H. W. Smyth

Greek Grammar (First Edition)

Part 2, 355-382

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inflexion:  preliminary remarks (355-380)

355. The Greek verb shows distinctions of voice, mood, verbal noun, tense, number, and person.


356. Voices. There are three voices: active, middle, and passive.

a. The middle usually denotes that the subject acts on himself or for himself, as λούομαι wash myself, ἀμύ̄νομαι defend myself (lit. ward off for myself).

b. The passive borrows all its forms, except the future and aorist, from the middle.

c. Deponent verbs have an active meaning but only middle (or middle and passive) forms. If its aorist has the middle form, a deponent is called a middle deponent (χαρίζομαι gratify, ἐχαρισάμην); if its aorist has the passive form, a deponent is called a passive deponent (ἐνθῡμέομαι reflect on, ἐνεθῡμήθην).  Deponents usually prefer the passive to the middle forms of the aorist.

357. Moods. Four moods, the indicative, subjunctive, optative, imperative, are called finite, because the person is defined by the ending (366). The infinitive, strictly a verbal noun (358), is sometimes classed as a mood.

358. Verbal Nouns. Verbal forms that share certain properties of nouns are called verbal nouns.  There are two kinds of verbal nouns.

1. Substantival: the infinitive.

N. The infinitive is properly a case form (chiefly dative, rarely locative), herein being like a substantive.

2. Adjectival (inflected like adjectives):

a. Participles: active, middle, and passive.

b. Verbal adjectives:

In -τός, denoting possibility, as φιλητός lovable, or with the force of a perfect passive participle, as γραπτός written.

In -τέος, denoting necessity, as γραπτέος that must be written.

359. Tenses. There are seven tenses in the indicative: present, imperfect, future, aorist, perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect. The future perfect commonly has a passive force, but it may be active or middle in meaning (see 581).

The subjunctive has three tenses: present, aorist, and perfect.

The optative and infinitive have five tenses: present, future, aorist, perfect, and future perfect.

The imperative has three tenses: present, aorist, and perfect.


361. Second Aorists, etc. Some verbs have tenses called second aorists (active, middle, and passive), second perfects and pluperfects (active only), and second futures (passive). The meaning of these tenses ordinarily corresponds to that of the first aorist, etc.; but when a verb has both forms in any tense (which is rarely the case), the two forms usually differ in meaning. Sometimes one form is poetical, the other used in prose.

362. No single Greek verb shows all the tenses mentioned in 359 and 361; and the paradigms are therefore taken from different verbs.

363. Number. There are three numbers: the singular, dual, and plural.

364. Person. There are three persons (first, second, and third) in the indicative, subjunctive, and optative. The imperative has only the second and third persons.

a. Except in a few cases in poetry (465 c) the first person plural is used for the first person dual.

365. Inflection. The inflection of a verb consists in the addition of certain endings to the different stems.

366. Endings. The endings in the finite moods (357) show whether the subject is first, second, or third person; and indicate number and voice. See 462 ff.

a. The middle has a different set of endings from the active. The passive has the endings of the middle except in the aorist, which has the active endings.

b. The indicative has two sets of endings in the active and in the middle: one for primary tenses, the other for secondary tenses.

c. The subjunctive uses the same endings as the primary tenses of the indicative; the optative uses the same as those of the secondary tenses.


367. A Greek verb has two kinds of stems: (1) the tense-stem, to which the endings are attached, and (2) a common verb-stem (also called theme) from which all the tense-stems are derived. The tense-stem is usually made from the verb-stem by prefixing a reduplication-syllable (439), and by affixing signs for mood (457, 459) and tense (455). A tense-stem may be identical with a verbstem.

368. The Tense-stems. The tenses fall into nine classes called tense-systems. Each tense-system has its own separate tense-stem.







present and imperfect.




future active and middle.


First Aorist,


first aorist active and middle.


Second Aorist,


second aorist active and middle.


First Perfect,


first perfect, first pluperfect, and fut. perf., active.


Second Perfect,


second perfect and second pluperfect active.


Perfect Middle,


perfect and pluperfect middle (pass.), future perfect.


First Passive,


first aorist and first future passive.


Second Passive,


second aorist and second future passive.

The tense-stems are explained in detail in 497-597.

a. Since few verbs have both the first and second form of the same tense (361), most verbs have only six of these nine systems; many verbs do not even have six. Scarcely any verb shows all nine systems.

b. There are also secondary tense-stems for the future passive, the pluperfect, and the future perfect.

c. The tense-stems assume separate forms in the different moods.

369. The principal parts of a verb are the first person singular indicative of the tense-systems occurring in it. These are generally six: the present, future, first aorist, first (or second) perfect active, the perfect middle, and the first (or second) aorist passive. The future middle is given if there is no future active. The second aorist (active or middle) is added if it occurs. Thus:

λύ̄ω loose, λύ̄σω, ἔλῡσα, λέλυκα, λέλυμαι, ἐλύθην.

