Lesson 26: Verbs/Indicative Mood, Secondary Tenses


B. Conjugation of the Secondary Tenses

0400. In §§365-395 (Lessons 24-25), the form-sets comprising the primary tenses (present, future, perfect) in the indicative mood were considered. In §§0400-4241 (Lessons 26-27), the corresponding form-sets for the secondary tenses (imperfect, aorist, pluperfect) are to be elaborated.

1. The Imperfect Indicative

400. As in the present indicative (§366), verbs are conjugated in three ways in the imperfect indicative: (1) ω-verbs un-contracted, (2) ω-verbs contracted, and (3) μι-verbs. Since the present and imperfect form a tense system (§303), the parallel formation of form-sets is to be expected. Differences in inflectional pattern, in the imperfect as in the present, carry no grammatical significance.

4000. The two sub-sets of ω-verbs, in the imperfect as in the present, are conjugated alike, except for contraction. The conjugation of μι-verbs differs from that of ω-verbs in three particulars: (1) μι-verbs in the imperfect, as elsewhere, are conjugated without thematic vowel (§§3661f.), whereas ω-verbs are conjugated with thematic vowel. (2) The act. 3. pl. personal ending for μι-verbs is -σαν (the second alternative in §319); for ω-verbs it is -ν. The act. 1. sg. and 3. pl. of ω-verbs will thus be identical (-ν, -ν), while the two forms are distinguished in μι-verbs (-ν, -σαν). (3) The 2. sg. mid.-pass, personal ending (-σο) in ω-verbs contracts: ἐλύου < ἐλυεσο (the σ disappears and the vowels contract, §3190.5; cf. the primary 2. sg. mid.-pass. ending -σαι, §§3180.5, 370.2); in μι-verbs the uncontracted form is retained. With §4000 as a whole cf. §3660.

401. ω-verbs uncontracted. The present base is augmented (§§0335-3400), and theme vowel ο/ε and secondary personal endings (the first alternatives given in §319) suffixed, to form the imperfect indicative, e.g. ἐ­-πιστευ-ο-ν. The contrast between active and middle-passive voices produces two sub-sets:

  Active Middle-Passive                       
Sg. 1.    ἐπίστευον ἐπιστευόμην
2.    ἐπίστευες ἐπιστεύου
3.    ἐπίστευε (ν) ἐπιστεύετο
Pl. 1.    ἐπιστεύομεν ἐπιστευόμεθα
2.    ἐπιστεύετε ἐπιστεύεσθε
3.    ἐπίστευον ἐπιστεύοντο

4010. Notes:

4010.1 The 1. sg. and 3. pl. act. are identical in form.

4010.2 The 2. sg. mid.-pass, ending -ου constitutes the only aberration in the use of regular secondary endings (§319).

402. Ω-verbs contracted. Since the imperfect tense is built on the present base, verbs whose present bases end in short final vowels (α, ε, ο) will contract in the imperfect as in the present tense (§§368-369). There will be three form-sets, as in the present, corresponding to the three final vowels. The paradigm of the uncontracted ω-verb (§401) may be set alongside the contracted forms for comparison.

