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Hellenistic Greek © 2009
Lesson 6: Feminine Adjectives

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The Lesson at a Glance

Feminine Adjectives

Greek adjectives have context-sensitive gender—gender that changes to match the grammatical context in which the adjective is used. You have already learned the masculine and neuter forms for many Greek adjectives. In this lesson you will learn the feminine forms for those same adjectives.

Grammatical Discussion

Feminine forms for Adjectives

Lesson five introduced the masculine and neuter forms for most adjectives. In this lesson you will learn to recognize the case forms of feminine adjectives. The effort you invest in learning these forms will be very well rewarded, since the same endings that are used for these feminine adjectives are also used for all feminine first declension nouns, and that is a very large number of nouns. Take the time now to commit this list of case endings to memory.

The nominative case form is the one shown in the vocabulary list. It consists of the root word (the stem) plus a thematic vowel. Look at the vocabulary list below, and you will see that all of the adjectives end with either α or η. That α or η is the thematic vowel. To form the other case forms, case endings are added to this nominative form.

Singular

Nominative

-

The nominative singular adds nothing. It is the form in the vocabulary list.

Genitive

The genitive singular and accusative plural are the same in this list, but you will usually be able to distinguish them by the vowel used to attach the ending to the noun stem.

Dative

The dative singular adds iota subscript.

Accusative

Plural

Nominative

Genitive

-(ο)ν

The ο of the genitive plural will contract with the thematic vowel to produce ω, so the ending you will actually see in Hellenistic Greek texts is -ων.

Dative

-ις

Accusative

Thematic Vowels

Most feminine singular adjectives add the letter η before the singular case endings and α before the plural endings. Adjectives whose stems end with ε, ι, or ρ, however, use α for both singular and plural. Observe the lists below. The only difference between the two sets of singular endings is that one set has α where the other has η. We will call this stem-final vowel the thematic vowel.

Singular

Most feminine adjectives

Feminine adjectives with stems ending in ε, ι, or ρ

Nominative

-η

-α

Genitive

-ης

-ας

Dative

-

-

Accusative

-ην

-αν

Plural

All Feminine Adjectives


Identical Endings?

The confusion between the accusative plural ending and the genitive singular ending exists only for adjectives whose stems end with ε, ι, or ρ. In most contexts, either the article will be present, or the ending of the noun that the adjective modifies will make it clear whether the adjective should be understood as accusative plural or genitive singular.

Nominative

-αι

Genitive

-ων

Dative

-αις

Accusative

-ας

Compare the endings above with the ones you learned for masculine and neuter adjectives by studying the forms of κακός (bad) and ἅγιος (holy). Notice that the stem of ἅγι-ος ends with ι, so its feminine forms have endings with α where those for κακός have η.

SINGULAR

Forms κακός (bad)


Forms ἅγιος (holy)

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter


Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

κακός

κακή

κακόν


ἅγιος

ἁγία

ἅγιον

Genitive

κακο

κακς

κακο


ἁγίου

ἁγίας

ἁγίου

Dative

κακ

κακ

κακ


ἁγί

ἁγί

ἁγί

Accusative

κακόν

κακήν

κακόν


ἅγιον

ἁγίαν

ἅγιον


PLURAL

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter


Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

κακοί

κακαί

κακά


ἅγιοι

ἅγιαι

ἅγια

Genitive

κακν

κακν

κακν


ἁγίων

ἁγίων

ἁγίων

Dative

κακοῖς

κακαῖς

κακοῖς


ἁγίοις

ἁγίαις

ἁγίοις

Accusative

κακούς

κακάς

κακά


ἁγίους

ἁγίας

ἅγια

Notice that the genitive plural ending is always the same, no matter what gender the adjective may be. This is also true for nouns: The genitive plural ending is always -ων.

Exercise 1: Adjective Forms

Study the forms of κακός and ἅγιος carefully, then click here to practice recognizing the gender, case, and number of Hellenistic Greek adjectives.

Vocabulary

Browse through the vocabulary lists below, but do not try to memorize these words yet. When you have read through the lists, do the reading and translating exercise that follows them, then return to these lists to study the words you still don't recognize.

Seven Adjectives

As in the last lesson, adjectives are listed with the masculine nominative singular form, followed by the ending for feminine nominative singular and the one for neuter nominative singular.

Frequency Greek Word English Gloss

155

ἄλλος, -η, -ο

other, another
Contrast ἕτερος, -α, -ον from the previous lesson.

114

ἴδιος, -α, -ον

one’s own, his own, her own

48

ἔρημος, -ον

abandoned, desolate, lonely
When used as a noun, ἔρημος should be translated, “desert.” Notice that this adjective has only two forms in its listing. It uses the masculine endings you have already learned for both its masculine and feminine forms.

