Greek Adjectives: Formation, Uses and Translation

Adjectives   are   declined   in   all   three   declensions.  With   the exception  of   certain   3rd   Declension   adjectives   (like πᾶς,  πᾶσα,   πᾶν   –   all,   each,   every),   the   Masculine   adjective   forms   like   the   2nd   Declension   noun,   λόγος,   ὁ.  Τhe Feminine   adjective   normally   forms   like   1st   Declension   Feminines   whose   nominative   singular   case   ends   in   “η.” Finally,   the   Neuter  adjective  forms  like  2nd  Declension Neuter  nouns  (e.g.,  τέκνον,  τὸ). The  Definite   Article   also   displays   these   forms,   with   the   exception   of   the   Neuter   Nominative   and   Accusative  singular  forms,  which  do  not retain  the  final  ν.

Formation of Greek Adjectives 1st, 2nd, 3rd Decl Chart

Frequently  Used  3rd  Declension  and  Irregular Adjectives:     

There   are   several   frequently   occurring   Greek   adjectives   which,   although   “irregular,”   are   formed   using   all   three   Greek   declensions. The   declensions   of   ἀληθής,   -­ες   (true),   πολύς,  πολλή,  πολύ  (much,  many),  and  µέγας,  µεγάλη,  μέγα (great)  can  be  observed   in  the  following  paradigm:

Frequently Used 3rd Decl. and Irreg. Greek Adjectives Chart

Uses  and  Translation  

Adjectives  will always agree in  gender,  case,  and  number  with the  substantives  (nouns,   pronouns,  or  other  adjectives) they modify. Hence,  τοῦ  πιστοῦ  δοῦλου  =  of  the  faithful   servant   (all   masculine,   genitive,   singular),   or   τῇ   πρωτῇ   ἡµέρ   =   on   the   first   day   (all   feminine,  locative,  singular). Based  on its  position  in  the  Greek  sentence,  an  adjective will  always modify  a  substantive  in  one  of  two  ways:

(1)  Attributively   as   an   adherent   description.  The   attributive position   of   the   Greek   adjective   is   always   immediately   following   a   definite   article,   regardless   of   whether   the   adjective  precedes  or  follows  the  substantive  it  modifies.


ὁ  πίστος δοῦλος
                                 =    the  faithful  servant

ὁ  δοῦλος  ὁ  πίστος

(2) As  a  Predicate  adjective,  presenting  an  additional statement.  The  predicate  position     of   the   Greek   adjective   occurs   wherever   the   adjective   does   not   immediately   follow a   definite  article.    In  these  instances,  the  predicate  (is,  are) should  be  supplied. 


ὁ  δοῦλος πίστος 
                                 =    the servant is faithful  

πίστος ὁ  δοῦλος

Published in: on May 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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Okay, What’s It’s Gonna Be, “Yes” or “No”?

One of two Greek negatives— οὐ or μή —is found in direct questions to indicate the specific kind of answer the questioner expects. For beginning Greek students, it’s helpful to remember that when translating these Greek questions with negatives into English, your translation should be worded in a way that “puts the expected answer” into your reader’s/hearer’s mind.

(1) When a Yes” answer is expected to a Greek question, οὐ is used:

οὐ τῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν; (Matt. 7:22).
“Did we not prophesy by Thy name?” (Ans.: Yes.”)
“We prophesied by Thy name, didn’t we?” (Better—more clearly expecting the Yes” answer)

(2) Using μή + Indicative mode in direct questions expecting a No answer, the questioner would be shaking his head (No) from side to side:

εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησους τοῖς δώδεκα μή καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε ὑπάγειν; (John 6:67)
“Then Jesus said to the Twelve, You do not wish to go away also, do you?” (Ans.: No.”)