  Sg. 1.    ἐπίστευον
  2.    ἐπίστευες
  3.    ἐπίστευε (ν)
  PI. 1.    ἐπιστεύομεν
  2.    ἐπιστεύετε
  3.    ἐπίστευον
Sg. 1.    ἠγάπων (α+ο) ἐποίουν (ε+ο) ἐπλήρουν (ο+ο)
2.    ἠγάπας (α+ε) ἐποίεις (ε+ε) ἐπλήρους (ο+ε)
3.    ἠγάπα (α+ε) ἐποίει (ε+ε) ἐπλήρου (ο+ε)
Pl. 1.    ἠγαπῶμεν (α+ο) ἐποιοῦμεν (ε+ο) ἐπληροῦμεν (ο+ο)
2.    ἠγαπᾶτε (α+ε) ἐποιεῖτε (ε+ε) ἐπληροῦτε (ο+ε)
3.    ἠγάπων (α+ο) ἐποίουν (ε+ο) ἐπλήρουν (ο+ο)
  Sg. 1.    ἐπιστευόμην
  2.    ἐπιστεύου
  3.    ἐπιστεύετο
  Pl. 1.    ἐπιστευόμεθα
  2.    ἐπιστεύεσθε
  3.    ἐπιστεύοντο
Sg. 1.    ἠγαπώμην (α+ο) ἐποιούμην (ε+ο) ἐπληρούμην (ο+ο)
2.    ἠγαπῶ (α+ου) ἐποιοῦ (ο+ου) ἐπληροῦ (ο+ου)
3.    ἠγαπᾶτο (α+ε) ἐποιεῖτο (ε+ε) ἐπληροῦτο (ο+ε)
Pl. 1.    ἠγαπώμεθα (α+ο) ἐποιούμεθα (ε +ο) ἐπληρούμεθα (ο+ο)
2.    ἠγαπᾶσθε (α+ε) ἐποιεῖσθε (ε+ε) ἐπληροῦσθε (ο+ε)
3.    ἠγαπῶντο (α+ο) ἐποιοῦντο (ε+ο) ἐπληροῦντο (ο+ο)

4020. Notes:

4020.1 The 1. sg. and 3. pl. act. are identical in form.

4020.2 The 2. sg. mid.-pass, is again the result of contraction (§§4000, 4010.2): α, ε, ο + εσο = α, ε, ο + ου = -ω, -ου, -ου.

4021. Mnemonic hints:

4021.1 The contractions in -όω verbs yield ου throughout.

4021.2 The contractions in -άω verbs yield ω or α, those in -έω verbs ου or ει.

403. The rules of contraction for the imperfect form-sets are the same as those for the present (§369, cf. §917):

403.1 Like vowels produce a common long vowel (or diphthong):

  ε + ε = ει ο + ο = ου
    ο + ου = ου           

403.2 When unlike vowels contract, ο or ω prevails over other vowels:

  α + ο = ω ε + ο = ου ο + ε = ου
  α + ου = ω ε + ου = ου

403.3 α prevails when it precedes ε or η:

  α + ε = α
  α + η = α  

403.4 Iota is always retained. (No examples)

        ↓ 4030. A few verbs with present bases in -έω show uncontracted forms in the imperfect, as in the present (§3690). The imperfect indicative form-set may be a mixture of contracted and uncontracted forms. None of the verbs involved (δέομαι, δεῖ, ζέω, πλέω, πνέω, ῥέω, -χέω) exhibits a complete form-set in New Testament Greek. Cf. Mou1ton-Howard:193-201.

↓        4031. There are two contract verbs with possible long final vowel in the imperfect, as in the present (§3691): ζήομαι, χρήομαι. The imperfect of ζήω, live, is apparently ἔζων, ἔζης, ἔζη, ἐζῶμεν, ἐζῆτε, ἔζων. Only I. sg. and 2. pl. are attested in the New Testament. There is no middle-passive. The imperfect of χρήομαι, use , is apparently ἐχρώμην, ἐχρῶ, ἐχρᾶτο, ἐχρώμεθα, ἐχρᾶσθε, ἐχρῶντο, in which case the form-set has been assimilated to that of verbs in -άω (the paradigm was somewhat different in classical Greek). Only the 3. pl. is attested in the New Testament. Bauer enters the two verbs as [ζάω] and χράομαι.

404. Athematic conjugation. The athematic or μι-conjugation is not well represented in the imperfect. Many particular forms are unattested in the literature covered by Bauer, and there is a general tendency for μι-verbs to pass over to the ω-conjugation (cf. §3701.2). Nevertheless, it is necessary to observe the shape of the form-sets in order to be able to cope with forms that do occur. A few generalizations may be made with respect to the group as a whole:

404.1 In athematic conjugations the personal endings are attached directly to the tense base (without thematic vowel).

404.2 The tense base of the imperfect is, of course, the present base plus augment, e.g. τιθη- / ἐτιθη-, δεικνυ- / ἐδεικνυ-.

