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Hellenistic Greek © 2009, 2015
Lesson 15: Third Declension Nouns (Consonant Stems)

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The Lesson at a Glance

Third-Declension Nouns

You have already learned the forms for first and second declension nouns. Third declension nouns are used in the same way as these, but have different endings.

Consonant Stem Nouns

Some nouns have stems that end with a consonant. Others have stems ending in a vowel. With third declension nouns, this distinction influences the spelling of the case endings.

Grammatical Discussion

Introduction to Third Declension Nouns

When you studied the second declension, you learned that most second declension nouns are masculine, and some are neuter. Most first declension nouns are feminine, but some are masculine. Nouns of all three genders are found in the third declension.

This group is the most irregular group of Greek nouns. For that reason, studying the third declension may prove frustrating at first. Simply try to notice as many patterns as you can rather than attempting to memorize every detail of every paradigm. With time you will become more accustomed to these forms.

Third declension nouns are characterized by various contractions (spelling changes caused by the interaction of two adjoining letters). We will examine these nouns in two different categories: those with stems ending in a consonant, and those with stems ending in a vowel.

In the vocabulary list, the nominative singular form of the third declension noun is given, followed by its genitive singular ending or, in some cases, the entire genitive singular form. With third declension nouns, learning the genitive singular form is very important. For most third declension nouns, it is the most reliable indicator of what the dative and accusative forms will look like.

Formation of Third Declension Nouns

The lists below include most kinds of third declension noun used in the New Testament. A few more will be presented in the next lesson.

While it is useful to learn the paradigms, the similarities in their patterns should make it possible for you to identify most third declension forms even if you cannot remember the entire paradigm for the relevant form.

Masculine and feminine third declension nouns use the same set of endings. Neuter third declension nouns use a slightly different set. The basic endings for third declension nouns are as follows. A long dash (—) indicates that no case ending is used.

Case

Masculine / Feminine Endings

Neuter Endings

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Nom.

-ς or —

-ες

Gen.

-ος

-ων

-ος

-ων

Dat.

-σι

-σι

Acc.

-α or —

-ας

While these endings are strikingly different from the ones you have already learned, two of them should be very familiar. Notice that all genitive plural nouns, regardless of declension, end with -ων. Virtually all nominative and accusative neuter plural forms, regardless of their declension, end with -α.

You have also already learned that all first declension nouns have -ας as their accusative plural ending. Masculine and feminine nouns of the third declension use this same ending for the accusative plural.

Many students find it helpful to learn the most common masculine and feminine endings first using the following phrase: σόσια ἐσώνσιας. This phrase consists of two nonsense words created by putting the masculine / feminine endings together one after another as follows: ς-ος-ι-α ες-ων-σι-ας. The first “word” contains all of the singular endings, and the second contains all of the plural endings.

Finding the Stem

To determine the spelling of the stem of a third declension noun, you must know the genitive singular form (the second form shown in the vocabulary list). Remove the genitive singular case ending (-ος), and you have the basic spelling of the noun stem.

For example, the basic stem of the noun ἀνήρ (man) is ἀνδρ- (the genitive form, ἀνδρός minus its case ending, -ος). This is the spelling you need in order to recognize all of the other case forms of this word. As you learn the vocabulary for this lesson (and all future lessons), be sure to learn both the nominative and genitive singular forms for each noun.

Consonant Stems and Spelling Changes

While I discuss these patterns as a matter of "spelling" changes, they are really patterns of pronunciation. Spelling in Ancient Greek was simply a written reflection of pronunciation. Standardization of Greek spelling came much later.

Masculine and feminine third declension nouns may have -ς as the nominative singular ending. All third declension nouns use the ending -σι for the dative plural. For nouns whose stems end with one of the consonants listed below, the sigma of these endings causes the same spelling changes that the sigma of the first aorist forms causes for verbs. Review those changes now:

Stem Consonant

+ σ

= New Spelling

π

β

φ

+ σ

= ψ

κ

γ

χ

+ σ

= ξ

τ

δ

θ

+ σ

= σ

Stems that end with ν lose the ν when σ is added:

Stem Consonant

+ σ

= New Spelling

ν

+ σ

= σ

Observe the forms of the following nouns. Do not try to memorize all of these forms yet. Simply note how the endings listed above influence the spelling of the stem of each noun.

