Lesson 33: Sentence Structure


While sentence types I-IV comprise the bulk of sentences occurring in the average Greek text, there is a number of other types that require notice.


520. Some verbs take not one but two objects in the accusative case:

        2-1              4                  4
(1) ἐδίδαξεν / αὐτοὺς . . . / πολλά Mk 4:2                    
  he taught them many things
              4                2-1             4
(2) . . . ψεύστην / ποιοῦμεν / αὐτόν 1 Jn 1:10
  we make him a liar

The pattern of both of these sentences is 1/2/4/4 or 2-1/4/4, where 4 represents a word or word group, the head term of which is in the accusative case.

While the patterns of (1) and (2) are superficially identical, other factors suggest that it is grammatically necessary to distinguish them.


521.1 In (2) it will be observed that the two accusatives refer to the same person or thing: him, liar. For that reason ψεύστην is called the object complement, while him is referred to as the direct object. Now it was observed that the identity of reference is also characteristic of S-II, and the predicate of such sentences with an equative verb is called the subject complement, e.g.

αὐτὸς . . . ψεύστης ἐστιν cf. 1 Jn 2:4                     
he is a liar

The similarity of the two constructions has led grammarians to call the second accusative in sentences like (2) the predicate accusative. And there is good justification for this designation when it is observed that an equative verb sometimes actually links the two accusatives. Compare these sentences:

       2-1         4                     4
(3) ποιήσω / ὑμᾶς / ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων Mt 4:19  
  I shall make you fishers of men
       2-1          4              i                        4
(4) ποιήσω / ὑμᾶς / γενέσθαι / ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων Mk 1:17                                                           
  I shall make you (to become) fishers of men

The insertion of the infinitive γενέσθαι (designated i) in (4) proves that the second accusative is grammatically a predicate accusative or an object complement, since the two sentences mean the same thing. While (4) must be considered a different grammatical structure because of the infinitive (to be considered subsequently) , the similarity between the two helps to determine the deep grammatical structure of (3) and hence (2) .

521.2 A sentence with two accusatives but with a verb other than ποιέω is

       2-1                      4                   4
(5) καλέσεις / τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ / Ἰησοῦν Lk 1:13                                                 
  You shall call his name Jesus

This sentence meets the criterion of §521.1, i.e. the two accusa tives refer to the same person or thing: his name, Jesus. The second accusative is therefore a predicate accusative, and (5) is grammatically comparable to (2) and (3). While ποιέω does not appear in the passive voice, καλέω does. We may inquire what the passive form of a sentence like (5) would be.

        2                   1                     3
(6) ἐκλήθη / τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ / Ἰησοῦς Lk 2:21                                               
  His name was called Jesus

From (6) we may deduce two generalizations in relation to (5):

(a) In the passive transformation, the direct object becomes the "subject" of the passive verb;

(b) the predicate accusative is retained as a predicate with the passive verb, but is changed to the nominative case. The passive form of a sentence like (5), i.e* (6), will therefore look like S-II (1/2/3), except that the verb will be passive. It will be recalled that there are no passive forms of S-II with equative verbs (§508.3). We should thus distinguish the structure of (6) from S-II by indicating the voice of the verb: l/2pass/3.

521.3 Let sentences with two accusatives that meet the criteria in §521.1-2 be given the designation S-V.

               1              4             4            2
(7) V. Δαυὶδ [οὖν] / αὐτὸν / Κύριον / καλεῖ Lk 20:44  
    David [therefore} calls him Lord
         1     2pass          3
(8) VP. σὺ / κληθήσῃ / Κηφᾶς Jn 1:42                                
    You shall be called Cephas

VP. stands for the passive transformation of V.

522. Type V sentences are not common, but they do appear occasionally with verbs such as:

ποιέω make
καλέω call, name
ἐπικαλέω name
λέγω call, name
ἔχω hold, regard as
ὀνομάζω call, name
τίθημι make

Bl-D §157.


523.1 In sentences with two accusatives like (1), neither accusative is a predicate accusative (they do not refer to the same person or thing). Rather, both appear to be objects of the verb. Indeed, the accusatives in (1) may appear separately with the verb:

2-1 4
(9) ἐδίδασκεν [γὰρ] / τοὺς μαθητὰς αύτοῦ Mk 9:31
[For] he taught his disciples
4 2-1
(10) τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ / διδάσκεις Mk 12:14
You teach the way of God

Or, as in (1) , they may be combined:

1 4 2 4
(11) ἐκεῖνος / ὑμᾶς / διδάξει / πάντα Jn 14:26
That one will teach you all things

Double forms like (9) and (10) are not possible with verbs of S-V (§522) (where the verbs have the same meaning with each object as they do with two objects).

