="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 512 512">

17 Contract Verbs

2009.04.0459

Fragment of a dedicatory inscription of the late 4th or 5th c. A.D. Two sets of smaller letters (ΤΩΝ and ΡΑ) can be found between lines 1 and 2. These are corrections to the original inscription. Athenian Agora Excavations.


Contract Verbs

The rules of vowel contraction operate in verbs when the VERB STEM ends in one of three short vowels: –α, –ε or –ο. In these cases, the final vowel of the stem contracts with the THEMATIC VOWEL of –ω verbs. Verbs that exhibit these contractions are called CONTRACT VERBS. Since –μι verbs do not conjugate with a thematic vowel, they do not contract.

There are three types of contract verbs: έω, άω, and όω. To inform readers that a verb is a CONTRACT VERB, its FIRST PRINCIPAL PART is always listed in its uncontracted form in a lexicon. For example:

αἱρέω grab
ἐρωτάω ask
δηλόω show

As we will see, contract verbs follow predictable rules for contractions and accents, and conjugate in a stable fashion.

 

έω Contract Verbs

Present Indicative Active

The most common type of contract verbs are those whose verb stems end in –ε. For these verbs, when –ε contracts with a long vowel or diphthong, the long sound simply absorbs the –ε. Otherwise, the contractions are just as we have already learned.

ε + ω = ω
ε + ει = ει
ε + ο = ου
ε + ε = ει
ε + ου = ου

Perhaps the only trick to contract verbs is the accent. There are two steps. First, following the RECESSIVE ACCENT rules, place the accent on the UNCONTRACTED verb form. Second, follow the accent rules that apply to vowel contractions, learned earlier (e.g. ε + ό = ούέ + ὸ = οῦ). These two steps together determine the final form and placement of the accent for a given verb.

So, putting it all together, the conjugation of an έω verb in the Present, Indicative, Active is as follows.

The Present Indicative Active of αἱρέω (cf. S 385; GPH p. 110).

(αἱρέω →) αἱρῶ  I grab

(αἱρέομεν →) αἱροῦμεν we grab

(αἱρέεις →) αἱρεῖς you grab

(αἱρέετε →) αἱρεῖτε you all grab

(αἱρέει →) αἱρεῖ (s)he, it grabs

(αἱρέουσι →) αἱροῦσι they grab

Present infinitive active: (αἱρέειν →) αἱρεῖν

The fact that contract verbs receive their accent in their uncontracted form suggests that all of these verbs were originally pronounced in their uncontracted form by Greek speakers. While Classical Athenian Greek exhibits gradual changes in pronunciation that resulted in the contraction of all verb stems ending in –α, –ε or –ο with thematic vowels, this is not true of all Greek dialects. Homer and Herodotus, for example, often leave some forms uncontracted. Learning and understanding the uncontracted forms not only allows for better mastery and recognition of contract verbs and their accents in Classical and Koine works, but allows for easier recognition of these same verbs in authors who compose in other dialects.

 

Disyllabic –έω Verbs

Verbs in –έω with a disyllabic first person singular offer a slight variation from all other –έω verbs. They DO NOT contract the –ε with either ο or ω. They DO contract –ε with ε and ει. There are only two common disyllabic –έω verbs in Greek: δέω “need, want, lack” and πλέω “sail.” Note the following (S 397; GPH p. 115):

(πλέω →) πλέω  I sail

(πλέομεν →) πλέομεν we sail

(πλέεις →) πλεῖς you sail

(πλέετε →) πλεῖτε you all sail

(πλέει →) πλεῖ (s)he, it sails

(πλέουσι →) πλέουσι they sail

Present infinitive active: (πλέειν →) πλεῖν

 

Future Indicative Active

The FUTURE TENSE of most έω verbs is formed regularly, with one slight change. When the tense marker σ is added to a verb stem ending in ε, the ε lengthens to η. Most (not all!) έω verbs form their future active by adding –σω to the lengthened vowel, resulting in the ending –ήσω. The future tense then conjugates regularly, using –ω personal and infinitive endings.

Note the PRINCIPAL PARTS of the following έω verbs.

ἀδικέω -ήσω commit injustice

αἱρέω -ήσω grab

ἀναιρέω -ήσω raise up

ἀφαιρέω -ήσω take from, take away

αἰτέω -ήσω beg, ask

βοηθέω -ήσω help

δέω δεήσω lack, miss, be in need of (+ gen.) (Note that the –ε of δέω remains when forming its future tense!)

δοκέω, δόξω think, suppose; seem (Note the future tense for this verb!)

ζητέω -ήσω seek

κατηγορέω -ήσω accuse

κατοικέω -ήσω inhabit, settle

κινέω -ήσω move

κρατέω -ήσω rule over

λαλέω -ήσω talk, babble

μισέω -ήσω hate

οἰκέω -ήσω dwell

οἰκοδομέω -ήσω build

ὁμολογέω -ήσω agree

πλέω sail (Note: the future tense of πλέω is introduced in a later lesson).

