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78 Particles; Adverbs; Defective Verbs

2012.27.0084 (8-209)

A polished or worn field stone used as a weight measuring διστά(τερον), or two staters. ca. 500 B.C. Athenian Agora Excavations.

Vocabulary Wrap-Up

In the lesson, we wrap up some essential vocabulary, including:
  • particles
  • question and answer words
  • adverbs
  • defective verbs


One part of speech that is pervasive in much of Greek is the PARTICLE. Particles are words that have a grammatical function, but have little meaning on their own. In other words, while nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs all have specific lexical – or dictionary – meanings, particles express grammatical relationships. For example, in English, the word to is often used as a preposition: I am going to the store. But the word to when used as part of an English infinitive – to go – is not a preposition, but a particle that grammatically marks the verb go as an infinitive.

Greek uses many more particles than written English. Many of these Greek particles act essentially as sentence adverbs, serving either as sign posts that mark the underlying grammatical sentence structure, or providing an emotional emphasis to a word, clause, or sentence that expresses the mood or attitude of the writer. These particles provide a subtle and rich character to Greek that can sometimes be difficult to express in formal written English (S 2771). These particles often are best captured, in fact, in spoken English through the use of pitch, pauses, stress, and “spoken English” particles. For example, consider the “spoken English” particles alright and well in the following English sentences. What mood or attitude does each “spoken English” particle give to its respective sentence?

  • Alright, let’s go to movies.
  • Well, I didn’t do my Greek homework, yet, so maybe not.


The conjunctions μέν and μένδέ are particles. Other particles include:

  • αὖ “on the other hand…”
  • γε intensifies and sharpens the word(s) before it
  • δή literally “now!” but more generally emphatic
  • emphasizes the particle that follows
  • καίτοι marks a transition, restatement or conclusion
  • μέντοι postpositive “of course” (emphatic in replies); “however” (in a transition)
  • μήν follows a particle that it emphasizes
  • νῦν, νυνί ”now” “as it is now…”
  • οὐκοῦν sets up an expectation to agree
  • πέρ enclitic, an emphatic suffix following relatives and conjunctions


Questions and Answers

  • ἆρα This word has no independent meaning: it simply turns a statement into a yes/no question.
  • πότε when?
  • ποῦ where?
  • πῶς how?
  • πότερον whether
  • ναί  yes
  • μάλιστα definitely yes
  • οὔ no



You have already encountered adverbs created from adjectives. Additional adverbs are as follows:
  • ἀεί always
  • ἄνω up
  • ἄρτι now
  • αὖθις again
  • αὐτίκα immediately
  • εἶτα then, next
  • ἐκεῖ there
  • ἔνθα there
  • ἐνταῦθα here, there
  • ἔπειτα then, next
  • ἔτι still
  • εὖ well
  • εὐθύς immediately
  • ἤδη already
  • μάλα very, very much
  • μάλιστα most, most of all, certainly
  • μᾶλλον more, rather
  • οὐκέτι no longer
  • πάλιν back, backwards
  • πάντοτε always, at all times
  • πλέον more, rather
  • πολλάκις often
  • ποτε sometime
  • που somewhere
  • πρίν before, until; formerly
  • τότε then



Some adverbs also function like prepositions:

  • ἅμα together with (+dat.)
  • ἄνευ without, except, besides (+gen.)
  • ἄχρι(ς) until (+gen.)
  • ἕνεκα because of (+gen.)
  • ἔξω outside of (+gen.)
  • μεταξύ between (+gen.)
  • μέχρι as far as (+ gen.)
  • ὁπίσω behind, after (+gen.)
  • πλήν except (+gen.)
  • χωρίς separately, without (+gen.)



  • ἵνα where; purpose: so that, in order that
  • μέχρι until
  • ὅπου where, wherever
  • ὅπως how; purpose: so that, in order that
  • ὥστε result: so that

Defective Verbs

It may seem striking to consider the possible number of inflections that a Greek verb may undergo to reflect all possible tenses. It is perhaps more striking, however, that NO Greek verb was ever inflected in every possible tense (S 362). That said, some verbs are particularly irregular or defective. lacking in some tenses. The following DEFECTIVE VERBS do not have one or more of the first three principal parts.
  • —–, βιώσομαι, ἐβίων live
  • εἶμι go
  • —–, ἐρήσομαι, ἠρόμην ask
  • ἥκω, ἥξω have arrived, be present (this verb has a perfect active stem and perfect meaning, but it conjugates just as a regular –ω verb).
  • κεῖμαι lie (this verb serves as the perfect passive of τίθημι in the sense of to have been put somewhere).
  • οἴομαι or οἶμαι (parenthetical) I think
  • χρή it is necessary



The verb εἶμι is formed from the stem -/εἰ-. As often with –μι verbs, the singular shows the long vowel sound (εἰ) and the plural has the short vowel sound (). When inflected in the present tense, it usually is future tense in meaning: I will go (S 774). To express I go in the present tense, ἔρχομαι is used.


The Present Indicative Active of εἶμι (S 773; GPH p. 175)







infinitive: ἰέναι

imperative: ἴθι

participle: ἰών ἰοῦσα ἰόν


The Imperfect Indicative Active of εἶμι (S 773; GPH p. 175)

ᾖα or ᾔειν


ᾔεισθα or ᾔεις


ᾔειν or ᾔει

ᾖσαν or ᾔεσαν


– τὸ τέλος –



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