Lesson 30: Verbs/Imperative, Infinitive, Participle

C. Inflection of the Verb in the Imperative Mood

0455. Introduction. The imperative mood in Greek, unlike English, is used in the third person as well as in the second person. There is no first person imperative in either language. The third person will have to be handled in translation by some linguistic device, e.g. 'Let him go,' 'Let them remain.' This particular device corresponds to the hortatory subjunctive (in Greek) of the first person, 'Let us go.' Thus, in English the linguistic device with 'let' is employed in the first and third persons, the imperative in the second person only; in Greek the first person is handled by the subjunctive, the second and third persons by the imperative.

455. The contours of the imperative system are indicated by the following generalizations:

455.1 The imperative mood, like the subjunctive, is confined to the present, aorist and perfect tenses (§§300.2, 442.1).

455.2 The perfect imperative is exceedingly rare in the New Testament, the active voice being represented by a single form from οἴδε, ἴστε, and the middle-passive attested only once (πεφίμωσο, Mk 4:39).

455.3 Like the subjunctive and optative, the imperative is built on the appropriate tense stem, less augment.

455.4 The personal endings employed with the imperative are in part distinctive. It will therefore be necessary to treat the personal endings with the imperative as a separate set (§ 456).

456. The personal endings used with the imperative are:

  Active Middle                               
Sg. 2.    ——, —ς, -θι -σο
3.    -τω -σθω
Pl. 2.    -τε -σθε
3.    -τωσαν -σθωσαν

4560. Notes and mnemonic hints:

4560.1 The second person endings, -ς‚ in the active singular, -σο, -τε, -σθε are identical with endings already learned: -ς, -τε, -σθε are both primary and secondary endings (the sets overlap at these points); -σο is a secondary ending (cf. §§318, 319).

4560.2 In the third plural the pluralizing ending -σαν has been added to -τω- and -σθω- respectively (in Attic the forms were -των and -σθων).

4560.3 A handy mnemonic device is: except for -θι (second singular active), forms with -τ- are active, forms with -θ- middle.

4560.4 Active forms, except for the second singular (which is highly irregular), begin with τ, middle forms with σ.

457. The present imperative of ω-verbs (uncontracted and contracted).

Sg. 2.    πιστεύε τίμα (α+ε) ποίει (ε+ε) πλήρου (ο+ε)
3.    πιστευέτω τιμάτω ποιείτω πληρούτω
Pl. 2.    πιστεύετε τιμᾶτε ποιεῖτε πληροῦτε
3.    πιστευέτωσαν τιμάτωσαν ποιείτωσαν πληρούτωσαν
Sg. 2.    πιστεύου τιμῶ (α+ου) ποιοῦ (ε+ου) πληροῦ (ο+ου)
3.    πιστευέσθω τιμάσθω (α+ε) ποιείσθω (ε+ε) πληρούσθω (ο+ε)
Pl. 2.    πιστεύεσθε τιμᾶσθε ποιεῖσθε πληροῦσθε
3.    πιστευέσθωσαν τιμάσθωσαν ποιείσθωσαν πληρούσθωσαν

4570. Notes:

4570.1 In thematic inflections (present imperative of ω-verbs, second aorist imperative), the theme vowel is always ε (cf. the optative where it is always ο, §447).

4570.2 The second singular active has no ending (in contract verbs, the ε contracts with the final stem vowel).

4570.3 The second singular middle-passive is the result of contraction (-εσο > -ου, §930.21).

4570.4 The theme vowel ε contracts with the final stem vowel in all contracted forms (the contractions are given in parentheses in the paradigms). The rules for contraction have been given in connection with the imperfect (§403, cf. §917).

