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The Verb

Present & Future lu&w Being Examples
Questions & Negatives Conjunctions Reading Exercises


The Greek verb is characterised by:

VOICE active I defend
  middle I defend myself
  passive I am defended
TENSE present I help, am helping
  future I shall help, shall be helping
  imperfect I was helping, started / continued / used to help
  aorist I helped
  perfect I have built
  pluperfect I had built [rare]
MOOD indicative I help
  subjunctive I may / let me help
  optative I might / wish I could help
  imperative help!
  infinitive to help
PERSON three persons 1st, 2nd, 3rd
NUMBER singular I (1st), you (2nd), he / she / it (3rd)
  plural we (1st), you (2nd), they (3rd)
  dual [rare] for two together

There are also Participles which are Adjectives:

and Gerunds which are Nouns:


  this is different from the present tense: the children are-writing,

where writing is not a participle or gerund, but part of the present tense with are, equivalent to the children write.


There are two main groups of verbs:

  1. those ending in     -w     (the majority)
  2. those ending in     -mi

THE VERB: Present and Future Indicative Active

  Singular Plural

The endings:


-w, -eij, -ei


-omen, -ete, -ousi(n)


are added to the verb stem  e.g. lu- for the present: lu&w I release etc.
and to the verb stem lu + s- for the future: lu&sw I shall release etc.


If the subject is not expressed separately it is understood (as a pronoun) from the person and number of the verb ending:
lu& - omen we release, we are releasing
lu&s - ousi(n)


they will release, they will be releasing


Present and Future Tenses cover the momentary action:
  • le/gei he says (this)
  • kelu&ei he gives an order

and the continuous:

  • le/gei he is speaking
  • keleu&sei he will be commanding.

Present Indicative Active of  lu&w, I release, am releasing:


lu&-w I release   lu&-omen we release
lu&-eij you (sing.) release   lu&-ete you (pl.) release
lu&-ei he / she releases *   lu&-ousi(n) they release


* English rarely uses it [3rd p. sing.] with an active verb.


Future Indicative Active of  lu&sw, I shall release, shall be releasing:


lu&s-w I shall release lu&s-omen we shall release
lu&s-eij you (sing.) will release lu&s-ete you (pl.) will release
lu&s-ei he / she will release * lu&s-ousi(n) they will release


The letter  is sometimes added to a final short vowel  -e  or  -i   
at the end of a sentence or before a word beginning with a vowel to avoid hiatus and finish more firmly:
lu&ousi dou&louj. dou&louj lu&ousin. lu&ousin au)tou&j.


Some common verbs in  -w:

 a)kou&w  bai/nw  ble&pw  gra&fw
I hear I go I see I write
 diw&kw  eu(ri/skw  e1xw  le/gw
I pursue I find I have I say, speak
 speu&dw  fe/rw  feu/gw  
I hurry, speed


I carry, bring


I flee, run away



A verb in  -mi, irregular but very important, is the present tense of being:

 ei0mi I am
 ei0 you are (s.)
 e0sti(n) s/he is
 e0smen we are
 e0ste you are (pl.)
 ei0si(n) they are

Present Tense Examples:

 a0kou&w  diw&kete  speu&domen
I hear you pursue (pl.) we hurry
 bai/nousi  eu9ri/skw  fe/reij
they go I find you are carrying
 ble/pei  e1xete  feu&gousin
he looks you have (pl.) they run away
 gra&fomen  le/gei  e0sti
we write


he is speaking


s/he is


he hears they pursue you find
 a)kou&ei  diw&kousi  eu(ri/skeij
you are he is hurrying we are going


















  I sacrifice I order I stop I educate I believe

Future Tense Examples:

 qu&somen  keleu&sousi  pau&sei
we shall sacrifice


they will command


he will stop


 paideu&sw  pisteu&sei  pau&sete
I shall educate


he will believe


you will stop


 qu&seij pai/deu&sei  keleu&somen
you will sacrifice


he will educate


we shall command



A verb is made negative by prefixing:


  • ou)      normally
  • ou)k    before a vowel with smooth breathing
  • ou)x   before a vowel with rough breathing
 ou) le/gei he is not speaking
 ou) lu&sei he will not release
 ou)k e1xei he does not have

(k avoids hiatus)

 ou)x eu(ri/skei he does not find

(the h sound in the rough breathing softens the previous k to x)

A verb is made interrogative (i.e. turned into a question) by prefixing:


  • a}ra      normally
  • a}r 0       before a vowel
(remember: English semi-colon ; = Greek question mark ?)


