Lesson 22: Verbs/Augment, Reduplication, Tense Suffixes


A. Augment

0335. In §317 the distinction between primary and secondary tenses was introduced: primary indicative tenses (the other moods are not involved) are present and future in time and employ primary personal endings; secondary indicative tenses refer to the past and employ secondary personal endings. A second inflectional variable marks secondary tenses in the indicative: augment.

335. Secondary tenses of the indicative receive an augment prefixed to the verb stem. Augment is of two types, syllabic and temporal.

336. Syllabic augment: Verbs beginning with a consonant prefix ε to the tense stem, e.g. ἐ-λάλησεν (Jn 8:12), ἔ-λεγον (Jn 8:19), ἐ-γένετο (Jn 1:3). The augment adds a syllable to the word, hence its name.

3360. Notes:

3360.1 Verbs beginning with ρ sometimes double the ρ when augmented, e.g. ῥίπτω (present), but ἔρριψα (aorist). For a full list of verbs with initial ρ, see §3430.1.

3360.2 Syllabic augment is occasionally made with η instead of ε, e.g. θέλω (present), ἤθελον (imperfect), ἠθέλησα (aorist).

↓ 3360.21 The original form of θέλω was ἐθέλω, hence its temporal (s. §337) augment ἠ-; ἠ- was retained after the spelling was simplified to θέλω. Δύναμαι and μέλλω also occasionally take augment with ἠ-. Bl-D §66(3).

337. Temporal augment: Verbs beginning with a short vowel lengthen the initial vowel to form the augment:

α = η
ε = η
o = ω

Examples: ἤκουσα (Jn 8:26) (for α-), ἠρνήσατο (Jn 1:20) (for ἐ­-), ὡμολόγησεν (Jn 1:20) (for ὁ-). Temporal augment allegedly gets its name from the increase in duration of the lengthened vowel.

3370. Notes:

3370.1 Initial ῐ and ῠ are of course merely lengthened to ῑ and ῡ without visible alteration: ἰσχύω (present), but ἴσχυσα (aorist); ὑψόω (present), but ὕψωσα (aorist).

3370.2 The first vowel of an initial diphthong is lengthened in accordance with the rules indicated in §337: αἰσχύνω, ᾐσχυνόμην (imperfect); αὐξάνω, ηὔξησα (aorist); οἰκοδομέω, ᾠκοδόμουν (imperfect). An iota regularly becomes subscript.

3370.3 Initial diphthongs, however, frequently go unaugmented: εὑρίσκω, εὕρισκον (imperfect), εὗρον (aorist). As one might expect under the circumstances, there is also variation in practice: εὔχομαι, imperfect εὐχόμην or ηὐχόμην. εἰ- is rarely augmented: εἴκω, εἶξα (aorist); οὐ- never is: (ἐξ)-ουθενέω, -ουθένησα.

3370.4 Verbs beginning with a long vowel do not, of course, show augment: ἥκω, ἧκον (imperfect), ἧξα (aorist).

           ↓ 3371. A few verbs beginning with a vowel augment in such a way as to indicate the presence at one time of an initial consonant now lost: ει- appears where η- is expected (an unusual form of temporal augment), or ε- is prefixed to a vowel stem (syllabic augment where temporal is expected). The following is a complete catalogue of verbs exhibiting such 'irregular' augment, as represented in Bauer (the hypothetical stem(s) is (are) indicated in parentheses; forms marked with τ are 'regular' and are included only for comparison).

Present Aorist Act. Aorist Pass.
ἕλκω (<*σέλκω, *σελκύω)
   imperf. εἷλκον
ἐάω (*σεϝ άω)
   imperf. εἴων
ὠθέω (* ϝ ωθέω)
   imperf. ὤθουν†
-ῶσα (-έωσα)
ἀν-οίγω (* ϝ οίγνυμι)
   imperf. ἤνοιγον
ἀν-έῳξα ἀνεῴχθην
συν-έπομαι (*σέπομαι)
   imperf. συν-ειπόμην
ἔχω (*σέχω, σχ-)
   imperf. εἶχον
ἐργάζομαι (* ϝεργάζομαι)
   imperf. ἠργαζόμην†
ἠργασάμνη† (εἰργασάμην)
(κατ-)άγνυμι (*ϝ άγνυμι) -έαξα -εάγην
αἱρέω (αἱρέω, ἑλ-) -εῖλον -ῃρέθην†
λέγω (λεγ-, ἐρ-, ῥη-, * ϝεπ-)
ὁράω (* ϝοράω, * ϝ ιδ-)
   imperf. ἑώρων
ἵστημι, (στη-, στα-)                             Pluperf. εἱστήκειν
                                    (for ἑ-σεστήκειν)
                                    (also ἱστήκειν†)

