300.1 The verbal system includes finite verbs, infinitives, and certain features of the participle (§§101; 246ff.).
300.2 The full inflectional paradigm (§102 for definition) for the verb will exhibit distinctive forms for each of three persons (first, second, third) in two numbers (singular, plural), a paradigm of six forms that is theoretically repeated with variations for each of three voices (active, middle, passive), in seven tenses (present, imperfect, future, aorist, perfect, pluperfect, future perfect) for the indicative mood, in five tenses for the optative mood (present, future, aorist, perfect, future perfect), in three tenses for the subjunctive and imperative moods (present, aorist, perfect), in addition to which there are active, middle and passive infinitives for each of five tenses (present, future, aorist, perfect, future perfect), and active, middle and passive participles for each of the same five tenses.
300.3 The verbal system is thus more complex than the nominal system (cf. §102). However, the morphemes which indicate person are used over and over again in consistent patterns; the middle and passive voices are often identical (in the present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect); the future perfect need not be considered for hellenistic Greek, the pluperfect is infrequent, and there is an increasing tendency to form tenses periphrastically, i.e. with a form of the verb be (εἶναι) and the participle; the optative is fast disappearing; and the tenses are arranged in systems built on a basic tense stem that is formed in a reasonably consistent manner from the verb stem or base. When all these reductions are taken into account, the verbal system remains more complex than the nominal system, but not nearly so formidable as might appear at first glance.
0301. It is more difficult to illustrate the verbal paradigm from English than it is for the noun (cf. §102). Yet the two verbal systems have much in common. English also exhibits three persons for each of two numbers: I, you, he/she/it; we, you, they. However, except for the verb be, only the present tense in English retains form distinctions for person and number, and even then only in the third person, whereas in Greek form distinctions for person and number run through the whole verbal system. English has no middle voice as such, but the active and passive voices do approximate Greek categories. Formally, i.e. traditionally, there are six tenses in English: past, present, future, past perfect, present perfect, future perfect. The Greek tenses correspond roughly to these, except that Greek has two past tenses, the imperfect to indicate continuous or linear action in past time, and the aorist to indicate punctiliar action in past time. The non-indicative moods have virtually vanished from English — so far as form is concerned — with the exception of remnants of the subjunctive, e.g. If I were you, . . .; be he king or pauper, .... English, of course, also has participles and infinitives, the former having a present, past and perfect form, the latter only a present and present perfect. Only three tenses of the infinitive and participle are in common use in Greek (present, aorist, perfect).
301.1 The English verb (the verb be excepted) has six forms, three finite and three non-finite forms, although there is often overlapping among them. (1) The verb base or lexical form serves for the so-called present tense, the imperative mood, and the infinitive (I go; Go I; He wants to go]; (2) the third person singular of the present indicative is differentiated from the base by the addition of -s (-es): He goes. (3) The third finite form is the past, which shows no variation for person or number (I, you, he, we, you, they went). The non-finite forms include (4) the infinitive (identical with the base), (5) the past, and (6) the present participles (go, gone, going). The infinitive may occur in simple form, i.e. without the function-word to (e.g. I heard fhe car go down the drive), or with to (e.g. He hates to go).
301.2 The paradigm of the English verb is said to derive from three forms: base, past, past participle (e.g. go, went, gone). These are consequently called principal parts. A principal part is a verb form from which a part of the paradigm or conjugational system (§100) of the verb is derived.
301.3 In English there are two types of conjugation: simple and complex (Strang: 127). In the simple type variation in form is confined to the verb itself; in complex it reaches beyond the limits of the word.
301.4 The present and past tenses are mostly simple conjugations (e.g. leaving aside progressive forms, which are complex); the future and perfective tenses are complex.
301.5 Reduced to schematic form and truncated, the English verb system can be represented thus:
|I. Base||II. Past||III. Past Participle|
|Present||I go||Past||I went||Present Perfect||I have gone|
|Future||I will go||Past Perfect||I had gone|
|Future Perfect||I will have gone|
The future tense is placed in column I because it utilizes the base form of the verb. The perfective tenses all employ the past participle and so are listed in column III.
