Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

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


The Second Declension
Order of Words
Movable ν

24. Vocabulary (audio)

ἀδελφός, ὁ a brother
ἄνθρωπος, ὁ a man
ἀπόστολος, ὁ an apostle
δοῦλος, ὁ a slave, a servant
δῶρον, τό a gift
θάνατος, ὁ a death
ἱερόν, τό a temple
καὶ and
λόγος, ὁ a word
νόμος, ὁ a law
οἶκος, ὁ a house
υἱός, ὁ a son

25. There are three declensions in Greek. The second declension is given before the first for purposes of convenience, since it is easier, and has a larger number of common nouns.

26. There is no indefinite article in Greek, and so ἀδελφός means either brother or a brother (usually the latter). Greek has, however, a definite article, and where the Greek article does not appear, the definite article should not be inserted in the English translation. Thus ἀδελφός does not mean the brother. In the plural, English, like Greek, has no indefinite article. ἄνθρωποι, therefore, means simply men. But it does not mean the men.

27. The noun in Greek has gender, number, and case.

28. There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

The gender of nouns must often be learned by observation of the individual nouns. But nearly all nouns of the second declension ending in -ος are masculine; and all nouns of the second declension in -ον are neuter. The gender is indicated in the vocabulary by the article placed after the noun. The masculine article, , indicates masculine gender; the feminine article, , feminine gender; and the neuter article, τό, neuter gender.

29. There are two numbers, singular and plural. Verbs agree with their subject in number.

30. There are five cases; nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative.

31. The declension of ἄνθρωπος, ὁ, a man, is as follows (audio):

Nom.ἄνθρωποςa manἄνθρωποιmen
Gen.ἀνθρώπουof a manἀνθρώπωνof men
Dat.ἀνθρώπῳto or for a manἀνθρώποιςto or for men
Acc.ἄνθρωπονa manἀνθρώπουςmen

32. The student should observe carefully how the principles of accent apply to this noun and all the others. In oral practice and recitations the stress in pronunciation should be placed carefully on the syllables where the accent appears.

33. The stem of a noun is that part of the noun which remains constant when the various endings are added. The stem of ἄνθρωπος is ἀνθρωπο-, and all other setond-declension nouns, like ἄνθρωπος, have stems ending, in ο. The second declension, therefore, is sometimes called the ο-declension. But this final ο of the stem becomes so much disguised when the endings enter into combination with it, that it is more convenient to regard ἀνθρωπ- as the stem and -ος, -ου, etc., as the endings. It should at any rate be observed, however, that ο (with the long of it, ω) is the characteristic vowel in the last syllable of second-declension nouns.

34. The subject of a sentence is put in the nominative case. Thus ἀπόστολος γινώσκει means an apostle knows. The object of a transitive verb is placed in the accusative case. Thus βλέπω λόγον means I see a word.

35. The genitive case expresses possession. Thus λόγοι ἀποστόλων means words of apostles or apostles’ words. But the genitive has many other important uses, which must be learned by observation. The functions of the Latin ablative are divided, in Greek, between the genitive and the dative.

36. The dative case is the case of the indirect object. Thus λέγω λόγον ἀποστόλοις means I say a word to apostles. But the dative has many other important uses which must be learned by observation.

37. The vocative case is the case of direct address, Thus ἀδελφέ, βλέπομεν means brother, we see. In the plural the vocative case in words of all declensions is in form like the nominative. The vocative plural may therefore be omitted in repeating paradigms.

38. Learn the declension of λόγος, ὁ, a word, and of δοῦλος, ὁ, a servant, in §557. These nouns differ from ἄνθρωπος only in that the accent is different in the nominative singular and therefore the application of the general rules of accent works out differently.

39. The declension of υἱός, ὁ, a son, is as follows (audio):


40. Here the rule of noun accent decrees that the accent must be on the ultima in all cases, because it was there in the nominative singular. But which accent shall it be? The general rules of accent answer this question where the ultima is short; for of course only an acute, not a circumflex, can stand on a short syllable. But where the ultima is long, the general rules of accent will permit either an acute or a circumflex. A special rule is therefore necessary. It is as follows:

In the second declension, when the ultima is accented at all, it has the circumflex in the genitive and dative of both numbers, elsewhere the acute.

