H. W. Smyth

Greek Grammar (First Edition)

Part 2, §§189-226

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189. Parts of Speech. – Greek has the following parts of speech: substantives, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and particles. In this Grammar noun is used to include both the substantive and the adjective.

190. Inflection is the change in the form of nouns, pronouns, and verbs which indicates their relation to other words in the sentence. Declension is the inflection of substantives, adjectives (including participles), and pronouns; conjugation is the inflection of verbs.

191. Stems.--Inflection is shown by the addition of endings to the stem, which is that part of a word which sets forth the idea; the endings fit the word to stand in various relations to other words in the sentence. The endings originally had distinct meanings, which are now seldom apparent. In verbs they represent the force of the personal pronouns in English; in nouns they often correspond to the ideas expressed by of, to, for, etc. Thus, the stem λογο- becomes λόγο-ς word, the stem λεγο- becomes λέγο-μεν we say. Whether a stem is used as a noun or a verb depends solely on its signification; many stems are used both for nouns and for verbs, as τῑμᾱ- in τῑμή honour, τῑμα- in τῑμά-ω I honour; ἐλπιδ- in ἐλπί(δ)-ς hope, ἐλπίζω I hope (ἐλπιδ-ιω). The pure stem, that is, the stem without any ending, may serve as a word; as χώρᾱ land, λέγε speak! λόγε oh word!

192. The stem often changes in form, but not in meaning, in nouns and verbs. Thus, the stem of λόγο-ς word is λογο- or λογε-, of πατήρ father is πατερ- (strong stem) or πατρ- (weak stem); of λείπο-μεν we leave is λειπο-, of ἐ-λίπομεν we left is λιπο-. The verbal stem is also modified to indicate change in time: τῑμή-σο-μεν we shall honour.

193. Roots. – The fundamental part of a word, which remains after the word has been analyzed into all its component parts, is called a root. When a stem agrees in form with a root (as in ποδ-ός, gen. of πούς foot) it is called a root-stem. A root contains the mere idea of a word in the vaguest and most abstract form possible. Thus, the root λεγ, and in another form λογ, contains the idea of saying simply. By the addition of a formative element ο we arrive at the stems λεγο- and λογο- in λέγο-μεν we say, λόγο-ς word (i.e. what is said).


Words are built by adding to the root certain formative suffixes by which the stem and then the word, ready for use, is constructed. Thus, from the root λυ are formed λύ-σι-ς loosing, λύ-τρο-ν ransom, λυ-τι-κό-ς able to loose, λυ-θῆ-ναι to have loosed. The formation of the stem by the addition of suffixes to the root is treated in Part III. The root itself may assume various forms without change of meaning, as λεγ in λέγ-ο-μεν we say, λογ in λόγ-ο-ς word.

N. – Since Greek is connected with the other Indo-European languages, the roots which we establish in Greek by analysis of a word into its simplest form often reappear in the connected languages (p. 1, A). Thus, the root φερ of φέρω I bear is seen in Sanskrit bhárāmi, Lat. fero, Germ. ge-bären. The assumption of roots is merely a grammatical convenience in the analysis of word-forms, and their determination is part of comparative grammar. Roots and suffixes as such never existed as independent words in Greek, or indeed in any known period of the parent language from which Greek and the other Indo-European tongues are derived. The theory that all roots are monosyllables is ill supported. As far back as we can follow the history of the Indo-European languages we find only complete words; hence their analysis into component morphological elements is merely a scientific device for purposes of arrangement and classification.


194. Declension deals with variations of number, gender, and case.

195. Number. – There are three numbers: singular, dual, and plural. The dual speaks of two or a pair, as τὼ ὀφθαλμώ the two eyes; but it is not often used, and the plural (which denotes more than one) is frequently substituted for it (οἱ ὀφθαλμοί the eyes).

196. Gender. – There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

a. Gender strictly marks sex-distinction. But in Greek, as in German and French, many inanimate objects are regarded as masculine or feminine. Such words are said to have ‘grammatical’ gender, which is determined only by their form. Words denoting objects without natural gender usually show their grammatical gender by the form of the adjective, as μακρὸς λόγος a long speech, μακρὰ̄ νῆσος a long island, μακρὸν τεῖχος a long wall.

b. The gender of Greek words is usually indicated by means of the article: for masculine, for feminine, τό for neuter.

