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The Verb: Past Tenses: Imperfect

Synopsis Augment Imperfect
Endings Active & Middle ei0mi/ 
Examples Exercises ********

 

Synopsis

 

The present active pau&w translates I stop (momentary) or I am stopping (continuous), and similarly the future active pau&sw translates I shall stop or I shall be stopping.

 

In past tenses the two aspects are distinguished:

 

the imperfect e0pau&on translates I was stopping (continuous) and the aorist e1pau&sa I stopped (momentary).

 

The perfect is not, in Greek, a true past tense, but refers to a present state resulting from a past action, so pole/moio pe/paumai of Achilles who stopped fighting and still keeps himself out of the war.

 

The pluperfect is a past perfect, i.e. for a past state resulting from an action further back, and is rarely used.

 


 

A past tense is immediately recognised from the past-marker or augment, an initial e0- added as a prefix before the verb stem, with the past endings added as a suffix, so:
  • e1-pau-on,
  • e1-pau-sa.
If however the verb stem already begins with a short vowel, this is lengthened for the augment.

 

a

 

>

 

h

 

a!gw

 

I lead

 

h}gon

 

I was leading

 

e > h e0qe/lw I wish h!qelon I was wishing
 

 

or

 

ei

 

(sometimes)

 

e1xw

 

I have

 

ei]xon

 

I had

 

i

 

>

 

i

 

(short to long)

 

 i9keteu&w

 

I plead

 

 i9ke/teuon

 

I was pleading

 

o

 

>

 

w

 

o)noma&zw

 

I name

 

w)no&mazon

 

I was naming

 

u

 

>

 

u

 

(short to long)

 

u(bri/zw

 

I insult

 

u#brizon

 

I was insulting

 


 

i in the diphthongs  ai-   oi- goes subscript:
ai9re/w I take h#|roun
oi0ke/w I live, dwell w!|koun

 

h,  w,  ou,  ei         stay unchanged

 

r(-  doubles after augment:

r(i/ptw

I throw

e1rripton

 

In compound verbs the augment is after the preposition and next to the verb stem:

 

prosbai/nw I approach prose/bainon
ei0sbai/nw I enter ei0se/bainon

 

The e- of the augment is so important that it takes precedence over a final -a or  -o of the preposition, so:

 

a)pobai/nw I go away from a)pe/bainon
katabai/nw

 

I go down

 

kate/bainon

 

e0kbai/nw I leave e0ce/bainon

Past Tenses: (i) The Imperfect:

 

The imperfect tense is used for an action continued or repeated in the past, or for a state of affairs holding over an indefinite period in the past.

 

e1grafe

he was writing
he repeatedly wrote
he was going to write
he started to write

 

The imperfect tense is made from augment + verb stem + endings

 

Endings: 1st. s. 2nd. s. 3rd. s. 1st. pl. 2nd. pl. 3rd. pl.

active*:

-on -ej -e -omen -ete -on

middle:

-omhn -ou -eto -omeqa -esqe -onto
*Note:
 In the active the endings are the same for I and they; the meanings have to be understood from the context.

 

These endings are important because they are also used (on a different stem) for the strong aorist.

 


The following is the pattern of the Imperfect Active and Middle

 

active middle middle verb

I wanted

e1luon e0luo&mhn e0boulo&mhn
e1luej e0lu&ou e0bou&lou
e1lue(n) e0lu&eto e0bou&leto
e0lu&omen e0luo&meqa e0boulo&meqa
e0lu&ete e0lu&esqe e0bou&lesqe
e1luon

 

e0lu&onto

 

e0bou&lonto

 


 

-a- verb

-a- middle

 qea&omai I was watching

 

a + e / h > a e0qew&mhn
a + ei > a|  e0qew~ 
a + o / ou > w e0qea~to
e0qew&meqa
e0qea~sqe
e0qew~nto

 


-e- verb

-e- middle

fobe/omai I was afraid

 

e + e > ei e0fobou&mhn
e + o > ou e0fobou~ 
e0fobei=to
e0fobou&meqa
e0fobei=sqe
e0fobou~nto

 


The common irregular verb ei0mi/ I am has only one past tense, and that is the imperfect:

 

h}n (h} ) I was
h}sqa you were
h}n

 

he was

 

h}men we were
h}te you were
h}san

 

they were

 


Imperfect Active and Middle: Examples

 

Present

a)gw&  I lead
fe/reij you carry
gra&fousi they are writing
ai9rou~si they take
katabai/nei he goes down
boulo&ntai

 

they want

 

Imperfect

h}gon I was leading
e1ferej you were carrying
e1grafon they were writing
h|#roun they were taking
katebai/ne he was going down
e0bou&lonto they wanted

 

ou)k e0feu&gen a)ll' a)ei/ e0ma&xeto.

He did not used to run away but always fought.

 

oi9 me\n e1diwkon, oi9 de\ ei3ponto.
Some were pursuing, others following.

 


Imperfect Active and Middle: Exercises

10(i)

Put into the present middle, and imperfect active and middle:

 

  p.m. i.a. i.m.
lu&omen      
pau&ei      
fe/rousi      
pe/mpw      
pei/qousi      

Now check your ANSWERS here.

10(ii)

Translate:

 

eu!xontai   h)u&xonto  
e0rga&zomai   ei0rgazo&mhn  
poreuo&meqa   e0porou&omeqa  
fobei=tai   e0fobei=to  
ei], e0ste/   h}sqa, h}te  

Now check your ANSWERS here.

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