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Koine Greek Grammar: Greek Moods


As mentioned in our last blog, the mood of a Greek verb indicates how certain the author is that the action of the verb will take place. Here's the brief description we gave for each mood:

a. Indicative – statements of fact

b. Imperative – commands or requests

c. Subjunctive – statements of possibility or purpose

d. Optative – statements of wish or potentiality

e. Infinitive – verbal noun

f. Participle – verbal adjective

Let's look at each more closely and give some English examples.

Indicative—the indicative mood presents information as true. For example, "Yesterday, I ate pizza for dinner. Today, I am eating pizza for dinner. Tomorrow, I will eat pizza for dinner."

Imperative—the imperative mood is used to give commands, prohibitions, and to make requests. For example, "Take out the trash!" "Do not eat too much pizza!" "Please bring me my phone."

Subjunctive—the subjunctive mood expresses purpose, possibility, deliberation, and hortatory statements. For example, "I'm buying mozzarella cheese in order to make pizza for dinner." "Whenever we eat pizza, I always love it." "Should we have pizza for dinner tonight?" "Let us make pizza for dinner tonight!"

Optative—the optative mood expresses potentiality and wishes. The optative and the subjunctive are close friends; the optative usage in Koine Greek was slowly being replaced by the subjunctive mood. Here are some examples, "If you would like, we could have pizza for dinner tonight." "Oh that we would eat something besides pizza for dinner!"


Infinitive—the Greek infinitive is a verbal noun. It's part verb and part noun. In English, infinitives may follow the word "to" in order to form verbal compliments. For example, "I hope to eat pizza for dinner." "I'm writing this blog to help folks learn Koine Greek." More rarely, infinitives may render a verbal idea as a noun: "To live is pizza, to die is stuffed pizza."


Participle—the Greek participle is a verbal adjective. Similar to the infinitive, it's part verb and part adjective. In English, participles are usually formed by adding -ing to a verb. For example, "While walking to the pizza shop, I lost my wallet." "I saw the boy eating lots of pizza."


We hope this review of the Greek mood has been helpful. Next time, we'll turn our attention to tense.


To your studies!


[This blog is an adaptation of Dr. Long's treatment of moods as found in his Koine Greek Grammar.]


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