301.6 The verb system in English is actually much more complicated than indicated in §301.5. In addition to the contrast between non-perfective and perfective aspects (I go / I have gone, both considered present in time but differing in the way the action is viewed), there is a contrast between non-durative and durative aspects (I go / I am going: the first is indefinite; the latter marks the action as continuous, as a rule [Roberts: 132]). If the contrasts between non-interrogative / interrogative (I go / do I go), non-negative / negative (I go / I don't go), and active / passive (I hit / I am hit) are added, the total number of differentiated forms comes to 32. The same set of contrasts transposed to the past tense brings the number to 64. Verb phrases constructed with the nine common modal auxiliaries (will, shall, may, might, can, must, would, should, could) extends the number to more than 350 possible verb phrases (e.g. I can go, I can be hit, I will have been hit). A further contrast between non-emphatic / emphatic forms (I go / I do go), and a difference in passive forms (I was hit / I got hit) enlarges the paradigm to more than 550 forms. In a full paradigm, moreover, it would be necessary to consider marginal phrases such as I used to go, I am going to go, I ought to go, I have to go, etc. (The preceding summary is indebted to Strang: 125ff.) In sum, it is difficult to specify a full paradigm for the English verb since so much variation is inherently possible in the system. By contrast, the full paradigm for the Greek verb exhibits 244 forms, aside from an occasional periphrastic formation (§300.3) and the declension of the participle (which belongs also to the nominal system, §§246ff.).
302.1 As indicated in §301.5, the English verb system is derived from three basic forms: base, past, past participle (e.g. go, went, gone]. If we add the progressive verb phrases (e.g. I am going], it is necessary to expand the basic forms to include the present participle (e.g. going). There would then be four principal parts for the English verb system.
302.2 For the Greek verb there are six principal parts. This means that there are six tense systems: each system is based on a principal part (a tense stem or base) from which all the forms in that system are derived. A tense system does not correspond to a tense of the Greek verb: a system may include more or less than the forms belonging to one tense. The present system, for example, includes both the present and imperfect tenses, whereas the future system, so-called, includes only the future active and future middle (the future passive is built on another principal part).
302.3 A schematic representation of the Greek verb will thus have six columns, each headed by a principal part or tense stem (in full form the 1st person singular indicative). By reading down the columns one discovers all the tenses, moods and voices derived from that tense stem. Such a schematic summary is presented in §303.
303. Structure of the Verb System
|I. Present||II. Future||III. Aorist|
|Participle||λύων, -ουσα, -ον||λύσων, -ουσα, -ον||λύσας, -ασα, -αν|
|Participle||λυόμενος, -η, -ον||λυσόμενος, -η, -ον||λυσάμενος, -η, -ον|
|Same as Middle||See Sixth||See Sixth|
|Subjunctive||Principal Part||Principal Part|
|TENSES FORMED ON
THE SAME STEM
Middle and Pass.
|V. Perfect Middle
|VI. Aorist Passive|
|Imperative||(λέλυκε, λελυκὼς ἴσθι)|
|Participle||λελυκώς, -υῖα, -ός|
|Subjunctive||Principal Part||λελυμένος ὦ|
|Participle||λελυμένος, -η, -ον|
|See Fifth||Same as Middle||ἐλύθην|
|Participle||λυθείς, -εῖσα, -έν|
|Participle||——||——||λυθησόμενος, -η, -ον|
|λελυκὼς ἔσομαι (active)|
3030. The tense systems as represented in §303 may be summarized as follows:
3030.1 On the present tense stem is built: the present and imperfect tenses.
3030.2 On the future tense stem: future, active and middle voices.
3030.3 On the aorist tense stem: aorist, active and middle voices.
3030.4 On the perfect active tense stem: perfect and pluperfect, active voice (and future perfect).
3030.5 On the perfect middle-passive tense stem: perfect and pluperfect, middle and passive voices.
3030.6 On the aorist passive tense stem: aorist and future, passive voice.
3031.1 The middle and passive voices are identical in form in the present and imperfect (I. Present system), and in the perfect and pluperfect (V. Perfect middle system).
3031.2 The middle and passive voices are distinct in form in the aorist and future (cf. VI. Aorist passive system, with II and III) ; as a consequence, the aorist and future tenses have distinctive forms for each of the three voices.
