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Koine Greek Grammar: An Overview of Verbs

Updated: May 3, 2020

Welcome to our new blog series!

Over the next several months, we'll be walking (sometimes, out of order!) through Dr. Long's Koine Greek Grammar to provide you all with a quick review on key topics. Our hope is this series will help you stay or return to the Greek text.

First up? Verbs!

The Greek verb is the heart of the Greek sentence and has a number of components:

1. Person – Is the subject me? You? He, she, it? Us? You all? Them?

a. First Person – involves me (I or we)

b. Second Person – involves you (you or you all)

c. Third Person – involves someone else (he, she, it or they)

2. Number – Is the subject singular or plural?

a. Singular – I, you, or he/she/it

b. Plural – We, you all, they

3. Mood – How certain is the author that the action of the verb will come to pass?

a. Indicative – statements of fact

b. Imperative – commands or requests

c. Subjunctive – statements of possibility or potentiality

d. Optative – statements of wish

e. Infinitive – verbal noun

f. Participle – verbal adjective

4. Tense – There are three main points (and many sub-points!) of tense to analyze:

a. Traditional designation (with the time of the action in the Indicative Mood)

i. Present – "he says" or "he is saying"

ii. Imperfect – "I was saying"

iii. Future "they will say"

iv. Aorist – "you said"

v. Perfect – "I have said"

vi. Pluperfect – "you had said" b. Verbal aspect

i. Imperfective (present, imperfect) – incomplete, internal, on-going

ii. Future (future) – expectant

iii. Perfective (aorist) – complete(d), external, viewed as whole

iv. Resultative-stative (perfect/pluperfect) – complete(d) with on-going, resultant effects

c. Type of action (Aktionsart)

i. Durative/linear (present/imperfect/future)

ii. Punctiliar (aorist/future)

iii. Resultative (perfect/pluperfect)

5. Voice – How is the subject related to the verb?

a. Active – the subject is doing or performing the action of the verb

b. Middle – the subject is involved in or benefited by the action of the verb

i. Reflexive or reciprocal middle

ii. Middle of personal interest

iii. Permissive middle

c. Passive – the subject is the recipient of the action of the verb

In the coming months, we'll examine each of these components in more detail. For now, we hope this was a good refresher on just how much information can get packed into one little Greek word!

To your studies!

[This blog is a shortened adaptation of pages 47-53 in Dr. Long's Koine Greek Grammar.]

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