4570.5 The second plurals, both active and middle-passive, are identical with the corresponding indicative forms.

458. The present imperative of μι-verbs.

Sg. 2.    ἵστη τίθει δίδου δείκνυ
3.    ἱστάτω τιθέτω διδότω δεικνύτω
Pl. 2.    ἵστατε τίθετε δίδοτε δείκνυτε
3.    ἱστάτωσαν τιθέτωσαν διδότωσαν δεικνύτωσαν
Sg. 2.    ἵστασο τίθεσο διδόσθω δεικνύσθω
3.    ἱστάσθω τιθέσθω διδόσθω δεικνύσθω
Pl. 2.    ἵστασθε τίθεσθε δίδοσθε δείκνυσθε
3.    ἱστάσθωσαν τιθέσθωσαν διδόσθωσαν δεικνύσθωσαν

4580. Notes:

4580.1 Second singular active: τίθει (τιθε-ε) and δίδου (διδο-ε) have gone over to the thematic inflection (cf. the imperfect of the same verbs, §4041.2); otherwise the stem vowel is long where there is no ending (ἵστη).

4580.2 Second singular middle-passive: -σο does not lose σ and contract (cf. the indicative, §404.3).

459. The present imperative of εἰμί.

Sg. 2.    ἴσθι PI. 2.    (ἔστε)                               
3.    ἔστω, ἤτω 3.    ἔστωσαν

4590. Notes:

4590.1 The second singular ἴσθι is identical with the corresponding form of οἶδα: ἴσθι (perfect active). The identity in second singular forms may have led to confusion in the second plural forms ἔστε (εἰμί), ἴστε (οἶδα); B1-D §353(6).

4590.2 The second plural form, ἔστε, appears to be virtually obsolete by New Testament times (Bl-D §98).

460. The first and second aorist imperative.

  Second Aorist First Aorist                     
  λαμβάνω, ἔλαβον πιστεύω, ἐπίστευσα
Sg. 2.    λάβε πίστευσον
3.    λαβέτω πιστευσάτω
Pl. 2.    λαβέτε πιστεύσατε
3.    λαβέτωσαν πιστευσάτωσαν
Sg. 2.    λαβοῦ πίστευσαι
3.    λαβέσθω πιστευσάσθω
Pl. 2.    λάβεσθε πιστεύσασθε
3.    λαβέσθωσαν πιστευσάσθωσαν

4600. Notes:

4600.1 Except for stem, the second aorist follows the thematic inflection of the present tense exactly (§457; the notes in §4570.1-3 apply to the second aorist also).

4600.2 Except for second singulars, the tense formative -σα appears throughout in the first aorist imperative.

4600.3 The endings for the second singulars are irregular (origin unknown); the second singular middle ending -σαι is identical with that of the first aorist active optative third singular (§447) and the active infinitive (§4662).

4600.4 Liquid first aorists (§410), of course, lose the σ of the tense formative, e.g. μεῖνον, μεινάτω, etc. (μένω, ἔμεινα).

461. Athematic aorist imperative. The 'root' aorists (§§411, 412) form the imperative as follows:

  ἵστημι, ἕστην ἀναβαίνω, ἀνέβην γινώσκω, ἔγνων
Sg. 2. στῆθι (-στα) ἀνάβηθι (-βα) γνῶθι
3. στῆτω ἀναβάτω γνώτω
Pl. 2. στῆτε ἀνάβατε γνῶτε
3. στήτωσαν ἀναβάτωσαν γνώτωσαν
  τίθημι, ἔθηκα ἀφίημι, ἀφῆκα δίδωμι, ἔδωκα
Sg. 2. θές ἄφες δός
3. θέτω ἀφέτω δότω
Pl. 2. θέτε ἄφετε δότε
3. θέτωσαν ἀφέτωσαν δότωσαν
τίθημι, ἔθηκα
Sg. 2. θοῦ
3. θέσθω
Pl. 2. θέσθε
3. θέσθωσαν

4610. Notes:

4610.1 The personal endings are added directly to the stem.

4610.2 The stem vowel is consistently long (στῆθι, γνῶθι) or short, except in βαίνω.

4610.3 The second singular active ending may be either -θι, -ς, or nothing (-στα, -βα).

4610.4 The only middle forms attested in the New Testament are from τίθημι. The second singular middle contracts: θοῦ < θεσο.

