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.

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“Getting Prepped” — Directional-Positional Greek Prepositions

While there are quite a few more Greek prepositions than these, the visual below concentrates on the ones having directional or positional functions. Many English words are also derived from these particular Greek prepositions, including apostasy, catacomb, diameter, enshrine and envelope, epidermis, exodus, hypercritical, hypodermic, parallel, and perimeter.

For a downloadable PDF of the above diagram, click here.  The same is also available at any time from the sidebar.

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Another Peek at Greek: Taking a Look Inside “Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK”

GREEKBOOK Banner with Text

This post is particularly for those of you who have searched the internet for things pertaining to New Testament Greek grammar which—while they are not necessarily among the postings I’ve blogged here—are included within the entire corpus of Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK—A Systematic-Relational Beginning Greek Grammar for the New Testament Greek Student.

To enable you to have “full disclosure” of what actually is embodied in my book, I have posted images (JPEGs) revealing the entire “Table of Contents,” which also includes  the “Preface” with a background on how the book had its beginning, as well as comments to students and instructors of Greek, and finally a “Testimonials” section for your review. To enlarge the images below to maximum viewing size, please click twice on the image you desire to view—one click for a separate screen, the second for enlargementFor other “looks inside the book” and ordering information and options, go directly to: Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.

greekbooksmallcover Wermuth's Greekbook table of contents Wermuth's Greekbook toc 2 Wermuth's Greekbook TOC3 Wermuth's Greekbook TOC4 Wermuth's Greekbook PREFACE1 Wermuth's Greekbook PREFACE2 Wermuth's GREEKBOOK Testimonials1 Wermuth's GREEKBOOK Testimonials2

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Greek & Hebrew Reader’s Bible ONLINE

Greek & Hebrew Reader's Bible
For those who learn visually and love to have an organized, systematic way of studying and memorizing, this analytical Greek & Hebrew Reader’s Bible ONLINE (click image above to enlarge) is what you would have created if developer John Dyer hadn’t already done so. Similar to Zack Hubert’s former online interactive, analytical bible tool, but with many more creative and useful “bells and whistles,” John Dyer’s online New Testament Greek tool is also very user-friendly.

Searchable by Book/Chapter/Verse, the accented Greek text has a “roll-over” function embedded that provides a full analytical and lexical summary of each word.  The user may allow assign colors to the words in the Greek text, according to part of speech categories. You can even change the size and style of Greek font being used. (Of course, all the above also applies to the Hebrew text functions as well). There’s even more which you will easily find and be able to use in your Greek (and Hebrew) studies, like setting parameters to preclude information that a student is already supposed to know. So, use it wisely and responsibly, and enjoy!

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“TV Makes People Nauseas” —OR— “How to ‘Parse’ a Greek Verb”

One of the most important considerations in studying the foundational elements of Greek must be given to the verb, that part of speech which affirms either action or state of being. The component elements of a verb are collectively referred to as its “parsing.” These components are:

1. Tense

2. Voice

3. Mode (or Mood)

4. Person

5. Number

. . . or, as my beginning Greek professor used to wisely proclaim (to our era of declining quality television programming viewers) via the acronym of the first letters of each of the above words: TV Makes People Nauseas!”

The “parsing” (from the Latin word meaning  “a part or “parts”) of Greek’s “model” regular verb λύω “I am loosing” is: Present, Active, Indicative, 1st Person, Singular. Now, let’s take a closer look at what these “parsing” components represent—

1. Tense conveys “kind” of action and generally, in the Indicative Mode only, the “time” of the action. So, for the above verb, Present tense would mean both present time and continuous “action” (that is, activity “in progress” in real, present time). Of course, from your additional study elsewhere, you’ll know that the Greek tenses are the Present, Imperfect (continuous “action” in past time), Future, Aorist (a normal 1st Aor., and an “irregular” 2nd Aor., describing “point” or undefined action [in past time in the Indicative mode]), the Perfect (perfected action with continuing results), and the Pluperfect (equivalent to the English “Past Perfect” = I had loosed).