3031.3 The active voice is never identical in form with either the middle or the passive.
3031.4 All three voices are built on the same tense stem in the present and imperfect (I), whereas in the future and aorist, the active and middle voices are built on one tense stem (II, III), the passive on another (VI)/ and in the perfect and pluperfect, the active voice is built on one tense stem (IV), the middle and passive voices on another (V).
3031.5 Systems V and VI are thus added to accommodate the distinctive tense stems and forms of the perfect and pluperfect middle-passive (voices are hyphenated where they are identical in form), and the aorist and future passive. (Systems I-IV are commonly called present, future, aorist and perfect systems, although II-IV are not complete without V and VI.)
3031.6 The imperfect tense exhibits only an indicative mood, which is built on the present tense stem (I); the pluperfect exhibits only an indicative mood, which is built on the perfect tense stems (IV, V).
3031.7 The future tense exhibits a defective paradigm with respect to the moods, i.e. there is no future subjunctive or imperative, and the future optative, which is rare in hellenistic Greek, serves only one function (indirect discourse after secondary tenses). For all practical purposes there is only a future indicative, infinitive and participle.
3031.8 The perfect subjunctive, optative and imperative (often formed periphrastically, §300.3) are likewise rare.
3031.9 It may therefore be said, for reasons to be indicated subsequently (§§3100.2, 311) that only the present, aorist (and perfect) show the full range of moods.
0304. Conjugation (inflection) in the verbal system has reference to five factors: person, number, voice, mood and tense, as indicated (§305.2).1. Person, Number, Voice
304. Person. Person in the Greek verb is the same as it is in English: first (I, we), second (you [thou], you [ye]), and third (he, she, it; they) persons.
305. Number. Number is also identical with the English system: singular and plural.
3050. Greek had a dual number which fell into disuse at an early date and does not appear in the Greek vernacular (Smyth §999; Bl-D §§2, 65).
306.1 Voice. Greek has an active voice (I write, you read, he sends) and a passive voice (the book is written, read; the man has been sent), as in English. But Greek, unlike English, also has a middle voice: in the middle voice the subject acts on, for, or with reference to himself (e.g. they submitted to baptism would be expressed by the middle voice in Greek). The middle voice is on the decline in hellenistic Greek, with the result that there is some confusion and much overlapping of the active-middle on the one hand, and the middle-passive on the other. The dissolution of the middle into active and passive is understandable for the reason that the middle stands somewhere between active and passive, and its nuances can be expressed for the most part by other linguistic devices.
306.2 The middle voice is formally identical with the passive in all tenses except the future and the aorist, and even here the distinctive middle forms are on the wane (Bl-D §§77-79).2. Mood
0307. Mood refers to the form of the verb that signals mode or manner of affirmation, e.g. whether the sentence is an assertion, a doubtful statement, a wish, a command, or the like. While there are characteristic uses of the moods, particularly in main clauses, which are appropriate to the traditional definitions, it should be noted that the use of the moods often appears arbitrary, i.e. the connection with the mode of affirmation is not obvious. The syntactical distribution of the moods is therefore best learned in connection with the syntax of the sentence. Some generalizations can, however, be offered as starting points.
307. There are four moods in Greek: indicative, subjunctive, optative, imperative, not counting the infinitive and participle, which, strictly speaking, are not moods since they signal nothing about affirmation (a sentence without a finite verb in a mood is therefore said to be an incomplete sentence). Nevertheless, the infinitive and participle are customarily listed under moods in the paradigm of the Greek verb in order not to have to specify categories for them.
307.1 The indicative mood is the mood of assertion, e.g. Jesus said to them: I am the light of the world. The indicative is indeed customarily employed in definite statements, but it is also used in other ways.
307.2 The subjunctive mood is the mood of dubious assertion, expressing probability. It may also be described as the shall and will mood since its reference is usually to the future and often expresses aim, purpose, or resolution.
307.3 The optative mood is the mood of the wish (from Latin opto, wish). It is also used in a potential sense and may therefore be described as the may or might mood. It, too, is employed to express a dubious assertion but of a greater degree of doubtfulness than the subjunctive; it therefore indicates what is possible.
307.4 The imperative mood is the mood of the command and exhortation. Like the indicative, it corresponds to its English counterpart.