462. The perfect imperative. The perfect active imperative, even in classical Greek, was formed periphrastically (perfect participle plus the present imperative of εἰμί). The perfect active is not attested in the New Testament. The perfect middle-passive is almost as rare (§455.2). As in the indicative, the perfect middle-passive imperative is formed by adding the appropriate personal endings directly to the perfect stem:

Sg. 2.    πεπίστευσο
3.    πεπιστεύσθω
PI. 2.    πεπίστευσθε
3.    πεπιστεύσθωσαν

463. The aorist passive imperative. The aorist passive imperative is formed by joining active endings (as elsewhere) to the aorist passive tense base, less augment:

  Second Aorist First Aorist
  φαίνω, ἐφάνην πιστεύω, ἐπιστεύθην
Sg. 2.    φάνηθι πιστεύθητι
3.    φανήτω πιστευθήτω
Pl. 2.    φάνητε πιστεύθητε
3.    φανήτωσαν πιστευθήτωσαν

4630. Note:

The second singular personal ending is -θι, which is deaspirated (§928.2) when it follows upon θ¸ of the tense formative: πιστεύθητι.

D. Inflection of the Infinitive

464. Identification of the infinitive. Like the indicative and the subjunctive, the infinitive is in common use. Instant identification will greatly facilitate reading. Two clues will be helpful in spotting the infinitive:

464.1 All infinitives, except those of contract verbs in the present, will end in -ειν or -αι (-αι is not necessarily the whole ending).

464.2 The middle-passive forms always end in -ειν (excluding the aorist passive, of course, which always takes active endings, §§393, 420, 443, 449, 463).

465. Endings of the infinitive. The endings attached to the respective tense bases are as follows:

-εν   :    present, future, second aorist (thematic inflection)
-αι   :    first aorist
-ναι  :    present, 'root' aorist, perfect, and aorist passive
Middle (-Passive)
-σθαι:    present middle-passive, future middle-passive, aorist middle, perfect middle-passive.

466. The infinitive is employed in the present, future, aorist, and perfect forms in the New Testament (the future perfect is lacking, cf. §300.2). The future passive infinitive is also unattested. The infinitive, like the other non-indicative moods, is built on the appropriate tense base, less augment.

4660. Synopsis of the forms of the infinitive by tense, voice, and type of inflection.

  Active Middle (-Passive)

4660.1 Present (active, -εν, -ναι / mid.-pass., -σθαι)

ω-verbs uncontracted
  πιστεύειν (-ε-εν) πιστεύεσθαι
ω-verbs contracted
  τιμᾶν (-αε-εν) ποιεῖν (-εε-εν)
  ποιεῖν (-εε-εν) ποιεῖσθαι (-εε-σθαι)
  δηλοῦν (-οε-εν) δηλοῦσθαι (-οε-σθαι)
  ἱστάναι ἵστασθαι
  τιθέναι τίθεσθαι
  διδόναι δίδοσθαι
(εἰμί) εἶναι

4660.2 Future (active, -εν / middle, -σθαι)

  λύσειν (σε-εν) λύσεσθαι
liquid future
  μενεῖν (εε-εν) μενεῖσθαι (εε-σθαι)
(εἰμί)   ἔσεσθαι

4660.3 Aorist (active, -εν, -αι, -εναι / middle, -σθαι)

first aorist
  πιστεύσαι πιστεύσασθαι
second aorist
  λιπεῖν (-ε-εν) λίπεσθαι
'root' aorist
  στῆναι (-η-εναι) (στῆσθαι)
  θεῖναι (-ε-εναι) θέσθαι
  δοῦναι (-ο-εναι) (δόσθαι)
  -βῆναι (-η-εναι)
  γνῶναι (-ω-εναι)

4660.4 Perfect (active, -ναι / middle-passive, -σθαι)

first perfect
  πεπιστευκέναι πεπιστεύσθαι
second perfect
  γεγραφέναι γεγράφθαι (-φσθαι)
    δεδέχθαι (-χσθαι)
    πεπείσθαι (-σθαι)
    ἐστάλθαι (-λσθαι)

4660.5 Aorist passive (-ναι)

first aorist passive
second aorist passive

4661. Notes:

4661.1 For the contractions involved in §4660, see §369. Cf. §917 for the additional rules and qualifications necessary to cover all forms of contraction in the infinitive.

4661.2 For the loss of σ in liquid futures, §4660.2, s. §376; for the same phenomenon in §4660.4, s. §§391.1, 392.2. Cf. §930.1.