523.2 In the passive transformation of S-V, the direct object becomes the "subject" of the passive verb and the predicate accusative is retained but changed to the nominative case (§521.2). The passive form of sentences like (1) and (11) is illustrated by this example:

4 2pass 1
(12) [καὶ] τὰ ἀρεστά σου / ἐδιδάχθησαν / ἄνθρωποι WsdSol 9:18
[And] men were taught the things that please you

Notice that one object becomes the "subject" of the passive verb, while the second is retained as an object and in the accusative case. Actually, either object may become "subject" of the passive verb, though examples are exceedingly rare (see Liddell-Scott, s.v. διδάσκω).

523.3 Let the sentences that meet the criteria in §523.1-2 be called S-VI.

2 4 1
(13) VI. ἠρώτων / αύτὸν / οὶ περὶ αύτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα /
τὰς παραβολάς Mk 4:10
Those about him with the twelve asked him
[about] the parables
4 2-1
(14) VIP. . . . τας παραδόσεις] ἃς / ἐδιδάχθητε 2 Thess 2:15
. . . the traditions] which you were taught
VIP. stands for the passive form of S-VI.

524. Type VI sentences are not at all common, but they occur rarely with such verbs as:

διδάσκω teach
ἐρωτάω ask, inquire (someone about)
αίτέω ask (someone for)
ὑπομιμνῄσκω remind (someone of something)
ἀναμιμνῄσκω remind (someone of something)

Bl-D §§155-156.


525. The sentence types examined thus far have been predominantly in the form of statements. So far as grammatical structure is concerned, the same sentence types apply with equal validity to questions and requests (commands). There will normally be some signal in the sentence that will indicate whether the sentence is a question or a request, if it is not a statement. Questions are often signaled by interrogative words, and commands are normally signaled by the imperative mood of the verb. Our immediate concern is to notice that questions and requests conform to the same grammatical structures as do statements.

526. Questions are often, though not always, signaled by an interrogative word. Interrogative words may be interrogative pronouns, which are declined (§265), or interrogative adverbs, which are not. Such interrogative words may belong to the structure of the sentence as a constitutive element, or they may be an optional item. For example,

(1) ποῦ / μένεις Jn 1:38
Where are you staying?

is S-I with an interrogative adverb, ποῦ where? On the other hand, τίς in the question

1 3 2
(2) σὺ / τίς / εἶ Jn 8:25
Who are you?

belongs to the grammatical structure of S-II as the predicate (σὺ is tied to εἶ by agreement in number and person, i.e. 2nd person sg. and is therefore the "subject"). The order of words in the interrogative sentence in Greek is not as fixed as it is in English. In edited Greek texts the question mark (?) is (;).

The following questions illustrate the same basic grammatical structures as found in declarative sentences. The symbol Q is used to designate interrogative words in the analysis; if it is an optional element in the sentence type, it is put in (). Sentence-type is given at left.

Q 2-1
(3) I.(Q) τί [οὖν] βαπτίζεις; Jn 1:25
Then why do you baptize?
3 2 1
(4) II.3 ὁ προφήτης / εἶ / σύ; Jn 1:22
Are you the prophet?
Q 4 2-1
(5) III.4 τί / με / πειράζετε; Mt 12:15
Why do you test me?
2 4 5
(6) IV.4/5 ἔξεστιν δοῦναι / κῆσον / Καίσαρι / ἤ οὔ; Mt 12:14
Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?
4Q 4 2-1
(7) V.4/4Q τίνα / σεαυτὸν / ποιεῖς; Jn 8:53
What do you make yourself out to be?

527. Requests and commands are normally signaled by the imperative mood of the verb. The prohibitive subjunctive with negative μη is also used. Unlike English, the Greek imperative has a 3. sg. and 3. pl., which is represented in English by "Let him...," "Let them..." (§0455). Requests and commands reflect the same grammatical structures as do statements and questions.

(8) I. χαίρετε Mt 5:12
2-1 3
(9) II.3 ἤτω / ἀνάθεμα 1 Cor 16:22
Let him be anathema.
2-1 4
(10) III.4 ἀγαπᾶτε / τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν Mt 5:44
Love your enemies.
2pass 1
(11) IIIP Ἁγυασθήτω / τὸ ὄνομα σου Mt 6:9
Let your name be hallowed.
2-1 5 4
(12) IV.4/5 ἄφες / ἡμῖν / τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν Mt 6:12
Forgive us our debts.
4 2-1 4
(13) V.4/4 ἐυθείας / ποιεῖτε / τὰς τρίβους αύτοῦ Mk 1:3
Make his paths straight.

With prohibitive subjunctive:

2-1 4 4
(14) III.4 μὴ είσενέγκῃς / ἡμᾶς / είς πειρασμόν Mt 6:13
Do not lead us into temptation.