11 Pronouns: Part I

2007.01.0948

A decree of the Nomothetai, or law-givers, concerning the Lesser Panathenaia festival, ca. 335 B.C. Athenian Agora Excavations.

 


Introduction to Pronouns

Pronouns in Greek for the most part work much as they do in English: they replace nouns. Since Greek nouns are distinguished by gender, number, and case, it is logical that the pronouns that replace them inflect to represent these same qualities. You have already seen this basic mechanism in practice: the definite article is the same gender, number, and case as the noun that it modifies.

Most Greek pronouns closely resemble the definite article. Let us review forms of the definite article (S 332; GPH p. 41):

Masculine:

Singular Plural
Nominative οἱ
Genitive τοῦ τῶν
Dative τῷ τοῖς
Accusative τόν τούς

Feminine:

Singular Plural
Nominative αἱ
Genitive τῆς τῶν
Dative τῇ ταῖς
Accusative τήν τάς

Neuter:

Singular Plural
Nominative τό τά
Genitive τοῦ τῶν
Dative τῷ τοῖς
Accusative τό τά

 

3rd Person Personal Pronoun

Our first pronoun is the Greek equivalent he/she/it. Greek uses a single pronoun for all of these, and declines it by gender, number, and case. While the definite article has the stem τ-, this pronoun has the stem αὐτ-. The forms of αὐτός use the same endings with one exception: The masculine nominative singular of the pronoun ends in  –ς. Note also the accent pattern, which is similar to that of the definite article (S 327; GPH p. 43).

Singular:

M  F  N
Nominative αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό
Genitive αὐτοῦ αὐτῆς αὐτοῦ
Dative αὐτῷ αὐτῇ αὐτῷ
Accusative αὐτόν αὐτήν αὐτό

Plural:

M  F  N
Nominative αὐτοί αὐταί αὐτά
Genitive αὐτῶν αὐτῶν αὐτῶν
Dative αὐτοῖς αὐταῖς αὐτοῖς
Accusative αὐτούς αὐτάς αὐτά

 

Depending on its placement in a sentence, the αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό has three possible translations (S 328).

1. He/she/it

When the pronoun is standing on its own in any case except for the nominative, it is used as a 3RD PERSON PERSONAL PRONOUN. The form of the pronoun must correspond in gender, number, and case to the noun that it is replacing.

  • οἱ ἄρχοντες διδόασι τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν.
    • The rulers give hope to the children.
  • οἱ ἄρχοντες διδόασιν αὐτὴν αὐτοῖς.
    • The rulers are giving it to them.

 

2. Self

When this pronoun is used on its own in the NOMINATIVE case, it is emphatic and reflexive, much like ἐγώ,”I,” is emphatic when used in a Greek sentence. It is also emphatic if a form of the pronoun is used as an ADJECTIVE in the PREDICATE POSITION to modify a noun of any case.

  • ἀποδίδομεν τὰ χρήματα, ἀλλ’ οὐκ αὐτοὶ ἀποδιδόασιν.
    • We give money back, but they themselves do not give (it) back.
    • αὐτοὶ is in the NOMINATIVE case.
  • οἱ ἄρχοντες αὐτοὶ διδόασιν αὐτὴν τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῖς.
    • The rulers themselves give hope itself to the children themselves.
    • αὐτοὶ/αὐτὴν/αὐτοῖς are adjectives in the PREDICATE position.

 

3. Same

When this pronoun is used instead as an ADJECTIVE in the ATTRIBUTIVE POSITION, it means “same.”

  • οἱ αὐτοὶ ἄρχοντες διδόασι τὴν αὐτὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς αὐτοῖς παισίν.
    • The same rulers give the same hope to the same children.
    • αὐτοὶ/αὐτὴν/αὐτοῖς are adjectives in the ATTRIBUTIVE position.
  • οἱ αὐτοὶ ἄρχοντες διδόασι τὴν αὐτὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν αὐτοῖς.
    • The same rulers give the same hope to the children themselves.
    • αὐτοὶ/αὐτὴν are adjectives in the ATTRIBUTIVE position.
    • αὐτοῖς is an adjective in the PREDICATE position.

 

ATTRIBUTIVE vs. PREDICATE POSITION

An adjective is considered in an ATTRIBUTIVE POSITION when it modifies a noun with a definite article, and the adjective itself follows the definite article. For example: ἡ αὐτὴ πατρίς. An adjective is considered in the PREDICATE POSITION if the adjective precedes the article, or follows the article and noun. For example: ἡ πατρὶς αὐτή or αὐτὴ ἡ πατρίς. More on the significance of the attributive and predicate positions of adjectives is discussed in later lessons.