3070. Since the indicative and imperative correspond to their English counterparts and the optative is little used in hellenis-tic Greek, one has to reckon primarily with the subjunctive.
308.1 Verb forms representing any one of the four moods are called finite forms because they are limited by personal endings, i.e. each form is restricted to a particular person and number. The infinitive and participle are included in the verbal system although they are hybrids (verb and noun, verb and adjective, respectively) and do not take personal endings. They are thus infinite or non-finite 'moods'.
308.2 The infinitive is a verbal noun; it has only one ending for each voice of each tense, but is not declined like a noun (though it may have case, which is signaled by some other device, e.g. article, preposition).
308.3 The participle is a verbal adjective (or noun); it thus has only one form for each voice of each tense, but these forms are declined like adjectives (§§246ff.).3. Tense
0309. Tense refers to the time an 'action' is viewed as occurring or existing; aspect refers to the kind of action (Aktionsart) or the manner in which an 'action' is conceived as transpiring. Both tense and aspect are customarily embraced under the rubric, tense. This produces a certain amount of confusion since time (tense) is integral only to the indicative mood; aspect (Aktionsart) applies to a greater or lesser degree to all the moods and is the sole consideration in the non-indicative moods.
309. Three kinds of action or aspects are expressed by the Greek verb:
309.1 Punctiliar or point action (.);
309.2 Iterative or linear action ( . . . . . . or ________) ;
309.3 Action conceived as completed or having a lasting effect (_________. or .__________) .
310. In the moods other than the indicative, the aspects as aspects are represented by:
310.1 The aorist: punctiliar action;
310.2 The present: durative or iterative action;
310.3 The perfect: completed action.
3100.1 Originally verb roots denoted a specific kind of action, but as the language developed other kinds of action were superimposed on the root in order to make the verb more flexible.
3100.2 The form of the verb to which the name 'tense' is given fundamentally denotes aspect or kind of action. The original function of the verb root (§3100.1) was thus taken over largely by 'tense1. This can best be observed in the non-indicative moods where time is not primarily related to tense. Since there are three kinds of action or aspects denoted by the Greek verb (§309), there is need for only three 'tenses' in the non-indicative moods, corresponding to these aspects (§310). Cf. §3031.7-9. (The future and future perfect optative were developed for special syntactical functions.)
311. Tense as time is superimposed upon tense as aspect in the indicative mood. This is achieved formally by the addition of formants not found in the non-indicative moods, and, in the absence of such formants, by contrast. E.g., if the present indicative tense denotes (among other things) durative or progressive action in present time, the imperfect (formed on the present stem) denotes durative action in past time: the tense stem remains constant (λυ-), but to the imperfect is added a prefix (augment) which denotes past time (ἐ-λυ-). Since tense as time affects only the indicative mood in principle, the imperfect, pluperfect and future (exception noted, §3031.7) tenses will exhibit only an indicative mood (a present and an imperfect subjunctive, for example, would both denote the same thing, durative action in the subjunctive mood, the temporal element being irrelevant).
312.1 Summarized under the heading of aspect, the Greek verb exhibits three 'tenses': aorist (punctiliar action), present (durative action), and perfect (perfective action). These more or less apply to all the moods, including the indicative, but are alone relevant to the non-indicative moods.
312.2 When tense as time is added to 'tense' as aspect, the picture becomes more complicated; the complications will, of course, affect only the indicative mood.
a) The present stem, although durative as regards aspect, will have to do duty for punctiliar action in present time in the indicative mood, the punctiliar stem (aorist) having been relegated to past time in the indicative mood.
b) The future indicative functions to express both punctiliar and durative action (the punctiliar and durative stems having been assigned to past and present, respectively).
c) Perfective stems, however, have been developed for all times: past, present, future, just as a distinctive durative form has been developed for past time (imperfect).
312.3 Summarized graphically, the relation of tense as time and 'tense' as aspect in the indicative mood may be represented thus:
3120. Remarks. Tense as aspect and even as time in the indicative mood should be taken lightly, i.e. not forced. As in English (He comes tomorrow), so in Greek, the present tense can refer to future time. The present tense is also used historically (i.e. aoristically, to refer to past time), and there are examples of a perfective present (see Bl-D §§321-23). Similar remarks could be made regarding other tenses.