“GPS” This! — The “Satellite View” of εἰμί

Similar in comprehensiveness to what’s available for Greek nouns and participles on this blog and also within the body of Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK, here’s another one-page “satellite view” of an important Greek verb: the intransitive (linking, “state-of-being”) verb εἰμί. Included are this verb’s Indicative, Subjunctive, Imperative, and Participial structures. Just think of it as a “GPS” (Greek Positioning System) for εἰμί. For a downloadable one-page PDF, click here or download from the sidebar at any time.

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“Sipping” on Greek Participles

So . . . are you slipping on Greek participles when you’d rather be “sipping” on them instead? Here are some tips:

Greek Participles Defined

Participles are verbal adjectives. Being part verb, they have tense, voice and mode, while being part adjective, they also have (as do nouns and adjectives) gender, case, and number. As a result, the parsing of participles is represented through all six of these distinctions:  tense, voice, mode, gender, case, and number (e.g., λύων ‒ Present, Active, Participle, Masculine, Nominative, Singular).

Participles may be used “adjectivally” including as a substantive, when no antecedent noun is present.  In these instances, as with all adjectives, they agree in gender, case, and number with the nouns or pronouns they modify.  Used “adverbially,” participles may receive adverbial modifiers, and may take a direct object.


Participles are declined in all three genders:  masculine, feminine, and neuter. The masculine active participle is declined like the 3rd Declension masculine, lingual mute stem noun, ἄρχων.* The feminine active participle is declined like the 1st Declension feminine noun, γλῶσσα (whose nominative singular ends in α, and is not preceded by ε, ι, or ρ).  The neuter active participle is declined like 3rd Declension neuter nouns whose stems end in –ματ.

The middle and passive participle endings are declined like 2nd Declension masculines and neuters; the feminine is declined like 1st Declension feminine nouns whose nominative singular ends in . Remember Aorist Passive participles always use endings that are active in “appearance.” To get a more comprehensive “satellite view” of Greek Participles formation,  click  on each of the images, below.


In circumstantial (temporal, adverbial) clauses, the time frame of the participle in translation is related to the tense and time frame of the leading (Indicative) verb.  The Present participle is found where the action of the participle is represented as taking place at the same time as the action of the leading (Indicative) verb, regardless of when the action of the leading verb takes place.  The action of the Aorist and Perfect participles denote action that has occurred prior to the action denoted by the leading (Indicative) verb, regardless of whether the action of the leading verb is represented as occurring in the past, present, or future.  For more on translation of participles, both “Circumstantial” (temporal, adverbial) participles (i.e., those without a definite article), as well as “Articular” (adjectival) participles, see the post, “Participle = Verbal Adjective.” (Also see: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK (pp. 68-69).

*NOTE:  It is imperative that the beginning Greek student learn the declension of the 3rd Declension noun ἀρχῶν, ὁ (ruler). From this noun Present “active” participle endings are derived, and the noun’s stem (ἀρχ-) is replaced with a verbal stem (or, as I like to say in class, “We’re putting Noah back into the ‘ark’ [ἀρχ] and sending him on a vacation.” The resultant verb stem + declined endings = a verbal-adjective, the grammatical description for a participle (e.g., λύων, λύοντος…).

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The Subjunctive Mode: “Southern Greek!”

Remember, the Subjunctive mode endings (Active, Middle, and Passive) are simply Indicative endings whose thematic vowel has lengthened (e.g., -ω, -εις, -ει, -ομεν, -ετε, -ουσι become –ω, -ῃς, -ῃ, -ωμεν, -ητε, -ωσι, respectively).* Think of these Subjunctive endings as “Southern Greek,” since the sound of all the endings has a longer (Southern?) vowel sound. In Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK (p. 35), the Subjunctive mode endings are coded “S-1” (active endings) and “S-2” (middle and passive endings). “S” for Subjunctive; “S for “Southern.” Remember, too, that when you see “active” Subjunctive endings with no verb stem (i.e., ὦ, ᾖς, ᾖ, ὦμεν, ἦτε, ὦσι[ν]), you’re looking at the Present Active Subjunctive of the verb εἰμί.

In the Subjunctive mode, the “circumflex” accent that occurs over the thematic vowel of the verb endings in the Aorist passive voice is the result of a collision of the stem’s ending vowel (η-) and the thematic vowel of the endings (–ω, -ῃς, -ῃ, -ωμεν, -ητε, -ωσι). Therefore: λυθῶ…λυθῇςetc. Think of it as a car accident resulting in a “fender bender” (what the circumflex accent looks like. See also: “Signal Flags” for verbal forms chart, p. 45 in the GREEKBOOK). So, when observing either a -θῆ- or a -θῶ- (-φῆ- or -φῶ-, etc.) toward the end of a verbal form, you always are looking at an Aorist Passive Subjunctive. (For other “Signal Flags for Verbal Forms,” see p. 45 in the GREEKBOOK.)

When attempting to translate a Subjunctive mode clause, always remember that you must identify what use of the Subjunctive is in play. For example, is it an exhortation (1st person plural Subjunctive verb form = “We should…”)? Or, is it a clause with ἵνα ( = “in order that, so that, that”)? Or maybe the clause ends with a Greek question mark ( ; ), indicating the presence of a 1st person singular or plural Subjunctive verb form and a question of doubt as to what the speaker(s) should say or do. (For a concise listing and explanation of all the “Uses of the Subjunctive” mode, see pages 36-39 in the GREEKBOOK).

A cultural distinction seems important when translating the Subjunctive mode verb form that occurs in the 1st person plural. The use of the Subjunctive here is the exhortation, which many (if not most) grammars and bible translations render with “Let us…” While this is perfectly legitimate under Greek grammatical rules, culturally it seems weak, since we often use the contraction “Let’s…” in everyday speech when we are simply hoping that something will occur. In this regard, it seems much more preferable (and therefore I teach my students) to render this use of the Subjunctive with a culturally stronger, clearer “We should…” Now, read (and hear) the difference contrasted with the following short verse from 1 John 4:7:

“Let us love one another.”

ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλων =                   [or]

“We should love one another.” (Culturally stronger)

* NOTE: With regard to the Greek diphthong ει,” it seems preferable and wise to pronounce it phonetically the same as the identical diphthong in the English word “height,” as opposed to the phonetic sound in the English word “freight.” This is because the “ει” diphthong occurs within the 2nd and 3rdpersons of “active voice” verb endings of the Indicative mode (-ει,  -εις), later “lengthening” to when used in the same persons in the Subjunctive mode (-ῃ,-ῃς). Since the phonetic sound of is the same as the diphthong in “freight,” it tends to confuse the usage of these separately occurring endings (“ει” in the Indicative; “ῃ” in the Subjunctive, also “middle/passive voice” Indicative 2nd sing.) if pronounced identically.

Go to: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.com

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