Masculine Singular

Stem

σάρκ-
flesh

παῖδ-
child

ἄρχοντ-
ruler

Nom.

σάρξ

παῖς

ἄρχων

Gen.

σαρκός

παιδός

ἄρχοντος

Dat.

σαρκί

παιδί

ἄρχοντι

Acc.

σάρκα

παίδα

ἄρχοντα

Masculine Plural

Nom.

σάρκες

παῖδες

ἄρχοντες

Gen.

σαρκῶν

παἰδων

ἀρχόντων

Dat.

σαρξί(ν)

παισί(ν)

ἄρχουσι(ν)

Acc.

σάρκας

παῖδας

ἄρχοντας

Neuter Singular

Stem:

πνεῦματ-
Spirit

Nom.

πνεῦμα

Gen.

πνεύματος

Dat.

πνεύματι

Acc.

πνεῦμα

Neuter Plural

Nom.

πνεύματα

Gen.

πνευμάτων

Dat.

πνεύμασι(ν)

Acc.

πνεύματα

Exercise One: Recognize Consonant Stem 3rd Declension Nouns.

Click here to practice recognizing third declension nouns whose stems end with one of the consonants discussed above.

Stems Ending in Liquid Consonants

A liquid consonant is one where some part of the tongue is placed in contact with the roof of the mouth, and air is passed through the opening around it. Hellenistic Greek had two liquid consonants: λ and ρ.

The nouns in the two charts below (πατήρ, ἀνήρ, and σωτήρ and ἀλέκτωρ) have stems that end with a liquid consonant. All of them have separate forms for the vocative case singular (the case used for direct address). They indicate the vocative case by using the short form of the last stem vowel and shifting the accent back one syllable farther from the ending. The vocative of πατήρ is πάτερ. The vocative of ἀνήρ is ἄνερ.

The spelling of the stem for the dative plural forms of these nouns is unpredictable, but the dative plural ending is still recognizable.

Singular

Stem:

πατήρ-
father

ἀνδρ-
man

Nom.

πατήρ

ἀνήρ

Gen.

πατρός

ἀνδρός

Dat.

πατρί

ἀνδρί

Acc.

πατέρα

ἄνδρα

Voc.

πάτερ

ἄνερ

Plural

Nom.

πατέρες

ἄνδρες

Gen.

πατέρων

ἀνδρῶν

Dat.

πατράσι(ν)

ἀνδράσι(ν)

Acc.

πατέρας

ἄνδρας

Singular

Stem:

σωτήρ-
healer

ἀλέκτορ-
roster

Voc.

σώτερ

ἀλέκτορ

Nom.

σωτήρ

ἀλέκτωρ

Gen.

σωτῆρος

ἀλέκτορος

Dat.

σωτῆρι

ἀλέκτορι

Acc.

σωτῆρα

ἀλέκτορα

Plural

Nom.

σωτῆρες

ἀλέκτορες

Gen.

σωτήρων

ἀλεκτόρων

Dat.

σωτῆρσι(ν)

ἀλέκτορσι(ν)

Acc.

σωτῆρας

ἀλέκτορας

Stems Ending in Nasal Consonants

A nasal consonant is one where air is passed through the nasal cavity as in the English sounds /m/ and /n/. Hellenistic Greek had two nasal consonants: μ and ν.

Most third declension nouns whose stems end in a nasal consonant follow the pattern below.

Notice that the nominative singular form does not add any ending at all. Notice also that final nasal consonants are omitted with the addition of the dative plural ending beginning with σ.

Singular

Stem

ποιμεν-
shepherd

αἰών-
epoch

ἡγεμον-
prince

Nom.