λείπω leave, λείψω, λέλοιπα, λέλειμμαι, ἐλείφθην, 2 aor. ἔλιπον.

γράφω write, γράψω, ἔγραψα, γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι, 2 aor. pass. ἐγράφην.

σκώπτω jeer, σκώψομαι, ἔσκωψα, ἐσκώφθην.

370. The principal parts of deponent verbs (356 c) are the present, future, perfect, and aorist indicative. Both first and second aorists are given if they occur.

βούλομαι wish, βουλήσομαι, βεβούλημαι, ἐβουλήθην (passive deponent).

γ́γνομαι become, γενήσομαι, γεγένημαι, 2 aor. ἐγενόμην (middle deponent).

ἐργάζομαι work, ἐργάσομαι, εἰργασάμην, εἴργασμαι, εἰργάσθην.

371. Verb-stem (or Theme). The tense-stems are made from one fundamental stem called the verb-stem (or theme).

This verb-stem may be a root (193) as in τί̄honour, or a root to which a derivative suffix has been appended, as in τῑ-μά-ω honour.

372. A verb forming its tense-stems directly from a root is called a primitive verbA denominative verb forms its tense-stems from a longer verb-stem, originally a noun-stem; as δουλόω enslave from δοῦλος slaveVerbs in μι (379), and verbs in ω of two syllables (in the present indicative active, as λέγ-ω speak) or of three syllables


(in the middle, as δέχομαι receive) are generally primitive. Others are denominative.

373. The verb-stem may show numerous modifications in form.

Thus, corresponding to the gradations in sing, sang, sung (35), the verb λείπ-ω leave shows the stems λειπ-, λοιπ- (2 perf. λέ-λοιπ-α), λιπ- (2 aor. ἔ-λιπ-ο-ν); the verb φεύγ-ω flee shows φευγ- and φυγ- (2 aor. ἔ-φυγ-ο-ν).  In ῥήγνῡμι break we find the three stems ῥηγ, ῥωγ (2 perf. ἔρρωγα), ῥαγ (2 aor. pass. ἐρράγην). στέλλ-ω send has the stems στελ- and σταλ- (perf. ἔ-σταλ-κα, 2 fut. pass. σταλ-ήσομαι).

a. When the fundamental stem shows modifications, it is customary for convenience to call its shorter (or shortest) form the verb-stem, and to derive the other forms from it. The student must, however, beware of assuming that the short forms are older than the other forms.

374. The verb-stem may also show modifications in quantity, as present λύ̄loose, perfect λέ-λῠ-κα.

N. Various causes produce this variation. λύ̄ω has from analogy to λύ̄-σω, ἔ-λῡ-σα where the verb-stem λῠ has been regularly lengthened (534, 543). For Attic φθάνω anticipate Hom. has φθά̄νω for φθανϜω (28, 147 D.).

375. ω Inflection and μι Inflection. There are two slightly different methods of inflecting verbs, the first according to the common, the second according to the μι system. The names ω-verbs and μι-verbs (a small class) refer to the ending of the first person singular active of the present tense indicative only: λύ̄loose, τίθη-μι place.

a. In the ω inflection the tense-stem ends in the thematic vowel.  To this form belong all futures, and the presents, imperfects, and second aorists showing the thematic vowel.

376. According to the ending of the verb-stem, ω-verbs are termed:

1.   Vowel (or pure) verbs:

a. Not contracted: those that end in υ or ι, as λύ̄loose, παιδεύ-ω educate, χρί̄anoint. Such verbs retain the final vowel of the stem unchanged in all their forms.

b. Contracted:  those that end in α, ε, ο, as τῑμῶ honour from τῑμά-ω, ποιῶ make from ποιέ-ω, δηλῶ manifest from δηλό-ω.

2.   Consonant verbs, as:  Liquid or nasal verbs:  δέρ-ω flay, μέν-ω remain.

Verbs ending in a stop (or mute), as ἄγ-ω lead, πείθ-ω persuade.

N. Verbs ending in a stop consonant are called labial, dental, or palatal verbs. Consonant verbs do not retain the final consonant of the stem unchanged in all their forms. The final consonant may be assimilated to a following consonant, or may form with it a double consonant.

377. Thematic Vowel. Some tense-stems end in a vowel which varies between ο and ε (or ω and η) in certain forms. This is called the thematic (or variable) vowel.  Thus λύ̄ο-μεν λύ̄ε-τε, λύ̄ω-μεν λύ̄η-τε, 


λύ̄σο-μεν λύ̄σε-τε.  The thematic vowel is written ο/ε or ω/η, as λῡο/ε-, γραφω/η-. See 456.

378. ο is used before μ or ν in the indicative, and in the optative, ω before μ or ν in the subjunctive, elsewhere ε is used in the indicative in the subjunctive).

