Bookmark and Share

Previous Lesson

Table of Contents

Next Lesson

Hellenistic Greek © 2009
Lesson 17: The Present Tense (Review and Expansion)

Greek-Language.com

The Lesson at a Glance

Present Tense Forms

In this lesson you will review the present tense verb forms you have seen so far and add all of the others found in Hellenistic Greek.

Present Tense Usage

You will expand your understanding of how the present tense was used in Hellenistic Greek.




Grammatical Discussion

Present Tense Usage in English and Greek

English has separate ways of expressing the simple present and the present progressive.

I eat lunch in the cafeteria. . . [almost every day].
I am eating lunch in the cafeteria. . . [right now].

Hellenistic Greek used the same present tense forms listed above to express both of these ideas. You must use the larger context to determine the precise meaning.

Ambiguities of tense and aspect are found in every language. Compare the verb forms in the following two English sentences, for example:

I am eating in the cafeteria. . . [right now].
I am eating in the cafeteria. . . [next Tuesday].

It is the larger context ("right now" versus "next Tuesday") that tells us one statement is intended as present while the other is intended as future. It is not the verb form itself that conveys this information.

Using Context Clues. Context is crucial in determining the precise meaning of any part of a text. Hellenistic Greek verb forms distinguished more clearly than English between present and future tense, but less clearly than English between simple and progressive aspect in these two tenses. You must always examine the context to determine whether simple or progressive aspect is intended with the Greek present and future tenses.

Context is also crucial in determining whether to translate a Hellenistic Greek present as an English present or as an English simple past. In both English and Greek it is possible to use a present tense verb form to talk about something that happened in the past.

We went to the mall yesterday. James buys a new bike, and within ten minutes he's in trouble for riding it inside the mall.

The present tense verb forms "buys" and "he's" (short for "he is") are used here to refer to something that happened "at the mall yesterday." This same strategy of using the present tense to make a discussion about the past sound more immediate and exciting was used in Hellenistic Greek. Scholars call this the historical present. When you encounter a present tense form, you cannot assume that it refers to the present. You must examine the context to be sure.

What you can know for sure when you encounter a Greek present form is that the focus is not on when the action begins or ends. The Greek present form indicates imperfective verbal aspect. That is, it conveys a focus on the ongoing action, not on the beginning or end of the process.

Present Tense Verb Forms

You have already seen many of the forms used for the present tense. Some were introduced in lesson 8. Others have shown up in the reading and translation exercises since then. In this lesson you will review those forms and learn the rest.

Ω Conjugation

The present and future of Ω Conjugation verbs (like ἀκού-ω) use the same set of endings.

Person 

Singular

Plural

Greek

English

Greek

English

First


I

-ομεν

we

Second

-εις

you

-ετε

you

Third

-ει

she, he, it

-ουσι(ν)

they

The difference between the present and future verb forms is the stem they use. You will learn to recognize the future tense stem in the next lesson. The present tense uses the stem you see in the lexical form of each verb.

Compare the list of endings above to the forms of the verb ἀκούω below. When you are confident that you can recognize all six of these endings, you are ready to complete the exercises below and move on to the discussion of μι conjugation verbs.

Person 

Singular

Plural

Greek

English

Greek

English

First

ἀκούω

I hear, I listen

ἀκούομεν

We hear, We listen

Second

ἀκούεις

You hear, You listen

ἀκούετε

You hear, You listen

Third

ἀκούει

She hears, He hears, It hears, etc.

ἀκούουσι(ν)

They hear, They listen

Recognizing the Present of Ω Conjugation Verbs (Coming Soon)

Practice recognizing the person and number of present tense forms of ω conjugation verbs.

Practice distinguishing between present and aorist forms of ω conjugation verbs.

ΜΙ Conjugation

Μι Conjugation verbs (like δίδω-μι) use a different set of endings in the present tense, and you have only seen a few of these so far.

Person 

Singular

Plural

Greek

English

Greek

English

First

-μι

I

-μεν

we

Second

you

-τε

you

Third

-σι(ν)

she, he, it

-ασι(ν)

they

Take a few minutes to study these endings and compare them to the forms for the present tense of δίδωμι below.

Person 

Singular

Plural

Greek

English

Greek

English

First

δίδωμι

I give

δίδομεν

We give

Second

δίδως

You give

δίδοτε

You give

Third

δίδωσι(ν)

She gives, He gives, It gives, etc.

διδόασι(ν)

They give

Stem vowel quality. The singular forms of μι conjugation verbs have a long stem vowel (δίδωμι) while the plural forms have its short equivalent (δίδομεν). This difference in vowel quality is characteristic of the present tense of μι conjugation verbs.

Reduplication. The present tense stem of most μι conjugation verbs is formed through a process called reduplication. Reduplication is a doubling of the first syllable. The form of the reduplicated syllable depends on the first sound of the basic stem.

Initial Consonant Type

Basic
Stem

Reduplicated
Stem

Stop

-δω-

διδω-

Fricative

-θη-

τιθη-

Sibilant

-στη-

στη-

If the basic stem begins with a stop (a consonant that  stops the flow of air for an instant), that consonant is repeated, as with δί-δω-μι.

If the stem begins with an fricative (a consonant that does not stop the air flow, but restricts it), the fricative consonant is repeated by a non-fricative equivalent, as with τί-θη-μι.

In both of these cases, the vowel used to separate the reduplicated consonant from the original is ι.

A sibilant is a consonant produced by placing the tongue close to the roof of the mouth, just behind the teeth, and forcing air between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.

If the stem begins with σ (a sibilant), the redupication takes a quite different form. The σ itself is not doubled, but the ι is written with a rough breathing mark, as with -στη-μι.