ποιέω -ήσω do, make

πολεμέω -ήσω make war

φοβέω -ήσω frighten

φρονέω -ήσω think

 

The following verbs are not έω verbs, but their future tense also ends in –ήσω.

ἐθέλω, ἐθελήσω want (alternative form: θέλω, θελήσω)

μέλλω, μελλήσω intend, be about to, be going to

εὑρίσκω, εὑρήσω find

μιμνήσκω, μνήσω remind

χαίρω, χαιρήσω be happy, say hello

δεῖ

While δεῖ can mean (s)he/it lacks, this form is frequently used IMPERSONALLY in the 3rd person singular to mean it is necessary. This construction is often complemented with an infinitive. For example:

  • δεῖ ταῦτα ποιεῖν. It is necessary to do these things.
  • νόμοι εἰσὶ καθ’ οὓς δεῖ τοὺς θεοὺς τιμᾶν. There are customs according to which it is necessary to honor the gods.

 

δοκεῖ

While δοκεῖ can mean (s)he/it seems, this form is frequently used IMPERSONALLY in the 3rd person singular to mean it seems (good). This construction is often complemented with a dative. For example:

  • ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ It seems to me (i.e. I think)…
  • δοκεῖ τῇ βουλῇ καὶ τῷ δήμῳ It seems best to the Boule and Demos (i.e., It is decreed by the Boule and Demos)

 

 

άω Contract Verbs

Present Active Indicative

The next most common type of contraction in verbs involves –α. These verbs contract with thematic vowels in a similar fashion to έω verbs, though with some differences:

αω = ω
αει =
αο = ω
αε = α (long)
αου = ω

The Present Indicative Active of ἐρωτάω (cf. S 385; GPH p. 101).

(ἐρωτάω →) ἐρωτῶ  I ask

(ἐρωτάομεν →) ἐρωτῶμεν we ask

(ἐρωτάεις →) ἐρωτᾷς you ask

(ἐρωτάετε →) ἐρωτᾶτε you all ask

(ἐρωτάει →) ἐρωτᾷ (s)he, it asks

(ἐρωτάουσι →) ἐρωτῶσι they ask

Present infinitive active: (ἐρωτάειν →) ἐρωτᾶν

Note that for the present infinitive, the anticipated form, ἐρωτᾷν, has dropped the iota subscript in its actual form. It is as though Greek speakers dropped the ι of the –ειν infinitive ending before the contraction. Whether this also happened in –έω present infinitives is difficult to tell; both ε + ειν and ε + εν = εῖν. But note the infinitive of –όω verbs, below.

 

Future Active Indicative

The FUTURE TENSE of most άω verbs is formed regularly, with one slight change. When the tense marker σ is added to a verb stem ending in –α, the α lengthens to η. Like έω verbs, most (not all!) άω verbs form their future active by adding –σω to the lengthened vowel, resulting in the ending –ήσω. Classical Greek, however, lengthens α to long α (not η) if the lengthened α is directly preceded by an ε, ι, or ρ. The future tense then conjugates regularly, using –ω personal and infinitive endings.

Note, for example, the PRINCIPAL PARTS of the following άω verbs.

ἀγαπάω -ήσω love

δράω, δράσω do

ἐάω, ἐάσω allow

ἐρωτάω -ήσω ask

ζάω, ζήσω live

νικάω -ήσω conquer, defeat

ὁρμάω -ήσω hurry

πειράω, πειράσω try, attempt

τελευτάω, τελευτήσω finish, die

τιμάω -ήσω honor

τολμάω -ήσω dare

Conjugating  ζάω

All άω verbs encountered in this lesson conjugate regularly, with the exception of ζάω “live.” This verb is one of a handful – most rarely encountered – that show η where we would expect long α after contraction (S 394). This is because the α of the verb stem for ζάω is already long before contraction, not short like the vast majority of άω verbs. Note the following (S 395; GPH p. 106):

(ζάω →) ζῶ  I live

(ζάομεν →) ζῶμεν we live

(ζάεις →) ζῇς you live

(ζάετε →) ζῆτε you all live

(ζάει →) ζῇ (s)he, it lives

(ζάουσι →) ζῶσι they live

Present infinitive active: (ζάειν →) ζῆν

 

όω Contract Verbs

Present Active Indicative

The least common type of contraction in verbs involves –ο, where the contractions are:

οω = ω
οει = οι
οο = ου
οε = ου
οου = ου

The Present Indicative Active of δηλόω (cf. S 385; GPH p. 118).

