suffer bravely.






gra&fe tou~to.  
  Seize him.
i1sqi a)nfrei=oj.  
  Come again.
fi/lei tou_j polemi/ouj.  
  Become wise.
ti/ma to_n poih&thn  
  Listen to that man.
It is difficult to learn many things well.  
  kalo&n e0sti i0dei=n ta_ de/ndra.
He orders us to go away.  

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