the sum total of my knowledge Greek so far (Learning a little Greek part 15

In a few days I am going to do a short two day course in NT Greek. I want to put in one place all that I know and push on a bit further so I am in the best possible place to keep up over the next few days.

1) the alphabet

no. Greek key name example comments
1 α a alpha father  
2 β b beta ball  
3 γ g gamma gift  
4 δ d delta den  
5 ε e epsilon bet  
6 ζ z zeta zoo  
7 η h eta they, ate  
8 θ q theta thing  
9 ι i iota bit ee-ota or eye-ota
10 κ k kappa kitchen  
11 λ l lambda lamb  
12 μ m mu mother  
13 ν n nu nice  
14 ξ x xi taxi  
15 ο o omicron omelet  
16 π p pi pen pie or “pea”.
17 ρ r rho rock slight role to the r
18 σς s j sigma send j at the end of a word
19 τ t tau tennis  
20 υ u upsilon put, foot  
21 φ f phi phone  
22 χ c Chi (he) bach  
23 ψ y psi lips  
24 ω w omega bone  

2) diphthongs

diphthong example        
αι aisle        
ει eight (no distinction is made between this and Eta ( h )
οι soil        
αυ automatic (faust), “aw”    
ευ or ηυ deuce feud “you”      
ου soup, “oo”      
υι suite (pronounced sweet), sweet, “wee”, quit

3) breathings

breathing name sound example
smooth silent ἐν “en”
rough h ἑν “hen”

4) accents

accent name
ά Acute

5) verbs

5.1) person number

1st singular I
2nd singular You
3rd singular Them
1st plural We
2nd plural You
3rd plural Them

Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

5.2) Tense

The tense determines the time of action and its consequences
Tenses Example
present continuous action or action in progress, “run”
imperfect continuous action in the past “I was running”
Aorist in the past, “I ran” (not nec. Just once)*
Perfect completed action but continuing consequences, ie “I inherited”, Jesus’ “it is written”
Pluperfect happened in the past and had consequences in the past but not nec. Now. “I had flu”. rare.
Future “I will run” (rare?)
  *can emphasise – beginning: ingressive, conclusion: culminative, or whole:constative)

To be fair I only really “know” about present at present.

5.3) mood

The relation of the action to reality
Moods Example
Indicative it actually happened “he threw”, or question “he threw?”
Infinitive “to run”
subjunctive possibility, “let us”,  “if we run”
Optative more definite than subjunctive but very rare
Participle verbal nouns “ing” words ie “running”
imperative give an instruction “run”

I know about these but have only memorised “indicative”.

5.4) voice

The relationship of the subject to the action
Active “I am doing it” “I wash the car”
Middle I do something to me  “I wash my face” but most of the time middle voice is interpreted as active
Passive it was done to me “I was killed” “I am washed”

I only know about Active so far.

5.5) thematic/athematic verbs

No idea what this is all about yet.

5.6) verb endings

Endings for present, active, indicative verbs (It seems to be those that have the first person singular ending in ω)

person/people english ending sound clue  
1st person singular I ω Oh my    
2nd person singular you εις ais like ace  
3rd person singular he/she/it ει ey as in hay  
1st person plural We oμεν Omen    
2nd person plural you ετε etay  – I wonder why its not ete
3d person plural they oυσι oosee as in Lucy  

A more advanced thing I have seen is how endings change when the verb ends in εω. Looks like you take of the Omega and add the endings and then apply these rules:

ε + ε => ει    
ε + o => oυ    
ε + long vowel ie ω or a diphthong => nothing

I guess that stops a lot of tricky pronunciations.

for example:

φιλεω meaning “I love”

final pre-rules notes      
φιλω φιλεω ε disapears before a long vowel like ω
φιλις φιλεεις εε disapears before a diphthong
φιλει φιλεει ε disapears before a diphthong
φιλουμεν φιλεομεν εο goes to ου    
φιλειτε φιλεετε εε goes to ει    
φιλουσι φιλεουσι εο goes to ου    

6) Nouns

6.1) Declensions

A declension is the inflection (the bit you add to the route) of a noun, pronoun, adjective or article (in English “a”, “an” “the” but there is no indefinite article in Greek which I think means there is no “a” or “an” ) to indicate number, case and gender.