 

Demonstrative Pronouns (that, those)

The next pronoun is the Greek equivalent of that/those. This pronoun has the stem ἐκειν-. It uses the same endings as the definite articles with one exception: The masculine nominative singular form ends in  –ς. Note the accent pattern: it is a PERSISTENT ACCENT on the PENULT, which for this pronoun is long (-ει-). As a result, the length of the ultima determines whether this penult receives a circumflex or an acute accent (S 333; GPH p. 49).

Singular:

M  F  N
Nominative ἐκεῖνος ἐκείνη ἐκεῖνο
Genitive ἐκείνου ἐκείνης ἐκείνου
Dative ἐκείνῳ ἐκείνῃ ἐκείνῳ
Accusative ἐκεῖνον ἐκείνην ἐκεῖνο

Plural:

M  F  N
Nominative ἐκεῖνοι ἐκεῖναι ἐκεῖνα
Genitive ἐκείνων ἐκείνων ἐκείνων
Dative ἐκείνοις ἐκείναις ἐκείνοις
Accusative ἐκείνους ἐκείνας ἐκεῖνα

 

This pronoun can substitute for a noun, or be used as a demonstrative adjective to modify a noun. When used as an ADJECTIVE, it always appears in the PREDICATE POSITION.

  • οἱ ἄρχοντες διδόασι τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν.
    • The rulers give hope to the children.
  • ἐκεῖνοι διδόασι τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν ἐκείνοις.
    • Those (men) give hope to those children.

 

Demonstrative Pronouns (this, these)

The next pronoun is the Greek equivalent of this/these. To form this pronoun, the suffix –δε is added to the definite article. Note the accent pattern, which is similar to that of the definite article (S 333; GPH p. 50).

Singular:

M  F  N
Nominative ὅδε ἥδε τόδε
Genitive τοῦδε τῆσδε τοῦδε
Dative τῷδε τῇδε τῷδε
Accusative τόνδε τήνδε τόδε

Plural:

M  F  N
Nominative οἵδε αἵδε τάδε
Genitive τῶνδε τῶνδε τῶνδε
Dative τοῖσδε ταῖσδε τοῖσδε
Accusative τούσδε τάσδε τάδε

 

This pronoun can substitute for a noun, or be used as a demonstrative adjective to modify a noun. When used as an ADJECTIVE, it always appears in the PREDICATE POSITION.

  • οἱ ἄρχοντες διδόασι τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν.
    • The rulers give hope to the children.
  • οἵδε διδόασι τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῖς παισίν τοῖσδε.
    • These (men) give hope to these children.

 

– τὸ τέλος –

 


Key Terms and Concepts

  • 3RD PERSON PERSONAL PRONOUN
  • THREE POSITIONS/TRANSLATIONS OF αὐτός
  • ATTRIBUTIVE POSITION OF ADJECTIVES
  • PREDICATE POSITION OF ADJECTIVES
  • DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

Vocabulary

  • αὐτός -ή -ό self, same, he/she/it
  • ἐκεῖνος -η -ο that
  • ὅδε, ἥδε, τόδε this

Exercises

Ι. Practice declining in full (all cases, genders, numbers) the three pronouns in this lesson.

ΙΙ. Noting carefully the placement of the pronoun αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό, translate each of the following phrases.

  1. ἡ αὐτὴ πατρίς
  2. ὁ ἡγεμὼν αὐτός
  3. αὐτῷ αὐτὸ παραδίδωσι
  4. αὐτὴ ἡ πατρίς
  5. αὐτὸς ἵστησι
  6. αὐτοὺς ἀπόλλυσι

III. Note the following sentence: οἱ δαίμονες εἴτε τὸ φῶς εἴτε τὴν ἐλπίδα δεικνύασιν. Rewrite the sentence in Greek, using the appropriate pronouns/adjectives in the appropriate gender, number, and case, so that it translates as follows.

  1. They themselves are showing either that or this.
  2. The same gods are showing either this or that.

IV. Note the following sentence: ὁ ἄρχων οὖν τὸ ὕδωρ ἢ τὰ χρήματα τῷ ἡγεμόνι παραδίδωσι. Rewrite the sentence in Greek, using the appropriate pronouns/adjectives in the appropriate gender, number, and case, so that it translates as follows. (Note: the words in parentheses need not be translated into Greek).

  1. The same ruler, therefore, is handing over that (water) or that (money) to this commander.
  2. The ruler himself, therefore, is handing over this water or that money to him.

 

License

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Pronouns: Part I by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.