404.3 The personal endings employed with μι-verbs in the imperfect are the secondary endings found on ω-verbs (§401), except that the 3. pl. act. -ν is replaced by -σαν , and the 2. sg. mid.-pass, -σο is left uncontracted (§4000).

404.4 The same observation regarding the final stem vowel in the present tense (§370.3) applies to the imperfect as well: the long vowel occurs in the act. sing., the short vowel elsewhere (act. plur. and mid.-pass, forms). The long/short variation is illustrated by ἱστη-/ἱστα-, ἐτιθη-/ἐτιθε-.

4040. Paradigms for athematic (μι) conjugation in the imperfect tense.

Sg. 1.    ἵστην ἐτίθην ἐδίδουν ἔδεικνυν                       
2.    ἵστης ἐτίθεις ἐδίδους ἔδεικνυς
3.    ἵστη ἐτίθει ἐδίδου ἔδεικνυ
Pl. 1.    ἵσταμεν ἐτίθεμεν ἐδίδομεν ἐδείκνυμεν
2.    ἵστατε ἐτίθετε ἐδίδοτε ἐδείκνυτε
3.    ἵστασαν ἐτίθεσαν ἐδίδοσαν ἐδείκνυσαν
Sg. 1.    ἱστάμην ἐτιθέμην ἐδιδόμην ἐδεικνύμην                       
2.    ἵστασο ἐτίθεσο ἐδίδοσο ἐδείκνυσο
3.    ἵστατο ἐτίθετο ἐδίδοτο ἐδείκνυτο
Pl. 1.    ἱστάμεθα ἐτιθέμεθα ἐδιδόμεθα ἐδεικνύμεθα
2.    ἵστασθε ἐτίθεσθε ἐδίδοσθε ἐδείκνυσθε
3.    ἵσταντο ἐτίθεντο ἐδίδοντο ἐδείκνυντο

4041. Notes:

4041.1 Only a few of these forms are attested in the New Testament, principally the 3. sg. and pl. of both voices.

4041.2 The forms ἐτίθεις, ἐτίθει, ἐδίδουν, ἐδίδους, ἐδίδου (underlined in the paradigms) represent the transition to the ω-conjugation, i.e. they reflect the contraction of stem and thematic vowel (ἐτίθεις < ἐτιθε-ες; ἐδίδουν < ἐδιδο-ον).

4041.3 The imperfect act. 2. sg., 1. pl. and 2. pl. of ἵστημι are identical in form with the corresponding present forms, owing to the fact that the augment is not visible. The same observation applies to the 1. and 2. pl. mid. -pass, forms. For the augment of ἵστημι s. §3370.1.

405. The common verb εἰμί, I am, is also irregular in the imperfect tense (present tense: §371).

Sg. 1. ἤμην Pl. 1. ἦμεν, ἤμεθα
2. ἦς, ἦσθα 2. ἦτε
3. ἦν 3. ἦσαν

4050. Notes:

4050.1 ἦσθα exhibits an old 2. sg. personal ending -σθα (§3190.2) .

4050.2 The paradigm shows vacillation between act. (-ς. -ν, -μεν, -τε, -σαν) and mid. -pass, (-μην, -μεθα) endings.

4050.3 The long stem vowel η occurs throughout (contrast §404.4) .

4050.4 Because of its high frequency and modest irregularities, this conjugation must be committed carefully to memory.

2. The Aorist Active and Middle

0406. The aorist active and middle form two sub-sets built on the third principal part (§303) , and so shall be considered together. The aorist passive represents a discrete form-set built on the sixth principal part, and so may be reserved for subsequent consideration.