↓ 3372. Notes:

3372.1 Intervocalic ϝ and σ regularly disappeared, permitting syllabic augment ἐ- to contract with a following ε, ι (= ει), or to remain uncontracted before a long vowel (ω).

3372.2 The imperfect ἑώρων (from ὁράω) and the aorist ἀν-έῳξα (from ἀν-οίγω) appear to have double augment: ἐ­- plus temporal augment. It is assumed, however, that the augment of these verbs is ἠ- (cf. §3360.2), and that 'quantitative metathesis' (interchange of vowel quantity) has taken place: ἑώρων < *ἡόρων; ἀν-έῳξα < *ἀν-ήοιξα.

3372.3 For imperf. ἤνοιγον (from ἀν-οίγω ), s. §339.3. For ἐρρέθην (from λέγω [ῥη-), s. §3360.1. Ἀνοίγω sometimes has an aorist passive infinitive ἀνεῳχθῆναι, with misplaced (i.e. incorrect) augment. A future (κατ-)εἁξω from (κατ-)άγνυμι is augmented (wrongly). Because misunderstood, the augment has intruded, in these instances, into a primary tense and the infinitive. Cf. Bl-D §66(2).

↓ 3373. A few verbs appear to augment in a peculiar fashion:

3373.1 Αἴρω, aorist ἦρα, aorist passive ἤρθην. The verb stem is ἀρ-, supplemented in the present tense by ι̯ = άρι̯ > αίρ (§484.4 and Appendix III, Class III.4). The augment is regular from the standpoint of the verb stem. Cf. §3430.5.

3373.2 (* Υπ-)ισχνέομαι, aorist ὑπ-εσχόμην. The stems are ἱσχ- (supplemented in the present by νε = ίσχνε-; §485.3 and Appendix III, Class IV.3), and σχ- (aorist).

3373.3 Ἵστημι, aorist ἔστησα (or ἔστην), aorist passive ἐστάθην. The verb stems are στη- and στα-. The present stem is reduplicated: *σίστημι > ἵστημι (§345.2).

3373.4 -ῐημι, aorist -ῆκα, aorist passive -έθην. The verb stems are ἡ- and ἑ­-. The present stem is reduplicated: *σίστημι > ἵημι (§ 345.2) . The aorist passive tense stem in -έθην lacks augment.

3374. Unusual augment often means unusual reduplication: see §3430.4. 338. Augment of verbs compounded with preposition or adverb.

338.1 Verbs compounded with a preposition or adverb (prefixed to the verb) take augment between preposition or adverb and verb: ἀπο-στέλλω, ἀπέστειλα (aorist); κατα-βαίνω, κατέβαινον (imperfect); ὑπο-στρέφω, ὑπέστρεφον (imperfect); ἀπ-αγγέλλω, ἀπήγγελλον (imperfect); εὐ-αγγελίζω, εὐηγγέλισα (aorist).

338.2 Prepositions (except περί and πρό) drop their final vowel when followed by augment (ἀπέστειλα), if they have not already lost it before an initial stem vowel (ἀπαγγέλλω, ἀπήγγελλον) The preposition ἐκ will of course be affected by a following vowel: ἐκβάλλω, but ἐξέβαλλον (§921).

339. Absence and doubling of augment.

339.1 In the New Testament the pluperfect lacks augment as a rule, especially in compounds (Bl-D §66(1)). This is also often the case in hellenistic Greek generally.

339.2 Other than diphthongs, which often go unaugmented (§3370.3), augment is omitted only occasionally in verbs compounded with a preposition. See Bl-D §67(2) for a list.