ποιμήν

αἰών

ἡγεμών

Gen.

ποιμένος

αἰῶνος

ἡγεμόνος

Dat.

ποιμένι

αἰῶνι

ἡγεμόνι

Acc.

ποιμένα

αἰῶνα

ἡγεμόνα

Vocative

ποίμεν

αἴον

ἡγέμον

Plural

Nom.

ποιμένες

αἰῶνες

ἡγεμόνες

Gen.

ποιμένων

αἰώνων

ἡγεμόνων

Dat.

ποιμέσι(ν)

αἰῶσι(ν)

ἡγεμόσι(ν)

Acc.

ποιμένας

αἰῶνας

ἡγεμόνας

Exercise Two: Stems Ending in a Liquid or Nasal Consonants

Find the correct form of third declension nouns whose stems end with a liquid consonant.

Exercises Three & Four: Identify Noun Cases

Match the case and number for consonant stem third-declension nouns.
Drag the case and number card to the correct liquid or nasal stem third-declension noun.

Vocabulary

This list contains eighteen of the third declension nouns that occur fifty times or more in the New Testament. The rest will be presented in the next lesson.

As with all nouns in this course, each one is given with its nominative singular form followed by its genitive singular form and the nominative singular article of the appropriate gender. It is extremely important that you learn both the nominative singular and the genitive singular form for each third declension noun. You will need to know the genitive singular form for most of them in order to recognize the stem, and you will need the nominative singular form in order to look the word up in a lexicon.

For now, just browse through the list looking for patterns in the relationship between the two forms of each word. When you have finished the exercises, return to this list to memorize any words you still do not recognize.

97

αἷμα, αἵματος, τό

blood, kin; death (The prefix “hem-” in words like “hemoglobin” means blood.)

122

αἰών, αἰῶνος, ὁ

eternity, age, epoch (aeon = an immeasurably long period of time)

216

ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός, ὁ

man, husband (android = a human-like robot)

215

γυνή, γυναικός, ἡ

woman, wife (misogynist = a person who hates women) [The vocative singular form of γυνή is γυναί. The accusative singular is γυναῖκα. Otherwise this word follows the paradigm for σάρξ.]

53

ἐλπίς, ἐλπίδος, ἡ

hope

61

νύξ, νυκτός, ἡ

night [νύξ is conjugated like σάρξ, but with κτ for κ.]

231

ὄνομα, ὀνόματος, τό

name, title

413

πατήρ, πατρός, ὁ

father, ancestor (paternal)

379

πνεῦμα, πνεύματος, τό

spirit, wind

93

πούς, ποδός, ὁ

foot (tripod = a camera stand with three feet. [The dative plural of πούς is πόσιν. Otherwise πούς is conjugated like παῖς.

71

πῦρ, πυρός, τό

fire (a funeral pyre is a fire on which a body is burned)

68

ῥῆμα, ῥήματος, τό

word, saying (Contrast λόγος.)

147

σάρξ, σαρκός, ἡ

flesh, body (a sarcophagus is a box in which a body is buried)

75

Σίμων, Σίμωνος, ὁ

Simon

142

σῶμα, σώματος, τό

body, reality (psychosomatic = an illness where the mind affects the body)

73

φῶς, φωτός, τό

light, fire (fotography = producing pictures by exposing film to light)

155

χάρις, χάριτος, ἡ

grace, thanks [χάρις is declined like παῖς, but its accusative singular form is χάριν, although occasionally χάριτα.]

177

χείρ, χειρός, ἡ

hand (The prefix chir- in words like chirography and chiropractor means “hand.”) [χείρ is declined like σωτήρ, except that its dative plural form is
χερσί(ν).]

Reading and Translation

Can you recognize the case of the noun ἔθνους in this text? If you do not recognize the form, can you find a clue in the text? There is another word that can tell you the case of ἔθνους

1. [ὑπέρ = on behalf of, for; ἀποθνήσκειν is the present active infinitive of ἀποθνήσκω. Translate it as “to die.”]