197. Rule of Natural Gender. – Nouns denoting male persons are masculine, nouns denoting female persons are feminine. Thus, ὁ ναύτης seaman, ὁ στρατιώτης soldier, ἡ γυνή woman, ἡ κόρη maiden.

a. A whole class is designated by the masculine:  οἱ ἄνθρωποι men, i.e. men and women.

b. Exceptions to the Rule of Natural Gender. – Diminutives in -ιον are neuter (199 d), as τὸ ἀνθρώπιον manikin (ὁ ἄνθρωπος man), τὸ παιδίον little child (male or female, or ἡ παῖς child), τὸ γύναιον little woman (ἡ γυνή woman). Also the words τέκνον, τέκος child (strictly ‘thing born’), ἀνδράποδον captive


198. Common Gender. – Many nouns denoting persons are either masculine or feminine. Thus, ὁ παῖς boy, ἡ παῖς girl, ὁ θεός god, ἡ θεός (ἡ θεά̄ poet.) goddess.  So with names of animals:  ὁ βοῦς ox, ἡ βοῦς cow, ὁ ἵππος horse, ἡ ἵππος mare.

a. Some names of animals have only one grammatical gender without regard to sex, as ὁ λαγώς he-hare or she-hare, ἡ ἀλώπηξ he-fox or she-fox.

199. Gender of Sexless Objects. – The gender of most nouns denoting sexless objects has to be learned by the endings (211, 228, 255) and by observation. The following general rules should be noted.

a. Masculine are the names of winds, months, and most rivers. Thus, ὁ Βορέᾱς the North Wind, ὁ Ἑκατομβαιών Hecatombaeon, ὁ Κηφισσός Cephissus.

N. – The gender of these proper names is made to correspond to ὁ ἄνεμος wind, ὁ μήν month, ὁ ποταμός river. In the case of winds and rivers the gender may be due in part to personification.

b. Feminine are the names of almost all countries, islands, cities, trees, and plants. Thus, ἡ Ἀττική Attica, ἡ Δῆλος Delos, ἡ Κόρινθος Corinth, ἡ πίτυς pine, ἡ ἄμπελος vine. The gender here follows that of ἡ γῆ or ἡ χώρᾱ land, country, ἡ νῆσος island, ἡ πόλις city, ἡ δρῦς, originally tree in general, but later oak (τὸ δένδρον is the ordinary word for tree).

c. Feminine are most abstract words, that is, words denoting a quality or a condition. Thus, ἡ ἀρετή virtue, ἡ εὔνοια good-will, ἡ ταχύτης swiftness, ἡ ἐλπίς hope.

d. Neuter are diminutives (197 b), words and expressions quoted, letters of the alphabet, infinitives, and indeclinable nouns. Thus, τὸ ὑ̄μεῖς the word ‘you,’ τὸ γνῶθι σεαυτόν the saying ‘learn to know thyself,’ τὸ ἄλφα alpha, τὸ παιδεύειν to educate, τὸ χρεών necessity.

N. – But some names of women end in -ιον (197 b): ἡ Γλυκέριον Glycerium.

200. Remarks.a. Most of the exceptions to 199 a-b are due to the endings; e.g. ἡ Λήθη Lethe, ἡ Στύξ Styx (rivers of the Lower World), τὸ Ἄργος Argos, ὁ Καλυδών Calydon, τὸ Ἴ̄λιον Ilium, οἱ Δελφοί Delphi, ὁ λωτός lotus.

b. Change in gender is often associated with change in form:  ὁ λύκος he-wolf, ἡ λύκαινα she-wolf, ὁ ποιητής poet, ἡ ποιήτρια poetess, ὁ βίοτος and ἡ βιοτή life, ὁ τρόπος manner, ἡ τροπή rout.

c. The gender of one word may influence that of another word of like meaning. Thus ἡ νῆσος island and ἡ λίθος stone are feminine probably because of ἡ γῆ land and ἡ πέτρᾱ rock.