379. In the μι inflection no thematic vowel is employed, and the endings are attached directly to the tense-stem.  The μι form is used only in the present, imperfect, and second aorist.  In the other tenses, verbs in μι generally show the same inflection as ω-verbs.  For further explanation of the ω and the μι inflection see 602ff., 717ff.

380. Meanings of the Tenses and Moods. In the synopsis (382) meanings are given wherever these are not dependent on the use of the various forms in the sentence. The meanings of the subjunctive and optative forms and the difference between the tenses can be learned satisfactorily only from the syntax. Some of these meanings may here be given:

a. Subjunctive:  λύ̄ωμεν or λύ̄σωμεν let us loose, (ἐὰ̄ν) λύ̄ω or λύ̄σω (if) I loose, (ἵνα) γράφω (that) I may write.

b. Optative:  (εἴθε) λύ̄οιμι or λύ̄σαιμι (would) that I may loose! (εἰ) λύ̄οιμεν or λύ̄σαιμεν (if) we should loose.



I.   Verbs in ω:

A.   Vowel verbs not contracted:

Synopsis and conjugation of λύ̄ω (pp. 112-118).

Second aorist (active and middle) of λείπω (p. 119).

Second perfect and pluperfect (active) of λείπω.

B.   Vowel verbs contracted:

Present and imperfect of τῑμάω, ποιέω, δηλόω (pp. 120-123).

C.  Consonant verbs:

Liquid and nasal verbs: future and first aorist (active and middle), second aorist and second future passive of φαίνω (pp. 128-129).

Labial, dental, and palatal verbs: perfect and pluperfect, middle (passive) of λείπω, γράφω, πείθω, πρά̄ττω, ἐλέγχω (p. 130). Perfect of the liquid verbs ἀγγέλλω, φαίνω; and perfect of τελέω (p. 131).

II. Verbs in μι.

A.  Present, imperfect, and 2 aorist of τίθημι, ἵστημι, δίδωμι (pp. 135 ff.).

Second aorist middle of ἐπριάμην (p. 138).

B.   Present and imperfect of δείκνῡμι (p. 140).

Second aorist: ἔδῡν (p. 140).


Conjugation of Ω-verbs:

I. (A) Vowel Verbs: not contracted


Synopsis of λω (λῠω λῡ) loose

I. Present System

II. Future System

III. Future System

Present and Imperfect


1 Aorist


λύ̄ω I loose or am

λύ̄σω I shall loose

ἔλῡον I was loos-

ἔλῡσα I loosed









λῦε loose

λῦσον loose


λύ̄ειν to loose

λύ̄σειν to be about to

λῦσαι to loose or to
have loosed


λύ̄ων loosing

λύ̄σων about to loose



λύ̄ομαι I loose (for

λύ̄σομαι I shall loose
(for myself)

ἐλῡόμην I was

ἐλῡσάμην I loosed (for









λύ̄ου loose (for thy-

λύ̄σεσθαι to be about to
(for one's self)

λῦσαι loose (for thy-


λύ̄εσθαι to loose (for
one's self

λύ̄σασθαι to loose or to
have loosed
one's self

λύ̄σασθαι to loose or to
have loosed
one's self


λῡόμενος loosing (for
one's self

λῡσάμενος having
(for one's self)

λῡσάμενος having
(for one's self)


viii first passive system


λύ̄ομαι I am
I was



1 Future

1 Aorist

λυθήσομαι I shall be

ἐλύθην I was loosed


Like Middle

λυθῶ (for λυθέω)


"         "




"         "

λύθητι be loosed


"         "

λυθήσεσθαι to be about
to be loosed

λυθῆναι to be loosed or
to have been loosed


"         "

λυθησόμενος about to
be loosed

λυθείς having been

Verbal Adjectives:


λυτός that may be loosed, loosed

λυτέος that must be loosed, (requiring) to be loosed


[Synopsis of λύ̄ω (λῠ, λῡ) loose (right-hand page continuation of above )]

v. first perfect system

vii. perfect system


1 Perfect and Pluperfect Active


λέλυκα I have loosed

ἐλελύκη I had loosed

λελυκὼς ὦ or λελύκω


λελυκὼς εἴην or λελύκοιμι


λελυκὼς ἴσθι or [λέλυκε]1


λελυκέναι to have loosed

λελυκώς having loosed


Perfect and Pluperfect Middle


λέλυμαι I have loosed (for myself)


ἐλελύμην I had


λελυμένος εἴην

λέλυσο (712, 714)

λελύσθαι to have loosed (for one's self)


λελυμένος having loosed (for one's self)


Perfect and Perfect Passive

Future Perfect Passive

λέλυμαι I have
ἐλελύμην I had



λελύ̄σομαι I shall have
been loosed


Like Middle


"          "


"          "


"          "


"          "


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