339.3 Augment is occasionally doubled. The most notorious example is ἀν-οίγω, where the peculiar nature of the stem (-ϝοιγνυμι), plus the fact that the verb never appears without prepositional prefix (ἀν-), led to general confusion: ἀνοίγω, imperfect ἤνοιγον (preposition augmented; cf. §338.1; classical ἀνέῳγον); aorist active ἀνέῳξα (§3372.2), but also ἤνοιξα (preposition augmented) and ἠνέῳξα (both augmented); aorist passive ἀνεῴχθην, but also ἠνοίχθην (ἠνοίγην) (preposition augmented) and ἠνεῴχθην (both augmented). For the few other examples, see Moulton-Howard II: 189.

340. Summary.

340.1 Augment indicates that the verb form in question refers to past time and it thus signals a basic contrast between secondary (except for the pluperfect, which often omits augment) and primary tenses in the indicative. An augmented verb will then be either imperfect or aorist indicative (or pluperfect on occasion).

340.2 Since augment is employed only with secondary tenses of the indicative, it will never appear with non-indicative moods (subjunctive, optative, infinitive, and participle), even of the secondary tenses. It thus also signals that the verb in question is indicative.

340.3 Given a common verb like γράφω, the secondary tense forms will be readily distinguishable from the primary tense forms by virtue of the augment: ἔγραφον (imperf.), ἐγράψατε (aorist act.), ἐγράφη (aorist pass.), but γράφω (present), γράψω (future). In verbs beginning with a vowel or diphthong, a preposition or an adverb, secondary tenses are less readily identified apart from attention to the personal endings. The imperfect ἦγον contrasts with the present ἄγω in two respects: augment (α > η) and personal endings, whereas the imperfect εὕρισκον contrasts with the present εὑρίσκω only with respect to endings, since εὑ- is left unaugmented. The beginner might fail to notice the augment sandwiched between preposition and verb in κατέλαβον, but the secondary ending will help call it to attention.

It will not be possible, however, to distinguish between present subjunctive γράφωμεν and aorist subjunctive γράψωμεν on the basis of augment (there being none in either case), or even to identify γράψωμεν as aorist. The same applies to the optative and imperative moods, the infinitive, and the participle, e.g. γράφειν (present inf.), γράψαι (aorist inf.), γράψον (aorist impera.).

3400. Personal endings and augment are inflectional variables that signal person, number, voice and the distinction between primary and secondary tenses (personal endings also obliquely touch the identification of the moods [§3170], the augment only negatively, i.e. an augmented form will be indicative). The ability to discriminate more finely depends upon knowledge of tense formatives (prefixes and suffixes), tense base, and mood sign. However, the next inflectional variable to be considered is the reduplicated prefix, which is commonly associated with the perfect system.

B. Reduplication

341. The perfect system (perfect, pluperfect, future perfect, i.e. everything appearing under principal parts four and five in the graph, §303) is marked by reduplication. Reduplication is the doubling of the initial consonant or syllable of the verb stem, e.g. πιστευ-/πεπιστευ-. Reduplicated stems appear in the present and aorist tenses also, but generally speaking reduplication signals a form in the perfect system.

3410. Reduplication was probably employed originally to express iterative or intensive action (cf. διδάσκω, I teach, where reduplication belongs to the verb stem as such). It later came to be associated with completed action and so is employed as a tense-aspect formant of the perfect system.

342. There are three types of reduplication and one substitute for reduplication: 1) reduplication of an initial consonant with ε; 2) reduplication of an initial consonant with ι; 3) reduplication of an initial syllable; 4) reduplication that takes the same form as augment (§§0335-3400). Type 2) is confined to the present tense and appears in only a few verbs (to be noted subsequently). Type 3) is rare in any case, but appears in both the aorist and perfect. Types 1) and 4) are characteristic of the perfect.

343. Reduplication by doubling an initial consonant with ε, and by augment.

343.1 A single initial consonant is doubled with ε to form a prefixed syllable:

πιστεύω, I believe   πεπίστευκα πεπίστευμαι         
ποιέω, I do, make   πεποίηκα πεποίημαι
λαλέω, I say, speak   λελάληκα λελάλημαι

343.2 An initial consonant (always a stop) followed by λ or ρ is also doubled with ε:

γράφω, I write           γέγραφα γέγραμμαι        
κρίνω, I judge   κέκρικα κέκριμαι
πληρόω, I fill   πεπλήρωκα πεπλήρωμαι

343.3 If the stop to be doubled is aspirated (pronounced with a strong emission of breath), the corresponding smooth stop (aspiration absent) is employed in forming the reduplicated syllable: τ for θ, π for φ, κ for χ (the reason being that one would begin to lisp if not to list had he to pronounce θεθ- or φεφ- very often):

φανερόω, I show   πεφανέρωκα πεφανέρωμαι        
θεάομαι, I see     τεθέαμαι
χράομαι, I make use of     κέχραμαι

343.4 If, however, the verb stem begins with a double consonant (ζ, ξ, ψ) , or with two (three) consonants other than a stop with λ or ρ, or with a vowel, the stem is augmented for reduplication, in accordance with the rules set out in §§336ff.