ἔμελλεν Ἰησοῦς ἀποθνῄσκειν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους, καὶ οὐχ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους μόνον

Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only (John 11.51-52).

2. [ὑμῖν = to you (plural); ἡμῶν = “of us,” or “our”]

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Grace to you and peace from God our father and [our] Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:2)

What case and number do you think πᾶσιν is? Can you explain why it is assigned that case?

3. [σύν = with; πᾶσιν is a form of πᾶς (all).]

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. . . τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ. . . ἐν Κορίνθῳ σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. . . to God’s church. . . in Corinth with all the saints. . . (2 Corinthians 1:1)

Notice that the article (τοῖς) is included twice in this segment, once before the adjective ἁγίοις and once before the prepositional phrase ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ. The repetition of the article before the prepositional phrase tells the reader that the prepositional phrase modifies ἁγίοις, the adjective that appears with the first article.

4. [ὅλος = whole]

. . . σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς. . . ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ

. . . with all the saints. . . in the whole of Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1)

5. [Διά, when followed by a word in the genitive case, is translated as “through,” or "by means of." When followed by a word in the accusative case, διά is translated as “because of” or “for the sake of.” To translate διά correctly in the sentence that follows, you must correctly identify the case of θελήματος.]

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God (2 Corinthians 1:1)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus because of the will of God

Notice that the article (τῇ) is included twice in this sentence: once before the noun ἐκκλησίᾳ and once before the prepositional phrase ἐν Κορίνθω. Repetition of the article with the prepositional phrase indicates that this phrase modifies the noun ἐκκλησίᾳ that appears with the first article. It tells where that particular ἐκκλησίᾳ is located.

6. Παῦλος. . . καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός, τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ. . . ἐν Κορίνθω

Paul. . . and Timothy [our] brother, to the church of God in Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:1)

7. Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός, τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ. . . ἐν Κορίνθω σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς. . . ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God in Corinth with all the saints. . . in Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:1—2).

8. You have already learned that ὁ προφήτης is translated as “prophet.” Can you guess what the verb ἐπροφήτευσα means?

ἐπροφήτευσα = I prophesied

9. In the following question, translate σῷ as “your.” Κύριε is the vocative case form of κύριος The vocative case is used for direct address. It indicates that the speaker is speaking directly to the listener. [οὐ = not]

κύριε, κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ όνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν. . . ;

Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name. . . ? (Matthew 7.22)
Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name. . . ?

10. κύριε, κύριε, οὐ. . . τῷ σῷ όνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν. . . ;

Lord, Lord, did we not. . . cast out demons in your name. . . ? (Matthew 7.22)
Lord, Lord, didn't we. . . cast out demons in your name. . . ?

11. Πολλάς is a form of πολύς. Can you determine its case and number? [Ἡ δύναμις = great work, powerful deed.]

κύριε, κύριε, οὐ. . . τῷ σῷ όνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν;

Lord, Lord, did we not. . . do many mighty works in your name? (Matthew 7.22).
Lord, Lord, didn't we. . . do many mighty deeds in your name?

12. Write the lexical form of the verb ἐποιήσαμεν?

STOP!

Try to find the lexical form by yourself before you look at the answer below.

The lexical form of ἐποιήσαμεν is ποιέω.

13. κύριε, κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ όνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ όνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ όνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν;

Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name? (Matthew 7.22)

14. [A form of the verb προσκυνέω (I worship) appears in the following sentence. See if you can identify its form and translate it appropriately.]

πατέρες ἡμῶν. . . προσεκύνησαν

Our fathers. . . worshiped
Our ancestors. . . worshiped (John 4:20)

15. προσεκύνησαν is the aorist active indicative, third singular form of the verb προσκυνέω.

Which letter is the augment in this aorist form?

The augment in the form προσεκύνησαν is the letter ε inserted between the preposition πρός and the main verb stem.