55

λοιπός, -ή, -όν

remaining

50

μακάριος, -α, -ον

blessed, happy, fortunate

58

μέσος, -η, -ον

middle, middle of (mesopotamia = the land in the middle between the ποταμοί [rivers])

56

τρίτος, -η, -ον

third (tricycle = a three wheeled vehicle)

Nine Nouns

As you study the list of nouns below, remember that nounsare listed with their nominative singular form, followed by the genitive singular ending, then the nominative singular form of the appropriate article.

Frequency Greek Word English Gloss

63

δαιμόνιον, -ου, τό

demon, evil spirit, spirit, deity

59

διδάσκαλος, -ου, ὁ

teacher

62

θρόνος, -ου, ὁ

throne

60

ἱμάτιον, -ου, τό

garment, clothing

85

καιρός, -ου, ὁ

time, opportunity, occasion

59

λίθος, -ου, ὁ

stone, rock (monolith = a single huge stone)

114

οἶκος, -ου, ὁ

house, home, family, lineage

55

Πιλᾶτος, -ου, ὁ

Pilate

68

πλοῖον, -ου, τό

boat, ship

Reading and Translation

After reading the vocabulay lists above, read the phrases and sentences below, then return to the vocabulary lists to study the words you still do not recognize.

1. [πνεύμα is a third declension noun translated as “spirit.” Use the article (τό) to determine its case, gender, and number. You will study the endings for third declension nouns later.]

τὸ πνεύμα τὸ ἁγίον

The Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:15)

2. [ὅνομα is a third declension noun translated as “name.”]

τὸ ὅνομα αὐτοῦ

His name

3. ἁγίον τὸ ὅνομα αὐτοῦ

Holy is his name (Luke 1:49)
His name is holy

4. πιστὸς ὁ θεός

God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9)

5. ὁ. . . νόμος ἅγιος

The Law is holy (Romans 7:12)

Why does ἅγιος have a masculine form in number 5, but a feminine form in number 6 (below)? Can you explain in your own words before you read the explanation in the box below?

6. [ἐντολή is a first declension noun translated “commandment.” You will study first declension nouns later. The little word ἡ is the feminine nominative singular article. Translate it as "the." Use this article and what you know about adjective endings to determine the case, gender, and number of ἐντολή.]

ἡ ἐντολὴ ἀγία

The commandment is holy (Romans 7:12)

In sentence number 5, ἅγιος (holy) describes the masculine noun, νόμος, so it has a masculine form to match that noun. In number 6 this same adjective describes the feminine noun, ἐντολή, so it has a feminine form to match that feminine noun. Adjectives always agree in case, gender, and number with the noun they modify.

7. ὁ. . . νόμος ἅγιος καὶ ἡ ἐντολὴ ἀγία καὶ δικαία καὶ ἀγαθή.

The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good (Romans 7:12)

8. [ὑμῶν = your]
ὑμῶν. . . μακάριοι οἱ όφθαλμοί

Blessed are your eyes (Matthew 13:16)
Your eyes are blessed

9. Matthew's gospel says that once, when Jesus had taught till late in the day, his disciples became worried that there was no food in the place where they were, so they came to Jesus and said...
ἔρημός ἐστιν ὁ τόπος

The place is desolate (Matthew 14:15)

10. εἰς ἔρημον τόπον

to a lonely place (Mark 6:31)
to a desolate place

11. ἐν ἐρήμῳ τόπῳ ἐσμέν

We are in a lonely place (Luke 9:12)
We are in a desolate place

12. ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ όφθαλμῷ

in one's own eye (Luke 6:41)
in your own eye

13. οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοι

The remaining apostles
The rest of the apostles (1 Corinthians 9:5)

14. [δύναται = is able]

δύναται ὁ θεός
God is able

15. [ἐγεῖραι = to raise, lift up, produce; The neuter noun, τέκνον was intruduced in lesson four. Do you remember what it means? ]

δύναται ὁ θεός ἐγεῖραι τέκνα

God is able to raise children (Matthew 3:9)
God is able to produce children

What case and number is τέκνα in number 15?

It could be either nominative or accusative plural, but in this context it is accusative. It functions as the object of the verb ἐγεῖραι (raise, lift up, produce).

16. δύναται ὁ θεός ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ

God is able to produce children for Abraham

What part of this Greek sentence justifies putting "for" in the translation?

The noun phrase τῷ Ἀβραάμ is dative case. One option for translating a Greek dative-case noun into English is to use the word "for."

17. [τούτο = this]
The object of the preposition ἐκ (of, from) is always assigned genitive case.

ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων

from these stones

18. δύναται ὁ θεός ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ

God is able to raise children from these stones for Abraham (Matthew 3:9)
God is able to raise children for Abraham from these stones

19. According to Matthew's Gospel, Jesus once challenged his listeners by telling them that they were able to recognize the signs of bad weather, but they could not recognize. . .
τὰ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν

the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3)

20. He told them they were able to recognize the signs of bad weather by saying they knew how to recognize. . .
τὸ . . . πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ

the appearance of the sky (Matthew 16:3)

Vocabulary Quiz

Use the following exercises to help you learn the vocabulary for this lesson.