ἀγαπάω, I love                      ἠγάπηκα                  ἠγάπημαι                          
ἐλπίζω, I hope   ἤλπικα
εὐλογέω, I praise   εὐλόγηκα εὐλόγημαι
ξηραίνω, I dry up     ἐξήραμμαι
(ἀπο)-στέλλω, I send away   -έσταλκα -έσταλμαι

3430. Notes:

3430.1 Initial ρ is sometimes reduplicated in accordance with §343.1, i.e. ρερ-, sometimes augmented (for reduplication) as indicated in §3360.1, i.e. ἐ­(ρ)ρ-. A full list of verbs with initial ρ showing augment or reduplication is appended. Cf. Bl-D §11(1).

Present                Aorist act. -mid.      Perfect act./ midd.-pass. Aorist pass.                          
ῥύομαι ἐ(ρ)ρυσάμην   ἐ(ρ)ρύσθην
ῥᾳθυμέω ἐρᾳσθύμησα
ῥιζόω -ερίζωσα ἐρριζομένος --εριζώθην
ῥίπτω ἔ(ρ)ριψα ἐ(ρ)ριμμένος -ε(ρ)ρίθην
  Imperf. ἐ(ρ)ρίπτουν
ῥαβδίζω     ἐραβδίσθην
ῥαντίζω ἐράντισα ῥεραντισμένος
ῥαπίζω ἐράπισα
ῥαίνω ἔρρανα --ρεραμμένος
ῥυπαίνω     ἐ(ρ)ρυπάνθην
ῥήγνυμι ἔ(ρ)ρηξα -έρρηγα -ε(ρ)ράγη
ῥωννυμι   ἔρρωμαι
[εἴρω] (λέγω) εἶπον εἴρηκα, εἴρηται ἐρρέθην

3430.2 There are some exceptions to the rules formulated in §§343.2, 343.4, i.e. stop + λ (ρ), double initial consonant with ε; otherwise augment:

μνηστεύω ἐμνηστευμένην,
but μεμνηστευμένη also appears
κτάομαι κέκτημαι
πίπτω (stem: πτω-) πέπτωκα
βδελύσσομαι ἐβδελυγμένος
κάμνω (stem: κμη-) κέκμηκα
τέμνω (stem: τμη-) -τέτμηκα / -τετμημένος
θνῄσκω τέθνηκα
μιμνῄσκω (stem: μνη-) μέμνημαι

3430.3 A cluster of three consonants, even where the last two are stop plus λ or ρ, is augmented for reduplication:

σφραγίζω ἐσφραγισμένος
στρωνύω ἐστρωμένος

3430.4 A few verbs show an odd form of augment for reduplication:

   Base    Perfect                                  
ἐθίζω εἰτισμένος
εἶπον (aorist) εἴρηκα
ἑλκόω εἱλκωμένος
ἐργάζομαι εἰργασμένος
-ίημι -έωνται
ἵστημι ἕστηκα / -εσταμένος
λαμβάνω (stem: λαβ-, ληβ-) εἴληφα
ὁράω ἑόρακα    ἑώρακα

Most of these forms are to be accounted for by the original presence of an initial consonant now lost, e.g. εἰργασμένος < ἐϝεργάζομαι: the ϝ was lost and ε-ε contracted to εἰ-. Ἕστηκα derives from *σέστηκα: initial sigma was lost and rough breathing introduced to mark the loss (Smyth §119; cf. ἵστημι [present base] for *σίστημι). Cf. §§3371f. for the augment of these and similar verbs.