406. First and second aorist. The tense base (third principal part) of the aorist active and middle is formed, in general, in one of two ways: (1) the 'first' or 'weak' aorist is formed by augmenting the verb base and suffixing the tense formative -σα, e.g. πιστευ- / ἐπίστευσα (§§346.1, 347). (2) The 'second' or 'strong' aorist is formed by some modification of the verb base (as contrasted with the present base), augment, and thematic vowel plus secondary endings (§349 and 349.1). The 'first' aorist is usually readily distinguishable because of its tense formative. The 'second' aorist will look, except for stem, like the imperfect.

407. Second aorist active and middle. The form-sets for the second aorist active and middle, except for stem, are identical with the imperfect indicative of uncontracted ω-verbs (augmented stem, thematic vowel ο/ε, plus secondary endings):

λείπω, I leave, second aorist ἔλιπον
  Active Middle
Sg. 1. ἔλιπον ἐλιπόμην
2. ἔλιπες ἐλίπου (<-εσο)
3. ἔλιπε (ν) ἐλίπετο
Pl. 1. ἐλίπομεν ἐλιπόμεθα
2. ἐλίπετε ἐλίπεσθε
3. ἔλιπον ἐλίποντο

Cf. The imperfect form-sets of ἐπίστευον in §401, and the remarks in §4010.

4070. In order to maintain the contrast between aorist and imperfect indicative, the second or strong aorist will therefore always show a verb base modified in some respect by comparison with the present base on which the imperfect is built. Conversely, the first or weak aorist need not, but may, have a modified aorist base. The second aorist active/middle will thus contrast with an imperfect indicative of the verb in question and not with the imperfect generally, while the first aorist will contrast with the imperfect generally (i.e. with respect to tense formative). It is necessary, as a consequence, to pay special attention to the first and third principal parts of verbs showing second or strong aorists.

The following is a full list of verbs showing a second aorist derived from Appendix III (Bauer):

     Present Imperfect Second (Strong) Aorist
I.3a        λείπω -έλειπον ἔλιπον
I.3b        ἄγω ἤγον ἤγαγον
  →ἔχω εἴχον ἔσχον
     φεύγω   ἔφυγον
I.7a     →γίνομαι ἐγινόμην ἐγενόμην
     πίπτω ἔπιπτον ἔπεσον
     τίκτω   ἔτεκον
III.3         ἄλλομαι   ἠλόμην
     βάλλω -έβαλλον ἔβαλον
     θάλλω   -έθαλον
IV.1         κάμνω   ἔκαμον
     τέμνω   -έτεμον
IV. 2         αἰσθάνομαι   ᾐσθόμην
     ἁμαρτάνω   ἥμαρτον (ἡμάρτησα)
     θιγγάνω   ἔθιγον
     λαγχάνω   ἔλαχον
  →λαμβάνω ἐλάμβανον ἔλαβον
     λανθάνω   ἔλαθον
     μανθάνω   ἔμαθον
     πυνθάνομαι ἐπυνθανόμην ἐπυθόμην
     τυγχάνω   ἔτυχον
IV. 3       -ικνέομαι   -ικόμην
     -ισχνέομαι   -ικόμην
     ισχνέομαι   -εσχόμην
V.          θνῄσκω -έθνησκον -έθανον
     εὑρίσκω ηὕρισκον εὗρον (-εῦρα1)
     -διδράσκω   -έδραν1
VI.        αἱρέω -ῃρούμην -εῖλον
  →λέγω ἔλεγον εἶπον
  →ἔρχομαι ἠρχόμην ἦλθον (ἦλθα1)
     ἐσθίω ἤσθιον ἔφαγον
  →ὁράω ἑώρων εἶδον (ὠψάμην)
     πάσχω   ἔπαθον
     πίνω ἔπινον ἔπιον
     τρέχω ἔτρεχον ἔδραμον

→indicates that the verb appears in the New Testament 200 times or more.

1These forms reflect the intrusion of weak aorist endings into the second aorist (§4122).

Roman numerals in the left hand margin refer to the divisions of Appendix III.

Thirty-three verbs out of a total of 844 represented in Bauer thus exhibit a second or strong aorist.