Explanation: The “elsewhere” really refers only to the accusative plural, because in the nominative and vocative singular and plural and in the accusative singular the general rules of accent would forbid the circumflex, the ultims being short in these cases.

41. The declension of δῶρον, τό, a gift, is as follows (audio):

N, Vδῶρονδῶρα

42. It will be observed that δῶρον is a neuter noun. In all neuter nouns, of all declensions, the vocative and accusative of both numbers are like the nominative, and the nominative, vocative and accusative plural always end in short α.

43. Order of Words

The normal order of the sentence in Greek is like that in English—subject, verb, object. There is no special tendency, as in Latin, to put the verb at the end. But Greek can vary the order for purposes of emphasis or euphony much more freely than English. Thus the sentence, an apostle says a word,is in Greek normally ἀπόστολος λέγει λόγον. But λέγει ἀπόστολος λόγον and λόγον λέγει ἀπόστολος are both perfectly possible. The English translation must be determined by observing the endings, not by observing the order.

44. Movable ν

When the -ουσι of the third person plural of the verb comes either before a vowel or at the end of a sentence, a ν, called movable ν, is added to it. Thus βλέπουσιν ἀποστόλους. Sometimes the movable ν is added even before a word that begins with a consonant. Thus either λύουσι δούλους or λύουσιν δούλους is correct. It must not be supposed that this movable ν occurs at the end of every verb form ending in a vowel when the next word begins with a vowel. On the contrary, it occurs only in a very few forms, which must be learned as they appear.

45. Exercises

I. (audio)

1. ἀδελφὸς βλέπει ἄνθρωπον.
2. δοῦλος γράφει λόγους.
3. ἀπόστολοι διδάσκουσιν ἄνθρωπον.
4. ἀπόστολοι λύουσι δούλους.
5. δοῦλος λαμβάνει δῶρα.
6. λαμβάνουσι υἱοὶ οἴκους.
7. δούλους καὶ οἴκους λαμβάνουσιν ἀδελφοί.
8. βλέπομεν ἱερὰ καὶ ἀποστόλους.
9. δούλους βλέπετε καὶ ἀδελφούς.
10. γράφεις λόγον ἀποστόλῳ.
11. διδάσκει ἄνθρωπον.
12. ἀδελφός λέγει λόγον ἀποστόλῳ.
13. ἀδελφός ἀποστόλων γινώσκει νόμον.
14. δοῦλοι γινώσκουσι νόμον καὶ λαμβάνουσι δῶρα.
15. γινώσκουσι ἄνθρωποι θάνατον.
16. λαμβάνομεν δῶρα καὶ ἔχομεν ἀδελφούς.
17. ἀποστόλοις καὶ δούλοις λέγομεν λόγους θανάτου.
18. ἀδελφοὶ καὶ δοῦλοι γινώσκουσι καὶ βλέπουσι ἱερὰ καὶ δῶρα.
19. γράφει ἀπόστολος νόμον καὶ λέγει λόγους υἱοῖς δούλου.
20. υἱοὶ ἀποστόλων λέγουσι λόγους καὶ λύουσι δούλους.


1. A servant is writing a law.
2. A son sees words.
3. Brothers are loosing servants.
4. Sons take gifts.
5. An apostle sees a servant and a gift.
6. Servants and sons are saying a word to a brother.
7. We see gifts and servants.
8. Men see words and gifts of a brother and houses of apostles and sons.
9. Words and laws we write to brethren; a word of death we say to a servant.
10. A son is seeing temples and houses.
11. Ye know death.
12. Thou taket an apostle’s gift (= a gift of an apostle).
13. Thou art writing a brother’s word to a servant.
14. I loose servants and say words to sons and brothers.
15. A son sees death.
16. They know laws and teach servants of an apostle.