Greek five tricky words that crop up a lot

If you are not a fan of New Testament Greek then read no further but if you are here are five tricky customers for you to enjoy.

So far I have unearthed the following from Mounce’s books : Morphology of Biblical Greek, The Analytical Lexicon and Basics of biblical Greek.

1) οἶδα “I know”

roots of οἶδα:

It has two roots *οιδ and *Fιδ (pronounced “vid” as in “video”).

The present of οἶδα:

It is a perfect that is used as a present so the present looks like the perfect tense based on the root: *οιδ:









The future of οἶδα :

The future is from the root *Fιδ > εὶδήσω


The aorist of οἶδα:

The plu-perfect is used as the aorist so the undefined tense of this verb looks like a plu perfect and is based on the root *Fιδ








I have always wanted to know what  plu-perfect was so was thrilled when I read in Basics of Biblical Greek that it is

“used to describe an action that was completed and whose effects are felt at a time after the completion but before the time of the speaker”.

Now I know. Like the perfect there are unfortunately 1st and second plu-perfects, and like the perfect the first takes tense formative κ and the second has no tense formative. Both use the connecting vowels ει and secondary endings. Looking at the above paradigm it looks like οἶδα is a second plu-perfect as there are no κ’s and yes, there are the ει connecting vowels before regular (or a version of – see first aorist ending in third person plural) secondary endings.

Use of οἶδα in ὁράω:

The second aorist εἶδον is formed from *Fιδ which was taking over the function of the aorist in ὁράω “I see”.

2) ερχομαι “I come”

ερχομαι is another common word that is pretty tricky. It also has two roots *ερχ and *ελευθ.

Present επχομαι from *ερχ

Future ελεύσομαι from *ελευθ

Aorist ἦλθον from *ελθευ? Is this a mistake in the book (Morphology of Biblical Greek page 260, note 7) or have I missed something. I was expecting it to be ελευθ. I have probably missed something. Anyway, it’s of no mater because the word is formed from the zero grade root, ie the root without any vowels ie *ελθ.

Active perfect ἐλήλυθα from *ελθευ. There is attic reduplication at the start. That can happen when a word starts with α, ε or ο in which case the vowel and the consonant are duplicated and the first vowel is lengthened. Oh, and the ε has dropped out.

3) ἐχω “I have”

ἐχω is another interesting word because its root is *σεχ. The ς is replaced with a rough breathing unless their is another aspirate in the word. Aspirates are φ, χ and θ. They are sort of “huffy” and I guess the greeks didn’t want two huffs in a word. So in the present *σεχ > ἑχω > ἐχω. But in the future, *σεχ > ἑχσω > ἑξω. The huffy rough breathing stays put because the huffy χ has been changed with the ς into a ξ.

The aorist uses the zero form of the root, ie the ε vowel drops out leaving *σχ. An ε augment is added at the start, and the normal connecting vowel and secondary endings are added. *σχ > ἐσχ > ἐσχον.

The perfect again uses the zero form of the root, but a η is added at the end. *σεχ > *σχ > σχη > ἔσχη > ἔσχηκα. Note 45.3 in Morphology of Biblical Greek says that 10 words in the NT add an η after the verbal root and the perfect active tense formative. There are some quite common ones that do this ie : ἁμαρτάνω, βάλλω, εύρισκω and μένω. ie perfect of μένω is μεμένηκα.

4) ἀφίημι “I let go, leave, permit, forgive”

I came across this word recently: ἀφῆτε. On page 337 of Basics of Biblical Greek I found it’s root is *σε. Also, “like ἵστημι, the reduplicated sigma dropped off and was replaced with a rough breathing. The initial sigma was also dropped because it was intervocalic”. σε > σισε > ἱσε > ἱε > ἱημι.” Then we add the first bit of the compound verb απο. απ’ + ἱημι  > αφίημι as the π has joined with the vowel and rough breathing to become φ. Page 61 of Basics of Biblical Greek says that happens in general with απο and page 337 says it specifically happens here.

5) λέγω “I say”

uses multiple roots.



*Fρη (>Fερ)

present tense:

λέγο     *λεγ

Future :


*Fρη+εσ+ω > Fερ+εσ+ω > ερ+εσ+ω > ερεσω > ερεῶ > ερῶ (liquid future +εσ tense formative. Intervocalic sigma drops out).



ε+*Fεπ > ε+επ > εἶπ

It’s a shame these words have to be so tricky.

PS. ooo hello…Just came across the word χάριν when translating Ephesians 3:1 and thought it was singular, accusative of “grace”, which it is. But turns out there is another word spelt exactly the same that means “on account of” and this is what is meant in Eph 3:1. The plot thickens!

see also “Stopped in my tracks again” for φερω roots.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s