408. First aorist active and middle. The first or weak aorist is formed by augmenting the aorist base and adding the tense formative σα plus secondary endings. The contrast between active and middle voices again yield two sub-sets:

                πιστεύω, ἐπίστευσα
  Active Middle
Sg. 1.    ἐπίστευσα ἐπιστευσάμην
2.    ἐπίστευσας ἐπιστεύσω (<-ασο)
3.    ἐπίστευσε (ν) ἐπιστεύσατο
Pl. 1.    ἐπιστεύσαμεν ἐπιστευσάμεθα
2.    ἐπιστεύσατε ἐπιστεύσασθε
3.    ἐπίστευσαν ἐπιστεύσαντο

4080. Notes:

4080.1 The first singular active shows the zero form (#), §319.

4080.2 The third singular active shows no ending; ε is substituted for α to distinguish the third from the first person.

4080.3 The second singular middle ending is again contracted (-ασο > -ω), as in the imperfect of ω-verbs (§§4000, 4010.2, 4020.2), and in the second aorist (§407).

4080.4 The first aorist personal endings are thus identical with those attached to the imperfect of ω-verbs and second aorists, except for the first singular active (# for -ν).

0409. The formation of the first aorist stem for six subclasses (as represented in Appendix III) was considered in §§355-361. To those six subclasses may be added other important subclasses in which some ostensible 'irregularity' is involved in the formation of the first aorist tense stem.

409. Consonant stems ending in a stop (Appendix III, Class I.3).

409.1 Consonant stems ending in a labial stop (π, β, φ), form the first aorist, as usual, by adding -σα (plus augment) to the present tense. The juxtaposition of a labial plus σ produces ψ:

βλέπω, βλέψω, ἔβλεψα
τρίβω, τρίψω, -έτριψα
γράφω, γράψω, ἔγραψα

409.2 Consonant stems ending in a palatal (κ, γ, χ) accordingly produce ξ:

διώκω, διώξω, ἐδίωξα
ἀνοίγω, ἀνοίξω, ἀνέῳξα
ἄρχω, ἄρξομαι, ἠρξάμην

409.3 Consonant stems ending in a dental (τ, δ, θ) naturally lose the dental before σ:

ψεύδομαι, ψεύσομαι, ἐψευδάμην
πείθω, πείσω, ἔπεισα

409.4 The phonetic changes involved are identical with those in the corresponding future tense stems (§375; the future is included here for comparison).

410. 'Liquid' first aorists. Just as there are 'liquid' form-sets in the future tense (§376), there are also 'liquid' first aorists. Verb stems ending in a liquid (λ, ρ) or a nasal (μ, ν) and forming a first aorist tense stem, lose the σ of the tense formative, and, as a rule, lengthen the stem vowel in compensation, e.g. μένω, ἔμεινα (for *εμενσα). The compensatory lengthening of the stem vowel is not always visible, e.g. not in verbs whose stem vowel is ι or υ. Except for the absence of the σ, the first aorist of liquid verbs is conjugated exactly like that of ἐπίστευσα:

  κρίνω, ἔκρινα ἄγγελλω, ἠγγειλάμην
  Active Middle
Sg. 1.  ἔκρινα ἠγγειλάμην
2.    ἔκρινας ἠγγείλω
3.    ἔκρινε (ν) ἠγγείλατο
Pl. 1.    ἐκρίναμεν ἠγγειλάμεθα
2.    ἐκρίνατε ἠγγείλασθε
3.    ἔκριναν ἠγγείλαντο

411. 'Root' aorists. A second type of 'strong' aorist, in addition to the thematic second aorist (§§406-4070), is the 'root' aorist, so called because personal endings are added directly to the tense base or 'root' (athematic or μι-conjugation). Such verbs are few in number, but some are of high frequency: ἔστην (ἵστημι), -έβην (βαίνω), ἔγνων (γινώσκω).