If the first sound of the basic stem is a vowel, reduplication does not occur. There is no reduplication in the verb ἀπόλλυμι, for example (ἀπό + ὄλλυμι = ἀπόλλυμι, I ruin, destroy).

Recognizing the Present of Μι Conjugation Verbs

Practice recognizing the present tense person and number of μι conjugation verbs.

Practice distinguishing between present and aorist forms of μι conjugation verbs.

Vocabulary

Look over the following vocabulary list, but do not try to memorize all of the words yet. Just read through the list of Greek words and English translation suggestions. Then complete the reading and translation exercise. After completing that exercise, return to this list and try to memorize any words you still do not recognize.

100

ἀλλήλων

one another, each other

126

ἀμήν

so be it, let it be so, truly
In a specifically religious context, ἀμήν can be translated as "amen," but you should keep in mind that at the time of the Greek New Testament, the word did not have a specifically religious meaning. That developed later.

90

ἀπόλλυμι, ἀπώλεσα

I ruin, destroy (something)

21

βασιλεύω, ἐβασίλευσα

I rule; I am king

1036

γάρ

for, since, because; certainly, so, then

666

διά

+ genitive: through
+ accusative
: because of, on account of

62

δοκέω, ἔδοξα

I think, believe; I seem

502

εἰ

if
When εἰ is used to introduce a question, it is often necessary to leave εἰ untranslated. In printed Greek texts, questions end with a question mark (;). When you see that mark at the end of a clause introduced by εἰ, leave εἰ untranslated.

467

μετά

+ genitive: with
+ accusative: after, behind

1647

οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ

no, not

49

παραλαμβάνω, παρέλαβον

I take, take along; I bring along with me

159

τότε

then

66

φέρω, ἤνεγκα (ἤνεγκον)

I bring, carry

2

    προφέρω

I bring forth, produce




Review

102

ἀγαθός, -ή, -όν

good

50

κακός, -ή, -όν

bad, evil (cacophony = a lot of noise/bad sounds)

2354

λἐγω, εἶπον

I speak, say, talk
Λέγω appears in the present tense 656 times in the Greek New Testament. That's more than any other ω conjugation verb.





Reading and Translation

1. Based on your knowledge of the words βασιλεία and βασιλεύς, guess at the meaning of the verb βασιλεύω in the following sentence.Ἀρχέλαος = Archelaus (a person's name).

The word Ἰουδαίας is feminine singular here. It is being used as the name of a geographical place: Judea. It does not mean "Jewish" in this context.

Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας

Archelaus is king of Judea (Matthew 2:22)
Archelaus rules Judea

2. Τότε παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίον πόλιν

Then the devil takes him to the holy city (Matthew 4:5)
Then the devil took him to the holy city [Historical Present]

3. [ἁμαρτολός = sinner]

ἐσθίει μετὰ τῶν ἁμρτωλῶν

He eats with the sinners (Mark 2:16)

4. [ὅτι = because, since; When used to introduce a question, ὅτι can be translated as " why?"]

ὅτι μετὰ τῶν. . . ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει;

Why does he eat with sinners? (Mark 2:16)

5. [ἡ χρεία = need]

ού χρείαν ἔχουσιν

They do not have need (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31)
They have no need

6. [ὁ ἰατρός = doctor; οἱ ὑγιαίοντες = those who are healthy]

ού χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ὑγιαίοντες ἰατροῦ

Those who are healthy do not have need of a doctor (Luke 5:31)
Those who are healthy have no need of a doctor
Those who are healthy do not need a doctor

7. [ἐπερωτάω = I ask. While this verb is spelled ἐπερωτάω in all lexica, you will never find it spelled exactly that way in any actual Greek text. Instead, you will find ἐπερωτῶ.

ἐπερώτησεν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἱησοῦς· τί σοι ὄνομά ἐστιν;
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" (Luke 8:30)

8. [ἔξειμι (ἐξ + εἰμί) = be right, lawful, necessary]

ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν

I ask you if it is right (Luke 6:9)
I ask you if it is lawful
I ask you if it is necessary

Notice that the only difference between the statement in number 8 and the question in number 9 is the question mark (;) at the end.

9. ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν;

I ask you, is it right? (Luke 6:9)
I ask you, is it lawful?
I ask you, is it necessary?

10. Based on your knowledge of the words ἀγαθός and ποιέω, guess the meaning of ἀγαθοποιῆσαι in the sentence below. If you don't recognize the ending -σαι review lesson 14 (Infinitives).

ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ ἀγαθοποιῆσαι

I ask you if it is right to do good on the Sabbath (Luke 6:9)

11. ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ κακοποιῆσαι

I ask you if it is right to do evil on the Sabbath 

12. ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ ψυχὴν σῶσαι

I ask you if it is right to save life on the Sabbath

13. ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ ἀπολέσαι

I ask you if it is right to destroy on the Sabbath.

14. ἐπερωτῶ ὑμᾶς εἰ ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ ἀγαθοποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι, ψυχὴν σῶσαι ἢ ἀπολέσαι;

I ask you, is it right to do good on the Sabbath or to do bad, to save life or to destroy it? (Luke 6:9)

15. [θησαυρός = treasure]

ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν

The good person, from the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good (Luke 6:45)
The good person produces what is good from the good treasure of his heart.

Thank You. You have completed the reading and translation exercise for this lesson. Now return to the vocabulary list and work on memorizing any words you still do not recognize. The vocabulary games and exercises below can help you with this task.

Vocabulary Practice

Flash Cards
Drag and Drop Game One
Drag and Drop Game Two
Practice Quiz


Topical Index

Greek Language and Linguistics Gateway

Page Design and Content by Micheal W. Palmer

Previous Lesson

Table of Contents

Next Lesson

Loading