A practical, everyday, contemporary way of understanding this is to think about how you would phrase questions in English where you are expecting either a Yesor a Noanswer.  Put within the realm of parents conversations with their children, it might sound something like this:

Question expecting a Noanswer: “You don’t want Mommy/Daddy to spank you, do you?”  (“Nope.”)

Question expecting a Yes answer:  “You’d like to go get some ice cream, wouldn’t you?” (“Absolutely yes!”)


Greek Indicative Verb Tenses Formation Charts & PowerPoint

Indicative Mode Greek verbs can be readily learned utilizing a memory system that encapsulates the verb’s personal endings into a numbering system that can be plugged into an easily recognizable and memorable “formula” for each of the Greek verb tenses and voices. All other Greek verbal modes (as well as Participles, which are verbal-adjectives) can be memorized under similar systems which are included within Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK.


Using an “odd” and “even” numbering system which re-codes the verb column numbers with the endings’ thematic vowel, this memory paradigm can be reduced to four basic columns of verb endings that need to be mastered. All of the Greek Indicative Mode tenses and their respective voices can be formed off of variations of these four basic columns of verb endings. Click here to download the “PowerPoint” presentation. Similar paradigms can be utilized for all Greek modes, including the Subjunctive, Imperative, and Optative Modes, as well as Participles.

“Abso-tively, Posi-lutely” Unusual: The Greek “Genitive Absolute” Construction!

Yes, the Greek “Genitive Absolute” construction is “abso-tively, posi-lutely unusual!! But . . . you can still translate this unusual Greek construction. Here are five plausible steps for recognizing and translating the  “Genitive Absolute” —

(1) Identify the “Genitive Absolute” construction = a circumstantial participle and a noun or pronoun, both occurring in the genitive case in a “dependent” clause.


1. χρονίζοντος δὲ τοῦ νυμφίου ἐνύσταξαν πᾶσαι καὶ ἐκάθευδον.(Matt. 25:5)

“And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”

2.τοῦ δὲ ‘Ιησοῦ γεννήθεντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ . . . ἰδοῦ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς ’Ιεροσόλυμα.(Matthew 2:1)

“And after Jesus was born in Bethlehem . . . behold wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem.”

(2) Translate the main (“independent”) clause of the sentence (the part not containing the “genitive absolute” construction).

(3) Identify the time frame (present or past time) of the Indicative verb in the main (“independent”) clause. The time frame of the participle in the “genitive absolute” construction will be translated either as being “simultaneous” with the time frame of the Indicative verb of the main (“independent”) clause, or as occurring “prior” to the time frame of the main Indicative verb (see point 5, below).

(4) Translate the noun or pronoun in the “genitive absolute” construction (“dependent” clause) as if it were in the Nominative case. And finally . . .

(5Translate the genitive participle as an indicative verb, preceded by the adverbial, circumstantial word “While…” if the participle is a Present tense participle, or with the word “After…” if the participle is in the Aorist tense.

Click here for a downloadable PDF, also available anytime from the sidebar under the category GREEK “UNUSUAL CONSTRUCTIONS”.

“Go ahead and salivate!” — A Proven Method for Greek Vocabulary Study and Mastery

Here’s a proven method for vocabulary card creation, study and mastery. It’s based on the principle, familiar to some, called “conditioning” (“conditioned reflex”). In the 1890s Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov demonstrated a repetitive occurrence in the behavior of dogs when presented with food accompanied by an additional stimulus (e.g., ringing a bell). Each time the dogs were presented with food, evoking salivation, a bell was rung simultaneously. After numerous trials of food presentation, accompanied by a ringing bell, with consistent occurrences of salivation by the dogs, the trials were run the ringing without food being presented—yet the dogs continued to salivate in successive trials.