(δηλόω →) δηλῶ  I show

(δηλόομεν →) δηλοῦμεν we show

(δηλόεις →) δηλοῖς you show

(δηλόετε →) δηλοῦτε you all show

(δηλόει →) δηλοῖ (s)he, it shows

(δηλόουσι →) δηλοῦσι they show

Present infinitive active: (δηλόειν →) δηλοῦν

Note that for the present infinitive, the anticipated form, δηλοῖν, is not the actual form. As with the άω verbs, Greek speakers appear to have dropped the ι of the –ειν ending before the contraction, resulting in δηλοῦν.

 

Future Active Indicative

The FUTURE TENSE of most όω verbs is formed regularly, with one slight change. When the tense marker σ is added to a verb stem ending in o, the o lengthens to ω. As a result, most όω verbs form their future active by adding –σω to the lengthened vowel, resulting in the ending –ώσω. The future tense then conjugates regularly, using –ω personal and infinitive endings.

Note the PRINCIPAL PARTS of the following όω verbs.

ἀξιόω -ώσω consider worthy, valuable

δηλόω -ώσω show

φανερόω -ώσω reveal

– τὸ τέλος –

 


Key Terms and Concepts

  • FIRST PRINCIPAL PART OF CONTRACT VERBS
  • έω CONTRACT VERBS
  • DISYLLABIC –έω CONTRACT VERBS
  • δεῖ
  • άω CONTRACT VERBS
  • CONJUGATING ζάω
  • όω CONTRACT VERBS

Vocabulary

έω Verbs

ἀδικέω -ήσω commit injustice

αἱρέω -ήσω grab

ἀναιρέω raise up

ἀφαιρέω take from, take away

αἰτέω -ήσω beg, ask

βοηθέω -ήσω help

δέω δεήσω lack, miss, be in need of (+ gen.)

δοκέω, δόξω think, suppose; seem

ζητέω -ήσω seek

κατηγορέω -ήσω accuse

κατοικέω -ήσω inhabit, settle

κινέω -ήσω move

κρατέω -ήσω rule over

λαλέω -ήσω talk, babble

μισέω -ήσω hate

οἰκέω -ήσω dwell

οἰκοδομέω -ήσω build

ὁμολογέω -ήσω agree

πλέω sail

ποιέω -ήσω do, make

πολεμέω -ήσω make war

σκοπέω -ήσω look at, watch; look into, consider, examine

φοβέω -ήσω frighten

φρονέω -ήσω think

 

Futures Similar to έω Verbs

ἐθέλω, ἐθελήσω want (alternative form: θέλω, θελήσω)

μέλλω, μελλήσω intend, be about to, be going to

εὑρίσκω, εὑρήσω find

μιμνήσκω, μνήσω remind

χαίρω, χαιρήσω be happy, say hello

 

άω Verbs 

ἀγαπάω -ήσω love

δράω, δράσω do

ἐάω, ἐάσω allow

ἐρωτάω -ήσω ask

ζάω, ζήσω live

νικάω -ήσω conquer, defeat

ὁρμάω -ήσω hurry

πειράω, πειράσω try, attempt

τελευτάω, τελευτήσω finish, die

τιμάω -ήσω honor

τολμάω -ήσω dare

 

όω Verbs

ἀξιόω -ώσω consider worthy, valuable

δηλόω -ώσω show

φανερόω -ώσω reveal

Exercises

Ι. For each of the following present tense contract verb endings, provide all possible uncontracted form(s) that could produce this result. For example, -οῦσι = (answer) -έουσι, -όουσι

  1. -ῶ
  2. -οῦσι
  3. -οῦμεν
  4. -ᾶτε
  5. -ᾷ
  6. -οῖς
  7. -οῖ
  8. -ῶμεν
  9. -εῖς
  10. -ῶσι
  11. -εῖτε
  12. -ᾷς
  13. -εῖ
  14. -οῦτε

ΙΙ. Conjugate both the UNCONTRACTED and CONTRACTED forms of the following verbs in full, including the infinitive, in the present active indicative.

  1. δοκέω
  2. νικάω
  3. ἀξιόω
  4. ζάω
  5. δέω

III. For each inflected verb form, provide the person and number. If it is an infinitive, simply identify it as such. Translate into English. Then provide the future form of the verb in the same person and number (or future infinitive). For example: λαλεῖτε = (answer) 2nd pers., plural/ you all babble/ λαλήσετε. κρατεῖν = (answer) infinitive/ to rule over/ κρατήσειν.

  1. ζῶμεν
  2. μισεῖς
  3. τιμᾶτε
  4. κινεῖν
  5. ἀγαπῶσιν
  6. οἰκῶ
  7. ὁμολογοῦσι
  8. δηλοῦν
  9. τολμᾷ
  10. φανεροῖς
  11. βοηθεῖτε
  12. δρᾶν

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Contract Verbs by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.