3430.5 What appears to be an odd form of augment for reduplication in some verbs owes to the formation of the present tense stem, e.g. αἰρω, aorist ἦρα, perfect ἦρκα/ἤρμαι: stem ἀρ-, in present tense supplemented by ι̯ = ἀρι̯ < αἰρ- (§484.4 and Appendix III, Class III.4); the aorist and perfect forms are thus 'regular' when regarded from the standpoint of the verb base rather than the present base.

344. Reduplication by doubling an initial syllable. Some verbs reduplicate by doubling an initial syllable (α, ε, ο plus a single consonant) and lengthening the second vowel (α, ε < η, ο < ω):

ἀκούω ἀκήκοα (> ακ-ακο-)
ἐγείρω (stem: ἐγερ-) ἐγήγερμαι (> εγ-εγερ-)
ἐλαύνω (stem: ἐλα-) ἐλήλακα (> ελ-ελα-)
ἔρχομαι (aorist: ἦλθον, stem: ἐλυθ-) ἐλήλυθα (> ελ-ελυθ-)
ὄλλυμι (stem: ὀλε-) -ολώλεκα (> ολ-ολε-)
φέρω (aorist, perfect stem: ενενεκ-) ἐνήνοχα (> εν-ενοχ-)

This form is called 'Attic' reduplication.

3440. Notes:

3440.1 Ἔρχομαι and φέρω are 'irregular' verbs, i.e. they employ more than one root in the constitution of a single set of principal parts (§487).

3440.2 φέρω has a reduplicated aorist (§§345.1, 487.10): ἤνεγκα (> εν-ενεκ > εν-ενκ [loss of vowel, called syncope, Smyth §44] > ενεγκ- [assimilation, §929.2J). The aorist and perfect must therefore be distinguished on the basis of stem: ἐνεγκ-/ἐνηνοχ-.

↓ 345. Reduplication in tense systems other than the perfect.

345.1 Aorist system. Two verbs show a reduplicated aorist (active) stem, in both cases by doubling the initial syllable:

ἄγω ἤγαγον (< αγ-αγ)
φέρω ἤνεγκα (s. §3440.2)

345.2 Present system. A larger number of verbs have reduplicated present bases. Reduplication in the present consists of doubling the initial consonant with ι. The aorist stem is given in the tables below so that the unreduplicated base may be observed.

a) Reduplicated -σκω verbs (Appendix III, Class V.3). The present base = the reduplicated verb base, supplemented by -σκω:

Present Aorist
βιβρώσκω ἐβρώθην (passive)
γινώσκω (for classical γιγνώσκω) ἔγνων
-διδράσκω -έδραν
μιμνῄσκομαι -έμνησα
πιπράσκω ἐπράθην (passive)
τιτρώσκω -έτρωσα

b) Reduplicated μι-verbs (Appendix III, Class I.7b).

Present Aorist
δίδωμι (stems δω-, δο-) ἔδωκα
-ίημι (> *σι-σημι, stems ἡ-, ἑ­-) -ῆκα
ἵστημι (> *σι-στημι, stems στη-, στα-) ἕστησα
κίχρημαι (stem χρη-) ἔχρησα
ὀνίνημι (> *ὀν-ονημι, stems ὀνη-, ὀνα-) ὀνάμην
πίμπλημι (> *πι-πλημι, stems πλη-, πλα-) ἔπλησα
πίμπρημι (> *πι-πρημι, stems πρη-, πρα-) ἔπρησα
τίθημι (> *θι-θημι, stems θη-, θε-) ἔθηκα

c) Reduplicated regular ω-verbs (Appendix III, Class I.7a)

Present Aorist                                                   
γίνομαι (for classical γίγομαι stems γν-, γεν-, γον-, γενε-) ἐγενόμην
πίπτω (stems πτ-, πετ-, πτω-) ἔπεσον
τίκτω (> *τι-τεκω, stem τεκ-) ἔτεκον

↓ 3450. Notes:

3450.1 Τίκτω derives from *τιτκ- by metathesis (interchange of consonants).

3450.2 Ὀνίνημι by rights is a doubling of the initial syllable (ον-ον-), but the second vowel is ι in conformity with reduplication in the present system; the initial ο appears therefore to have been ignored and the ν reduplicated with ι.

3450.3 Πίμπλημι and πίμπρημι develop a nasal, μ, after the reduplicated syllable; this μ is sometimes omitted when the verbs are compounded with ἐν (ἐμ-πί(μ)πλημι, ἐμ-πί(μ)πρημι) : dissimilation (Smyth §129).