With a present verb that is not continuous English uses the auxiliary verb do, does to complete the sense:


 le/gei he is speaking, he speaks
 ou) le/gei he is not speaking, does not speak
 a}ra le/gei;


is he speaking? does he speak?



 a}ra ble/pete;  a}r 0 a0kou&ousin;  a}ra feu&gousin;
are you looking?


are they listening?


do they run away?


 ou0 diw&komen  ou0k a0kou&omen  ou0x eu#riskei
we are not pursuing we are not listening he does not find


CONJUNCTIONS join verbs: e.g.






and not

and join sentences, especially with these three words which come SECOND in the sentence:

 de/ and / but (adds information)
 ga&r for (gives the reason)
 ou]n therefore, and so (gives the result)


 ble/pei a)ll 0 ou)x eu(ri/skei.  ou)k a)kou&ei ou)de\ ble/pei.
He looks but does not find.


He is not listening and he is not looking.


 ou) le/gei a)lla_ gra&fei.  ou) le/gei: gra&fei ga&r.
He does not speak but he writes.


He does not speak; for he is writing.


 feu&gousin, di/wkei ga&r.  ble/peij: eu(ri/skeij ou}n.
They run away, for he is pursuing.


You look and so find.


Are we going? for they hurry. She educates, and so we listen.
 a}ra bai/nomen: speu&dousi ga&r.


 paideu&ei: a)kou&omen ou}n.



 o( fi/loj e0stin a!lloj au)to&j.
A friend is a second self.  (In Latin: alter ego)


 o(  3Omhroj tou_j   0Aqhnai/ouj paideu&ei.
Homer educates the Athenians.


 a)rxh_ h#misu pa&ntwn.
Beginning is half of the whole (well begun is half done)




Present Tense Exercise:

[Read aloud &] Translate into English:
 a)kou&omen  diw&kw  speu&dei
 bai/neij  eu(ri/skeij  fe/rete
 ble/pousi  e1xete  feu&gei
 gra&fomen  le/gousin  e)smen
 a)kou&omen a)ei\ kai\ gra&fomen.
 ou) feu&gete a)lla_ speu&dete.
 feu&gousi: diw&komen ga&r.
 ou)k a)kou&omen: gra&fomen ga&r.
 h(  0Aqh&nh a)kou&ei a)ll 0 ou) le/gei.
 ble/pw a)ll 0 ou)x eu(ri/skw.
 ou) le/gousin: a}ra bai/nousin;
 ou) ble/pei ou)de\ gra&fei.
 a)ei\ diw&komen: feu&gousin ou}n.
 o( Poseidw~n a)ei\ diw&kei.

Now check your ANSWERS here.


Translate into Greek:


he has we hurry they carry I look
we find they speak we go they are
are you writing? we are going.
they aren't chasing but fleeing.
we listen but do not speak.
I hurry, for he is running away.

Now check your ANSWERS here.


Future Tense Exercise:

[Read aloud &] Translate into English:
 qu&sei  pau&sousi  keleu&sw
 paideu&sei  pau&sete  pisteu&somen
 o(  0Apo&llwn keleu&sei.
 h(  9Eka&bh kai\ h( Kasa&ndra qu&sousin.

Now check your ANSWERS here.

Try this reading:
 e0smen kai\ ou)k e0smen.
We are and we are not.
[An enigmatic fragment, perhaps from Heraclitus.]
 e0n au)tw~| zwh\ h]n , kai\ h( zwh_ h]n to\ fw~j (light) tw~n a)nqrw&pwn (of men)
In it was life, and the life was the life of men
 kai\ to\ fw~j e0n th~| skoti/a (darkness) fai/nei.
and the light shines in the darkness.


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