Sg. 1.    ἔστην ἀνέβην ἔγνων
2.    ἔστης ἀνέβης ἔγνως
3.    ἔστη ἀνέβη ἔγνω
Pl. 1.    ἔστημεν ἀνέβημεν ἔγνωμεν
2.    ἔστητε ἀνέβητε ἔγνωτε
3.    ἔστησαν ἀνέβησαν ἔγωσαν

In addition, ἔδυ and ἔδυσαν from -δύω appear, and ἐπιπέτομαι has a root aorist, ἐπέπτην. There are no middle forms for these verbs (but see §412.1).

412. κ-aorists. A second type of 'weak' aorist, in addition to the regular sigmatic first aorist (§§408-410), is the κ-aorist, so called because κ replaces σ in the formation of the aorist tense stem; the κ-aorist may be called 'weak' because the κ-forms employ 'weak' or first aorist endings.

4120. Three verbs of the μι-class have κ-aorists in the active voice, but 'root' aorists in the middle voice: ἔθηκα (τίθημι), ἔδωκα (δίδωμι), ἀφῆκα (ἀφίημι):

Sg. 1.    ἔθηκα ἔδωκα ἀφῆκα
2.    ἔθηκας ἔδωκας ἀφῆκας
3.    ἔθηκε (ν) ἔδωκε (ν) ἀφῆκε (ν)
Pl. 1.    ἐθήκαμεν ἐδώκαμεν ἀφήκαμεν
2.    ἐθήκατε ἐδώκατε ἀφήκατε
3.    ἔθηκαν ἔδωκαν ἀφῆκαν
Sg. 1.    ἐθέμην ἐδόμην
2.    ἔθου (< εσο) ἔδου (< οσο)
3.    ἔθετο ἔδοτο
Pl. 1.    ἐθέμεθα ἐδόμεθα
2.    ἔθεσθε ἔδοσθε
3.    ἔθεντο ἔδοντο

The middle is lacking for ἀφῆκα.

4121. Notes:

4121.1 The κ-forms follow the first aorist pattern precisely, with the substitution of κ for σ.

4121.2 The middle 'root' aorist forms of τίθημι, δίδωμι show the short stem vowel (cf. §§404.4, 4040 for the imperfect, §§370.3, 3700 for the present), and the second singular is contracted (unlike the imperfect forms: §§404.3, 4040).

        ↓ 4122. Mixture of paradigms. A few verbs already in the classical period exhibited alternative 'strong' and 'weak' endings, e.g. the aorist of φέρω could be conjugated either as a 'weak' aorist, ἤνεγκα, -ας, -ε (ν), etc., or as a 'strong' aorist, ἤνεγκον, -ες, -ε(ν), etc. The common second aorist εἶπον, I said, could also take 'weak' endings, e.g. εἶπας, εἶπατε. One advantage of the 'weak' paradigm was that active third plural -αν could be distinguished from active first singular -α, while in the 'strong' paradigm they were identical. This convenience led to the intrusion of 'weak' endings more and more into the strong paradigm. In hellenistic Greek second aorists like ἦλθον (ἔρχομαι), -εῖλον (αἱρέω), ἔβαλον (βάλλω), εὗρον (εὑρίσκω) are found occasionally with 'weak' endings, e.g. ἤλθα, -εῖλα, ἔβαλαν, εὕραμεν, etc. Moreover, second aorists like ἔπεσον (πίπτω) were felt to be σ-aorists and so acquired 'weak' endings, e.g. ἔπεσα. At the same time, new first aorist formations began to displace older second aorist forms, e.g. ἡμάρτησα is found alongside ἥμαρτον (ἁμαρτάνω). The intrusion was not, however, all one way. 'Strong' endings also penetrated the 'weak' paradigm: under the influence of the third singular active -ε(ν), common to both paradigms, the active second singular -ες‚ and the active second plural -ετε began to penetrate the 'weak' paradigm. As a result of this long development from classical to modern times, a single set of personal endings for the imperfect and both aorists has emerged in modern Greek: -α, -ες, -ε(ν), -αμεν, -ετε (-ατε­), -αν. The end product is the conflation of the two paradigms, a conflation that is underway already in hellenistic times. Cf. Bl-D §81.