This same “conditioning” principle is very effective in producing consistent memory results when studying Greek vocabulary. Since most pre-printed vocabulary cards only include the Greek word on the front of the card with the corresponding definition on the back, it’s important to create your own vocabulary cards with an important addition. Even if you use pre-printed cards, adding this additional information is critically important. “What is the additional information?” you may ask.  It is simply this: Write the Greek vocabulary word (learning occurs here, too) not only on the front of the vocabulary card, but also on the back of the card—with the definition immediately under it. In this way, you are associating the original Greek word (i.e., the “bell”) with its definition (i.e., the “food”), so that, when you turn the card over to the front side, even though it’s not really there, after repetitive viewings you will actually “see” the definition under the Greek word on the front side of the card as well!  In a sense, you can “salivate” all the way through your study of frequently used New Testament Greek vocabulary in gaining a mastery of those words. Try it; it really does work!!

picture-3.png FRONT of  Card (click to enlarge)
BACK of Card (click to enlarge)

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Judas and Jesus—A Reminder of Our Depravity (Matthew 26:25)

Here is a verse that provides and excellent example of how, oftentimes, our English bible translations simply fail to render the original Greek in the most accurate manner. Within Greek grammatical rules is a grammatical structure where if one of two Greek negatives, οὐ, is used in a question, then the questioner is expecting a “Yes” answer. Conversely, if the other of the two negatives, μή, is used, a “No” answer is expected. In the following verse under consideration, the New American Standard version gets it right, while the highly reputable English Standard version unexpectedly seems to miss it.

The setting is the last Passover Jesus will share with the twelve disciples. Among the twelve, of course, is Judas, who has already secured his booty of silver from the chief priests in exchange for his impending betrayal of Jesus (v. 15). This fact is key to understanding the importance of the Greek grammatical structure in verse 25!

Now, knowing what has occurred in earlier in verse 15, Matt. 26:25 is even more startling, when in answer to Jesus’ all-knowing statement that one of his disciples would betray him, Judas emphatically asks Jesus, “It is not I, is it, Rabbi?” — μήτι ἐγώ εἰμι, ῥαββι;

According to Greek usage, Judas is expecting—at least in his mind and heart—a “No” answer from his omniscient Lord. This, in spite of the fact that, shortly after “Satan entered into Judas” (Luke 22:3), he has already been paid by the chief priests for the yet uncommitted deed of betrayal. Yet, surely Judas reasonably should have known by then that Jesus, the very Son of God, would know what was in his heart. A reminder and warning to us all of our depraved condition, most clearly set forth by Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

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FLASH! Card!! Study!!! All the Words in the Greek New Testament Occurring More than 10 times!

For an online flashcard study of all the New Testament words occurring more than 10 times per Bruce Metzger’s Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek frequency lists (supported with words noted by Sake Kubo from his Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament >50x word usage appendix), click here. Each Greek vocabulary word occurs not only on the front of the vocabulary card, but also on the back of the card—with the definition immediately under it. In this way, you are associating the original Greek word with its definition, so that, when you turn the card over to the front side—even though the “answer” is not really there—after repetitive viewings you will actually “see” the definition under the Greek word on the front side of the card as well!  Some cards also include a “third side” clue to the word’s meaning (see screen shot example below).

Here’s a visual example—via screen shots—of what you’ll find once you’re on the “” (formerly “Flashcard”) site.

1) Word frequency categories listing —

2) Word frequency group selected —

3) Features & Navigation —

4)  Sample Vocabulary Card (Front) —

5)  Sample Vocabulary Card “Third Side” Definition Clue —

6) Sample Vocabulary Card (Back) showing Greek word coupled with its English definition —

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Online Greek & Hebrew Reader’s Bible (Analytical)

For those who learn visually and love to have an organized, systematic way of studying and memorizing, this analytical Greek (& Hebrew) Reader’s Bible web application (click to go there) is replete with 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 (click image below to enlarge) 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 also assign colors to the words in the Greek text, according to parts 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!

link to this Bible Web App site is also available from the sidebar of  this “It’s All Greek to YOU!” site under the Online Greek Study Resources topical heading.

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“Getting (Up Close and) Personal” with Personal Pronouns

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“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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