4661.3 The present infinitives of ω-verbs, the future infinitives, the second aorist infinitives, and apparently the perfect active infinitives are formed with thematic vowel (always ε). The 'root' aorist infinitive suffix is apparently -εναι. (giving the appearance of a theme vowel).

4662. Possible confusions. The infinitive forms in -ειν, -ναι, and -σθαι are distinctive in the verb system, except for the marginal similarities of the pluperfect active first singular in -ειν. The first aorist infinitive in -σαι, however, is like the second singular middle-passive ending -σαι, which appears (in uncontracted form) in the present middle-passive of μι-verbs (§3700), and in the perfect middle-passive (§390); the former have infinitives in -ναι, the latter has an infinitive in -σθαι. The first aorist active infinitive will also look like the third singular active optative, except for accent. As a consequence, confusions should be rare.

E. Inflection of the Participle

0467. Since the participle is a verbal adjective (§§013.3, 101, 247, 300), it manifests characteristics of both verb and noun. It is inflected like a noun since it exhibits gender, number, and case (§§246-250). But it also has tense and voice, as a consequence of which the participle is formed on the various tense stems of the verb, and is subject to active/middle-passive and active/middle/passive distinctions like the verb.

467. Four tenses of the participle are in common use (the future perfect participle was very rare even in classical Greek): present, future, aorist, perfect (cf. §300.2). There will thus be participles formed on each of the principal parts or tense bases, in accordance with the pattern of the finite verb: I. present active and middle-passive participles, II. future active and middle. III. aorist active and middle, IV. perfect active, V. perfect middle-passive, and VI. aorist passive and future passive. As in the case of the infinitive (§466) , there is no imperfect or pluperfect participle. Like the other non-indicative moods, the participle is built on the appropriate tense stem, less augment.

468. The formation of the tense stems of the participles. Three general rules cover the formation of the tense bases of participles: to the tense base of the finite verb, less augment (if any), add:

468.1 Thematic vowel -ο- (never ε, because it always comes before μ or ν, §322) if the corresponding finite tense of the verb is inflected with thematic vowel (the participle always follows the finite tense in this respect);

468.2 The participle stem formative -ντ- to all active participles (except the perfect) and to the aorist passive participle (§247), -μεν- to all middle and middle-passive participles and to the future passive participle (§250), -(κ)οτ- or -(κ)υς‚ (masc.-neut./fem.) to all perfect active participles (§248);

468.3 Case endings in accordance with the rules set out in §§246-250.

4680.Present, future, and second aorist active participles with thematic vowel are formed on the respective tense stems (less augment) by suffixing -ο-ντ- (which is visible e.g. in the masc. gen. sg.; on the nom. forms and the formation of the feminine, s. §§247-2471).

4680.1πιστεύων, πιστεύσουσα, πιστεῦον; gen. sg. πιστεύσοντος, πιστευσούσης, πιστεύσοντος; etc. (present active)

4680.2πιστεύσων, πιστεύσουσα, πιστεύσον; gen. sg. πιστεύσοντος, πιστευσούσης, πιστευσοντος; etc. (future active)

4680.3λαβών, λαβοῦσα, λαβόν; gen. sg. λαβόντος, λαβούσης, λαβόντος; etc. (aorist active, < λαμβάνω)

Present, future, and second aorist participles are inflected exactly alike, the only difference among them being the tense base of the verb, e.g.

λείπων, λείπουσα, λεῖπον; λείποντος, etc.
λείψων, λείψουσα, λεῖψον; λείψοντος, etc.
λιπών, λιποῦσα, λιπόν; λιπόντος, etc.

For the full inflection s. §§247-2471.

4681.Present, future, and second aorist middle (-passive) participles are also formed on the appropriate tense stem (less augment), plus thematic vowel and -μεν- with case endings:

ἀκουόμενος, ἀκουομένη, ἀκουόμενον (present middle-passive)
ἀκουσόμενος, ἀκουσομένη, ἀκουσόμενον (future middle)
λαβόμενος, λαβομένη, λαβόμενον (aorist middle)

4682.Present active/middle-passive participles of contract verbs follow the patterns indicated in §§4680-4681. For inflection s. §2471.40.