2. Voice (“active,” “middle,” or “passive”) tells how the action of the verb is related to the subject.

3.  Mode (or Mood) tells what the verb is affirming, its relation to “reality.”

Indicative — declaratives, simple assertions, interrogations.
Subjunctive — mildly contingent, hesitating affirmation; mode of probability.
Imperative — commands or entreaties; mode of “volition.”
Optative — strongly contingent; mode of “possibility,” weaker than the Subjunctive.

4. Person denotes who is acting as the subject.  In Greek the personal pronouns (i.e., I, you, he, she, it, we, you, and they) are included in the endings of the verb form.

5. Number is the “singularity” or “plurality” of the person or persons represented by the verb form, included in the verb’s personal endings.

By the way, since every Greek verb contains these five “parsing” elements that identify its structure, it only makes sense to realize that: “If you can ‘parse’ it, you can translate it!” Alternately stated, a verb’s “parsing”—once discerned by the student—is the verb’s way of “telling you” how to translate it. At that point, it’s only a matter of knowing the vocabulary.

There’s more: For a one-page PDF on Greek verbs—the way the tenses are formed and translated—click here (also downloadable from the sidebar). Additionally, you may want to download the Greek Indicative Verbs “PowerPoint” presentation here (or from the sidebar).


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“You ain’t nothin’ but a noun dog, declining all the time!” . . . OR . . . “The ‘Satellite View’ of all Greek Noun Declensions”

The following Greek Nouns Declensions chart, available here as a downloadable PowerPoint presentation and here as a downloadable PDF, details all of the types and genders of nouns that the New Testament Greek student will encounter. I know of no other paradigm in existence that condenses all of these case endings—based on the “8-case” paradigm—into a single, concise chart of all Greek noun declensions. I call it the satellite view of all Greek noun endings. Of significant value are the horizontal relationships existing between each type of noun presented in a vertical layout that can be clearly observed in this comprehensive, single-page layout. Assisting in your memorization of these endings are the use of arrows showing either identical or similar continuity, and yellow highlights denoting pattern shifts.

* NΟΤΕ:  The PowerPoint presentation also includes an overview of the “8-case” system, as well as a static view of the declension and translation of the 2nd declension masculine noun λόγος.


Of particular significance within the eight-case system for inflected noun endings are two additional cases not readily found in the more widely used five-case system. Sharing the same endings, singular and plural, as the Dative case are the Locative and Instrumental cases. As a memory aid, a helpful acronym for these three cases is to refer to them as the “L.I.D.” cases, particularly since their singular and plural forms always reveal, either an “iota subscript” or an iota “sandwiched” in between two other letters (e.g., οις, –αις). So, the “L.I.D.” acronym has an “I” in it, and the endings also all have an “I” in them in the form of an iota. (Note: 3rd Declension L.I.D. plurals have σι as their shared cases’ ending.)

It’s also noteworthy that Neuter nouns (pronouns, adjectives) always repeat their nominative endings in the accusative case (singular and plural, respectively).

There are various types of Greek nouns declined in the 3rd Declension, also called the “Consonant Declension.” These types derive their names based on the final letter(s) of their respective stems. Stems in this declension are not readily identifiable by referring to their Nominative singular (lexical) forms, but rather (usually) from their Genitive singular forms. It is helpful, therefore, for the student to memorize the Genitive singular stems of these types of “irregular” Greek nouns. For more on this click here.

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All the New Testament Greek Vocabulary in W.H. Davis’ Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament

The following PDF contains all the New Testament Greek Vocabulary in W.H. Davis’ Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Listed in textbook appearance order, this textbook-inclusive itemization of New Testament Greek vocabulary is accompanied by a numerical conflation of Sake Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon words used more than 50 times and Bruce Metzger’s Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek words used from 10 times all the way up to 46-49 times. Click here to open the *PDF.

For an online study of the same vocabulary categorized into manageable Davis lesson order groups click here to go to Cram.com (formerly FlashcardExchange.com).

[*Note: This PDF only includes the 489 New Testament words presented within the Davis grammar.]