16. [τούτῳ is the dative neuter singular form of οὕτος ("this"). Ὄρει is a form of the noun ὄρος (mountain). Can you tell what case and number it is?

πατέρες ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ προσεκύνησαν

Our fathers worshiped on this mountain (John 4.20).

17. ἦν ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς

He was a good man (Acts 11:24)

Given no more context than you have in number 17, you could also translate this sentence as “There was a good man” or even “A man was good.” The larger context in the eleventh chapter of Acts, however, rules out these options. The “good man” is Barnabas, mentioned in verse 22. The translations “There was a good man,” and “A man was good” both assume that the good man has not yet been mentioned.

18. Translate σου in the following sentence as “your.” Yes. This is the same translation as for σῷ above. [Εἰσῆλθον is a form of the verb εἰσέρχομαι. Do you recognize what form is it?]

εἰσῆλθόν σου εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν

I went into your house
They went into your house

Eἰσῆλθον is the aorist active indicative, first singular AND third plural form of εἰσέρχομαι (I come in, I enter) As with all second aorist forms, the first person singular form is identical to the third person plural form. Notice that the lexical form and the aorist form are built on different stems.

Because the stem for the second aorist form is usually very different from the lexical form, you must learn both the lexical form and the aorist stem for each new verb you encounter.

19. Translate μοι as “to me” in the following sentence. [Ἔδωκας is a form of δίδωμι (I give). Can you tell what form it is?]

ἔδωκας is the aorist active indicative second singular form of δίδωμι.

ὕδωρ μοι ἐπὶ πόδας οὐκ ἔδωκας

You did not give me water upon [my] feet (Luke 7:44)
You did not wash my feet.

20. εἰσῆλθόν σου εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν, ὕδωρ μοι ἐπὶ πόδας οὐκ ἔδωκας

I entered your house, [and] you did not give me water upon my feet
I entered your house, and you did not wash my feet (Luke 7:44)

21. [καθώς = just as] How should διά be translated in the following sentence? Remember that it is translated as “through” or "by means of" if the noun following it is genitive case, but as “because of,” or “for the sake of” if the following noun is accusative case.

καθὼς ἐλάλησεν διὰ. . . προφητῶν αὐτοῦ. . .

Just as he said through. . . his prophets. . . (Luke 1:70)

22. καθὼς ἐλάλησεν διὰ στόματος τῶν ἁγίων. . . προφητῶν αὐτοῦ. . .

Just as he said through. . . [the] mouth of his holy prophets. . . (Luke 1:70)

23. [ἀπ᾽ is a shortened form of ἀπό ("from"). The phrase ἀπ᾽ αἰῶνος is an idomatic expression meaning “from long ago,” “from the distant past,” “from of old.”]

καθὼς ἐλάλησεν διὰ στόματος τῶν ἁγίων ἀπ᾽ αἰῶνος προφητῶν αὐτοῦ. . .

Just as he said through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. . . (Luke 1.70)

24. Can you determine the lexical form of αἰῶνος? Try to write it yourself before you look at the answer below.

Aἰῶνος is the genitive singular form of αἰών (epoc, eaon, age, eternity).

25. [Τίμα is a command. Translate it as “Honor.”]

τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου

Honor your father and your mother (Mark 7:10)

26. Translate and identify the following form:

εὕρον

I found [it] OR They found [it]

Εὕρον is the aorist active indicative, 1st singular AND 3rd plural of εὑρίσκω (I find).

27. [καθώς = just as, just like]

ερον καθώς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς

They found it just as he told them (Mark 14:16)

28. [τὸ πάσχα = passover meal; ἐτοιμάζω = I prepare]

ἐξῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ καὶ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν πόλιν καὶ ερον καθώς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς καὶ ἡτοίμασαν τὸ πάσχα.

The disciples left and went to the city and found it just as he told them, and they prepared the passover meal (Mark 14:16).

Vocabulary Practice

Practice with Vocabulary Cards.
Take a practice quiz to see how many third-declension nouns you can recognize.