C. Tense Suffixes

0346.1 Most native speakers of English manage a very complex verb system with only an occasional slip. The reason they are able to do so is that the English verb is inflected largely in accordance with regular patterns which can be generalized (consciously or unconsciously) and then applied by analogy to other verbs. The child learns early in the game for example, that the past tense of the English verb is often formed by adding -ed to the present tense: I walk / I walked. This pattern is applied, often with amusing results, to other verbs: you hurt me / you hurted me; I eat this / I eated this. What has not yet been mastered, of course, are the exceptions to the so-called 'weak' patterning of the verb.

0346.2 In gaining effective control over the verb system two things are thus necessary: 1) familiarity with the regular pattern; 2) explicit knowledge of the exceptions. The former constitutes an open class of verbs, i.e. it comprises the largest group of verbs and so cannot be learned as a list of individual items; the second constitutes a closed class and so must be learned as individual items, or groups of items. Non-regular (i.e. not conforming to the 'weak' pattern) verbs tend to fall into subgroups which follow identical or comparable patterns; they can therefore be divided into more or less distinct classes and learned as subgroups. A few verbs are inflected so irregularly as to defy grouping; the term 'irregular' is reserved in this grammar for this very small class of verbs.

The Regular Verb

346.1 Just as the speaker of English learns that -ed forms the past tense of most English verbs, so the speaker or writer of Greek learned that -σα formed the past tense of a large class of verbs in Greek. Taking the 'regular' verb πιστεύω, I believe, as model, the past tense of the indicative (normally = aorist rather than imperfect) is formed by prefixing ἐ- (augment, added to all secondary tenses in the indicative) to the present base, and suffixing -σα: πιστεύω/ἐπίστευσα, Ι believed. This pattern may be applied to many other verbs whose stems end in a vowel:

ἀκούω, I hear / ἤκουσα, I heard
κωλύω, I hinder / ἐκώλυσα, I hindered
παύω, I stop / ἔπαυσα, I stopped

The first person singular aorist active indicative serves as the third principal part of the Greek verb (§§302.2, 303).

346.2 The second principal part is the first person singular future active indicative. It is formed regularly by inserting σ between the verb stem and personal ending as they are found in the present tense: πιστεύω, I believe / πιστεύσω, I will believe.

ἀκούω / ἀκούσω, I will hear
παύω / παύσω, I will stop

From these few examples it can be learned that -σ- is regularly the tense sign (tense suffix) of the future, and -σα the tense sign (suffix) of the regular or 'weak' aorist (first aorist, as it is called).

346.3 The fourth principal part is the first person singular perfect active indicative, the fifth the first person singular perfect middle-passive indicative. These principal parts are formed by reduplicating the present base (§§341-3450) and adding the tense suffix -κα to form the regular or 'weak' perfect active (first perfect; cf. first aorist): πιστεύω / πεπίστευκα, I have believed. The perfect middle-passive is formed by adding primary middle-passive endings directly to the perfect base: πεπίστευμαι, I have been believed.

The tense sign or suffix of the first perfect active is thus -κα, while the perfect middle-passive has none (the reduplicated stem indicates, of course, that the form is perfect, the endings that the voice is middle-passive).

346.4 The tense sign of the regular or 'weak' aorist passive (the sixth principal part) is -θη-. Starting out again from πιστεύω, the stem is first augmented (ἐ-πιστευ-), and the tense sign then suffixed: ἐπιστευθη-. The secondary ending is -ν (§319): ἐπιστεύθην, I was believed.

347. Tense suffixes of the regular verb.

347.1 The tense suffixes together with the first person singular endings may be represented schematically (as the six principal parts).

Present Future Aorist
πιστεύω -σω -σα -κα -μαι -θην

347.2 It should be kept in mind that the aorist forms will be augmented, the perfect bases reduplicated. These may be added to the schematic representation:

Present Future Aorist
πιστεύω -σω ἐ­- - - -σα πε- - - -κα πε- - -μαι ἐ­- - - -θην

347.3 Since few verbs exhibit a full complement of tenses, further illustrations may be drawn from the principal parts of regular verbs in actual use, as represented in Bauer:

Present Future Aorist
δουλεύω δουλεύσω ἐδούλευσα δεδούλευκα    
  I serve
ἰσχύω ἰσχύσω ἴσχυσα     ἰσχύθην
  I am strong
λύω λύσω ἔλυσα   λέλυμαι ἐλύθην
  I loose
παίω   ἔπαισα      
  I strike

For a complete list see Appendix III, Class I.1a.