201. Cases. – There are five cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative. The genitive denotes from as well as of, the dative denotes to or for and also by, with, on, in, at, etc. The other cases are used as in Latin.

a. The genitive, dative, and accusative are called oblique cases to distinguish them from the nominative and vocative.

202. The vocative is often like the nominative in the singular; in the plural it is always the same. Nominative, vocative, and accusative have the same form in neuter words, and always have α in the


plural. In the dual there are two forms, one for nominative, accusative, and vocative, the other for genitive and dative.

203. Lost Cases. – Greek has generally lost the forms of the instrumental and locative cases (which have become fused with the dative) and of the ablative. The Greek dative is used to express by, as in βίᾳ, Lat. υῑ; with, as in λίθοις with stones; and in, on, as in γῇ on the earth. From may be expressed by the genitive:  πόρρω Σπάρτης far from Sparta. When the genitive and dative do duty for the ablative, prepositions are often used. Instances of the forms of the lost cases are given in 341.

204. Declensions. – There are three declensions, which are named from the stems to which the case endings are attached.

1. First or Â-declension, with stems in

}Vowel Declension.

2. Second or O-declension, with stems in ο)

3. Third or Consonant declension, with stems in a consonant or in ι and υ.

The nominative and accusative are alike in the singular and plural of all neuter nouns. The nominative and vocative are alike in the plural.


205. Substantives and adjectives accent, in the oblique cases, the same syllable as is accented in the nominative, provided the ultima permits (163); otherwise the following syllable receives the accent.

1 decl. θάλαττα, θαλάττης, θαλάττῃ, θάλατταν, θάλατται (169), θαλάτταις, θαλάττᾱς.

2 decl. ἄνθρωπος, ἀνθρώπου, ἀνθρώπῳ, ἄνθρωπον, ἄνθρωποι (169), ἀνθρώπωνἀνθρώποις, ἀνθρώπους.

3 decl. λέων, λέοντος, λέοντι, λέοντα, λέοντες, λεόντων.

Adj.: ἄξιος (287), ἀξίᾱ, ἄξιον, ἀξίου, ἀξίᾱς, ἀξίῳ, ἀξίᾳ, ἀξίων, ἀξίοις. χαρίεις (299), χαρίεντος, χαρίεντι, χαρίεντα, χαριέντων.

206. The character of the accent depends on the general laws (167, 168, 176). Thus, νί̄κη, Ϝῖκαι (169); δῶρον, δώρου, δῶρα; σῶμα, σώματος, σωμάτων, σώματα.

207. Oxytones of the first and second declensions are perispomena in the genitive and dative of all numbers:  σκιά̄, σκιᾶς, σκιᾷ, σκιῶν, σκιαῖς; θεός, θεοῦ, θεῷ, θεῶν, θεοῖς; φανερός, φανεροῦ, φανερῷ, φανερῶν, φανεροῖς.

208. The genitive plural of all substantives of the first declension has the circumflex on the ω of -ων. Thus, νί¯κη νῑκῶν; θάλαττα θαλαττῶν; πολί¯της πολῑτῶν; νεᾱνίᾱς νεᾱνιῶν.

209. The fem. gen. plural of adjectives and participles in -ος has the same accent and form as the masculine and neuter. Thus, δίκαιος, gen. pl. δικαίων (in all genders); λυόμενος, gen. pl. λυομένων (in all genders).




Vowel Declension

Consonant Declension


Masc. and Fem.


Masc. and Fem.



or none

or none



or -ιο




-ν or -ᾱ




none or like Nom.





G. D.



N. V.








-ις (-ισι)

-σι, -σσι, -εσσι


-νς (-α̅ς)


-νς, -ᾰς

a. The stem may undergo a change upon its union with the case ending, as in the genitive plural of the first declension (213). Cp. 258, 264, 268, etc

b. In the vowel declension, of the nominative plural is borrowed from the inflection of pronouns (ἐκεῖνο-ι).

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