Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

(Based on the book with the same title by Gresham Machen, The MacMillan Company, 1923)


Present Active Indicative

16. Vocabulary (audio)

(The vocabularies should be learned after the paradigms and explanatory parts of the lessons, but before the exercises.)

βλέπω I see
γινώσκω I know
γράφω I write
διδάσκω I teach
ἔχω I have
λαμβάνω I take
λέγω I say
λύω I loose, I destroy

17. The Greek verb has tense, voice, and mood, like the verb in other languages. The present tense (in the indicative) refers to present time; the active voice represents the subject as acting instead of being acted upon; the indicative mood makes an assertion, in distinction, for example, from a command or a wish.

18. The present active indicative of the verb λύω, I loose, is as follows (audio):

1λύωI loose or I am loosingλύομενwe loose or we are loosing
2λύειςthou loosest or thou art loosingλύετεye loose or ye are loosing
3λύειhe looses or he is loosingλύουσιthey loose or they are loosing

19. It will be observed that the distinctions between first person (person speaking), second person (person spoken to), third person (person spoken of), and between singular and plural numbers, which in English are indicated for the most part by subject-pronouns, are indicated in Greek by the endings. Thus no pronoun is necessary to translate we loose into Greek; the we is sufficiently indicated by the ending -ομεν.

20. The part of the verb which remains constant throughout the conjugation and has the various endings added to it is called the stem. Thus the present stem of λύω is λυ-. The present stem of a verb can be obtained by removing the final ω from the form given in the vocabulary. Thus the present stem of λέγω, I say, is λεγ-. The conjugation of the present active indicative of any verb in the vocabulary can be obtained by substituting the present stem of that verb for λυ- and then adding the endings -ω, -εις, -ει, -ομεν, -ετε, -ουσι, as they are given above.

The primary personal endings, which would naturally stand in the tenses called primary tenses, (*1) were, it seems, originally as follows:


(*1) The primary tenses are the present, the future, and the perfect; the secondary tenses are the imperfect, the aorist, and the pluperfect.

Between the stem and these personal endings was placed a variable vowel which before μ and ν was ο and before other letters ε. But in the present active, at least in the singular, this scheme is not carried out, and the beginner is advised for the present simply to regard -ω, -εις, -ει, -ομεν, -ετε, -ουσι as the endings which by their addition to the stem indicate the various persons and numbers.

21. In the present tense there is in Greek no distinction between I loose, which simply represents the action as taking place in present time, and I am loosing, which calls attention to the continuance of the action. Both of these ideas, therefore, should be connected with the Greek form λύω. The distinction between the two will become exceedingly important when we pass over to past time; for there Greek makes the distinction even more sharply than English.

22. The second person, you loose or you are loosing, in English may of course be either singular or plural, and may be translated by the student either by λύεις or by λύετε except where the context makes plain which is meant. Where it is desired, in the exercises, to indicate whether singular or plural is meant, the archaic forms thou loosest, etc., and ye loose, etc., will be used.

23. Exercises

(All English-Greek exercises should be written)

(1) Translate into English (audio):

1. βλέπεις, γινώσκεις, λαμβάνεις.
2. γράφω, ἔχει, λέγει.
3. λύει, διδάσκει, βλέπει.
4. λαμβάνομεν, ἔχομεν, γινώσκομεν.
5. βλέπετε, λέγετε, γράφετε.
6. διδάσκουσι, λαμβάνουσι, λύουσι.
7. γινώσκετε, γινώσκεις, γινώσκομεν.
8. βλέπομεν, διδάσκουσι, λέγει.
9. ἔχεις, βλέπουσι, λαμβάνομεν.

(2) Translate into Greek:

1. We are knowing, we see, we are seeing.
2. They are loosing, they loose, he looses.
3. He is loosing, ye have, thou knowest.
4. I am taking, we know, they say.
5. He has, we are writing, they see.

[The teacher should continue such drill orally, until the student can recognize the Greek words rapidly both by sight and by sound, and translate the English sentences rapidly into Greek.]