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The Greek Alphabet (PowerPoint)

Even at the very beginning of your Greek experience, things don’t have to be ominously difficult. Take the Greek alphabet (PDF or PowerPoint download) for instance, the lower case letters in particular. From the outset it is readily observable just how many of the lower case Greek letters resemble corresponding letters from the English alphabet. Notice English similarities to the alpha, beta, delta, epsilon, iota, kappa, omicron, sigma, tau, and upsilon. Even the zeta can be easily recognized as corresponding to the English “z.” And, pi we have become comfortable with as a mathematical symbol. These 12 Greek letters are half of the alphabet! As for the more “difficult” Greek letters, there are ways to correctly recognize and remember many of them quite early on in one’s studies. For example, look at the Greek lambda, corresponding to the cursive English “ l. ” Simply remove the upper loop from the English letter and you have the Greek lambda (i.e., l = λ). Similarly, with the gamma, removing the loop from the head of the English cursive “g ” leaves its Greek equivalent ( γ with a loop in its tail ). The Greek mu, nu and rho can also been seen as corresponding to the English “m,” “n” and “r” if one only adds a little information in the “mind’s eye.” Even the Greek omega (ω) looks, humorously, like a infant’s bottom when one shockingly discovers he needs a diaper change. The exclamation, “Ohhhhh” can be heard all across the room! And that is exactly what the omega represents in English: a long “o.” All together this encompasses 18 of the 24 Greek alphabet’s letters. The remaining six can be learned with limited difficulty through frequent encounters with them within the spelling of various Greek words. An a online animated Greek alphabet tutorial link can be accessed here.

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“Signal Flags” for Greek Verbal Forms (Chart)

The following chart is a systematic “visual tour” of many of the possible characteristics seen within various Greek verbal forms one encounters in their various tenses, voices, and modes. One or more of these “clues” may be spotted simultaneously by the student, giving him the mental “signal(s)” he needs to help him more quickly to identify that form’s parsing. Notice that the chart is a simulated left-to-right look at any verbal form (including participles and infinitives) that one might encounter, noting the various characteristics to watch for at progressive locations within the word’s structure. Once the “signal flag” clue has been identified, the corresponding tense(s), voice(s), and mode(s) can be traced to the right-hand side of the chart, where a final determination should be possible. While not intended to be an exhaustive overview of the various Greek verbal characteristics, this chart presents most of the regularly occurring ones. A downloadable PDF is also available anytime from the sidebar of this blog.


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“Deponent?” … “Defective?” … “Middle/Passive?” — “Calling a ‘horse’ a ‘horse.'”

There’s a famous older expression from another generation, even another millenium now, regarding “…calling a ‘horse’ a ‘horse,'” which basically means identifying something for what it really is. In the realm of personal character traits, this might mean simply being honest with yourself and/or others.  In the realm of language and grammatical terminology, it may have some meaning application as well.

For example, within the corpus of Greek grammatical terms, “deponent” is a term appropriately ascribed to a category of Greek verbs appearing with middle or passive endings, yet necessarily translated in the active voice. Examples:

  • ἔρχομαι — Present/Deponent/Indicative/1st person, singular = I am coming, going
  • ἤρχομην — Imperfect/Deponent/Indicative/1st person, singular = I was coming, going

Notice the “parsing” (identification of tense, voice, mode [mood], person, and number) of the above two examples of the deponent verb, ἔρχομαι. While many (if not most)  Greek “parsing” resources will list the parsing of deponent verbs as middle/passive, I have always felt it to be extremely beneficial to “call a ‘horse’ a ‘horse'” when parsing deponent verbs.  There are at least two obvious reasons:

1. It reminds the Greek student that he’s looking at a specific category of Greek verbs (Deponent).

2. It reminds the Greek student not to translate these verbs as middle or passive, since they are neither.

By “calling a ‘horse’ a ‘horse'” and identifying deponent verbs for what they really are, the Greek student will readily recognize and accurately translate these verb with an active voice translation. Remember, too, that some Greek verbs (like ἔρχομαι) may be deponent in one or more tenses or modes without being deponent in all. [Example:  ἤλθον = Aorist/Active/Indicative/1st person, singular/3rd person, plural.] Other “deponent” verbs frequently encountered include: βούλομαι (I am wishing), and πορεύομαι (I am proceeding).

“So,” you may ask, “when are these deponent verbs appropriately called defective?” (Good question.)   (more…)