4683.The future passive participle is formed on the future passive tense stem by joining -μεν- to the thematic vowel (ο); like the finite forms, it may be either a first or second future passive, i.e. with or without -θ- (§394).

πιστευθησόμενος, πιστευθησομένη, πιστευθησόμενον, etc.
φυησόμενος, φυησομένη, φυησόμενον, etc.

4684.Present and 'root' aorist active participles of μι-verbs, first aorist active participles, and aorist passive participles are formed on the respective tense stems (less augment) by joining -ντ- directly to the tense stem, i.e. without thematic vowel.


  ἵστημι: nom. sg. ἱστάς, ἱστᾶσα, ἱστάν
    gen. sg. ἱστάντος, ἱστάσης, ἱστάντος‚ etc.
  τίθημι: nom. sg. τιθείς, τιθεῖσα, τιθέν
    gen. sg. τιθέντος, τιθείσης, τιθέντος‚ etc.
  δίδωμι: nom. sg. διδούς, διδοῦσα, διδόν
    gen. sg. διδόντος, διδούσης, διδόντος‚ etc.
  δείκνυμι: nom. sg. δεικνύς, δεικνῦσα, δεικνύν
    gen. sg. δεικνύντος, δεικνύσης, δεικνύντος

4684.2ἔστην: στάς, στᾶσα, στάν; gen. sg. στάντος, στάσης, στάντος; etc.

4684.3ἔλυσα: λύσας, λύσασα, λῦσαν; gen. sg. λύσαντος, λυσάσης, λύσαντος; etc.

4684.4ἐλύθη: λυθείς, λυθεῖσα, λυθέν; gen. sg. λυθέντος, λυθείσης, λυθέντος; etc. ἐστάθην: σταθείς, σταθεῖσα, σταθέν; gen. sg. σταθέντος, σταθείσης, σταθέντος; etc.

For the nom. sg. forms, the formation of the feminine, and inflection, s. §§247-2471.

4685.The middle and middle-passive participles of the same groups of verbs (§4684) (the aorist passive excluded, of course) are formed by suffixing -μεν- plus case endings directly to the respective tense stems. For inflection, s. §250.

4685.1ἱστάμενος, ἱσταμένη, ἱστάμενον, etc.

4685.2θέμενος, θεμένη, θέμενον, etc.

4685.3λυσάμενος, λυσαμένη, λυσάμενον, etc.

4686.The perfect active participle may take the form of either a first or second perfect, with or without -κ-, corresponding to the finite forms (§§3850, 3870).

                                πεπίστευκα: πεπιστευκώς, πεπιστευκυῖα, πεπιστευκός
         πεπιστευκότος, πεπιστευκυίας, πεπιστευκότος
       οἴδα (§§338, 443): εἰδώς, εἰδυῖα, εἰδός
    εἰδότος, εἰδυίας, εἰδότος

For the nom. sg. forms, the formation of the feminine, and full inflection, s. §§248-2490.

4687.The perfect middle-passive participle is formed on the perfect middle-passive tense stem by adding -μεν- plus case endings directly to the stem.

                           πεπιστευμένος, -μένη, -μένον
                                         γεγραμένος, -μένη, -μένον

For inflection s. §250.

469.Identification of participles.

4691.All middle(-passive) participles and future passive participles have the suffix -μεν-. They are therefore readily identified. Tense signals will be the same as those found in the corresponding forms of the finite verb (except for augment).

4692.Active participles (except perfect) and aorist passive participles generally exhibit the suffix -ντ-. But this suffix is not apparent in the masc., neut. nom. sg. forms, in the masc., neut. dat. pl. forms, and in the feminine forms because of phonetic changes (§§247-2471).

469.3Perfect active participles generally exhibit the suffix -(κ)οτ- (masc.-neut.) or -υι- (fem). But because of phonetic change (§§249-2490), the τ is lost in the masc., neut. nom. singulars and in the masc., neut. dat. plurals.

469.4The tense signals of active participles will be the same as those associated with the corresponding finite forms, except for augment.