The 'Strong' Verb

348. Some English verbs form their past tense by a change in the stem vowel (called ablaut): sing / sang; drive / drove; know / knew. These verbs are traditionally called 'strong' verbs. Greek also has 'strong' verbs in this sense: λείπω, I leave, forms an aorist ἔλιπον, I left, and a perfect active, λέλοιπα; the perfect middle reverts to the stem vowel of the present tense: λέλειμμαι (the final π of the stem is assimilated to the μ of the ending -μαι). φεύγω, I flee, similarly, has an aorist, ἔφυγον (stem vowel is shortened); the perfect active, however, reverts to the stem vowel of the present: πέφυγα. Πειθω, I persuade, retains the present stem vowel in the aorist, ἔπεισα, but modifies it in the perfect active: πέποιθα. There are relatively few verbs showing vowel graduation in Greek, but, unfortunately, some of those that do are of relatively high frequency.

349. There is a second sense in which Greek has a 'strong' verb: three principal parts exhibit alternative modes of formation, and these modes are known as 'strong' formations, by comparison with the 'regular' or 'weak' formations. The 'regular' tense suffixes -σα, -κα, and -θην (aorist active/middle, perfect active, and aorist passive, respectively) may be replaced by "strong" forms.

349.1 Some verbs exhibit no tense suffix for the aorist active/middle (third principal part): ἔλιπον, ἔφυγον. These are called 'second' or 'strong' aorists. They are indistinguishable from the imperfect except for stem: ἔλειπον / ἔλιπον; ἔφευγον / ἔφυγον. The second or strong aorist (active/middle) will therefore always show a verb base modified in some respect by comparison with the present base (on which the imperfect is formed). Just as one must learn that sang is the past of sing, so one must become acquainted with the tense stems of verbs showing a second or strong aorist.

349.2 The regular suffix -κα of the perfect active is sometimes simplified to -α: λείπω / λέλοιπα; γράφω / γέγραφα. The forms without -κ- are again known as "second" or "strong" perfects. As γράφω / γέγραφα indicates, however, the 'strong' perfect does not necessarily involve a modification of the present base (contrast λείπω / λέλοιπα).

349.3 The regular suffix -θην of the aorist passive is sometimes simplified to -ην: τρέπω / ἐτράπην; γράφω / ἐγράφην. The forms without -θ- are once again called 'second' or 'strong' aorists passive. As in the case with the perfect active, the 'strong' aorist passive does not necessarily involve a modification of the present base (γράφω / ἐγράφην; but contrast τρέπω / ἐτράπην).

350. The alternative ways of forming the third (aorist active/middle), fourth (perfect active), and sixth (aorist passive) principal parts, as indicated in §349, never, in the verbs represented in Bauer, converge in one verb, i.e. there is no example of a consistently 'strong' verb in Greek (in this second sense). And only nine verbs in Bauer exhibit two 'strong' principal parts. A much larger number show one 'strong' principal part. The 'strong' formations should therefore be regarded as alternative ways of forming particular tense stems, and not as characteristic of the full paradigm of any one verb. With this qualification in mind, the alternative formations may be joined to the schematic representation of the 'regular' verb (πε- represents any reduplicated syllable):

Present Future Aorist
(active / middle)
-σω ἐ­- - - -σα πε- - - -κα πε- - - -μαι ἐ­- - - -θην
    ἐ­- - - -ον πε- - - -α ἐ- - - -ην

3500. Remarks.

3500.1 The 'strong' verb in the sense of a modification of the stem vowel in the formation of principal parts (§348) will be taken up in connection with the patterns of forming the tense bases from the verb base (§§489, 907-911).

3500.2 The composite schema given in §350 covers the vast majority of Greek verbs. The rare aberrations of these patterns will be noted in conjunction with the inflection of the various tenses.

3500.3 The table in §350 does not cover the imperfect (built on the first principal part), the pluperfect (built on the fourth and fifth principal parts), the future passive (built on the sixth principal part), or the rare future perfect (built on the fifth principal part). These forms are best considered in conjunction with the inflection of the tenses also.