6.2) Cases

The cases are:

Nominative the noun is the subject of the sentence “the apostle ran”
Accusative the noun is the object of the sentence “He hit the ball
Genitive the noun is possessed “The ball of Peter”?
Dative indirect object, for/to/with/by “I say a word to apostles
Vocative addressing someone “John, come here”

Clues : I think I have Nominative memorised as that’s the normal way a noun is talked about and comes first in the English sentence and first in the lists of endings. Accusative is who you are accusing. It’s not the object as I know that already so it must be the other key one, the subject. Mmm not great but it will do. Genitive = possession, of ie the Ball of Jen, She is possessive of her ball. Dative = indirect object, ie to or for, indirectly ask for a date ie “are you doing anything Friday night?”, Dates are usually from and to, ie he lived from 1066 to 1102. Vocative, you have to be vocal to give an address to people.

6.3) Word endings

Here are some common endings for nouns ending in “ος” as modelled for us by “λογος” which means “word”.

λογος = Word    
Case Singular Plural
Nominative λογος Λογοι
Vocative λογε Λογοι
Accusative λογον λογους
Genitive λογου Λογων
Dative λογῳ λογοις

Mmm these are going to be hard to learn. After a few mins I have endings for singular, N, V and A in my short term memory but am worried if I learn the others I will forget even those so I’ll let them settle.

Ok I’ve memorised them all for the singular:

N – I now λογος anyway and that’s just the normal word for Word.

A – λογον sounds like logon. I have no specail way of remembering it other than that for now.

V – λογε has an “eh” ending which someone could say in address to someone.

D – λογω The omega looks like to zeroes “00” that you might get in a date ie “1900” or “19ω”.

G – λογου the ου sounds like “who” as in “who has the ball” to which the answer could be “Jen”.

Few, and thats just the singular. I will have to learn the plural at some stage but I really must let these settle first.

6.4) The definite article

masculine “the” (must match it’snoun’s case, no. and gender)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative οἱ
Accusative Τον τους
Genitive Τον των
Dative τῳ τοις

The endings are the same as λογος except for the Nomanative singular, and there is no Vocative (case of address) which kind of makes sense. You wouldn’t say “Hey, the cat, scram!” you would say “hey cat, scram!”.

I’d better stop there as the water gets more choppy ahead and I have not learnt the nouns stuff properly yet. I am not sure exactly what first and second declensions are on about either. Wiki says that first declension is a category of mostly feminine nouns in Latin and Ancient Greek. Seems to say they have a long “a” in them somewhere and so it’s also called the “alpha declension”.

Second declension nouns have “o” in their form. I think that means they are thematic in “o” theme thing going on. I guess that would mean the first declension nouns are thematic in “a” but Wiki calls it pseudo-thematic. Not sure why. Looks like second declension nouns are either masculine or neuter. Masculine ones have this form -ος and neuter -ον (I think they are talking about the nominative version of the nouns when they say that). λογος which means “word” seems to follow this rule as it is a second declension noun ending in “ος” and according to BibleWorks is masculine. My search for a real life noun in the NT proved more successful than when I went hunting for verbs. Here is “the word” in the famous and profound opening to John’s gospel:

John 1:1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

So there is a singular masculine nominative “the” before it. Not sure why there is some extra accents over two of the letters though. Looking back at BibleWorks there is no accent over the sigma at the end of the word. I think the comma after it has got translated into an acute accent and the dot in the last λογος in the sentence has gone to a grave accent. Not very helpful. I had a very kind offer of help from BibleWorks in response to a previous blog (I was very impressed how they noticed it minutes after I published it and got in touch) so I think I will take them up on it.

I will finish on another technical matter. I am using the keyman program ( with the Galaxie Unicode font loaded into it to input my Greek. It works really well so I may buy it when the trial period runs out in a few days.

Oh!! I’ve just seen a heading in one of my books that said “Third declension”. Oh dear. How many declensions are there? I don’t think I want an answer to that question just yet….


One thought on “the sum total of my knowledge Greek so far (Learning a little Greek part 15

  1. Great resource you’ve created here. It’s interesting how the pronunciation of certain letters has changed over time. Like beta and delta. The beta sounds like vita today. Basically a “v” sound rather than “b”. Delta hasn’t changed as much, but “d” sounds like “th” in “the”.
    Thanks for providing this educational resource. It is amazing how little is out there.

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