Saturday, September 30, 2023

The non-indicative forms of εἰμί, part 1: subjunctive, infinitive, imperative

Participles are also a non-indicative form, but they are used frequently enough to be covered in a separate post.

I find the subjunctive of εἰμί difficult in terms of spelling; the singular forms are entirely vowels.  All six forms (singular and plural, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person) are found in the New Testament. 

The proper translation of subjunctive forms is particularly dependent on context.  English makes a distinction between 'might' and 'should', for example; Greek, not so much.  In the New Testament, in practice, many (most?) of the subjunctive forms of εἰμί are translated by 'might be'.

Present subjunctive 


                               I could / should / might be

ᾖς                              you could / should / might be (sing.)

                                he/she/it could / should / might be

ὦμεν                          we could / should / might be

ἦτε                            you could / should / might be (pl.)

ὦσιν                          they could / should / might be



1  Generally, subjunctives contain lengthened vowels; specifically, here we find ω and η.  Notice, for example, the subjunctive 2-P ἦτε in comparison to the indicative 2-P ἐστέ.

2  However, this means that - again, in the case of εἰμί - present subjunctives with η may be confused with imperfect indicatives.  For example, the subjunctive ἦτε is identical in spelling to the imperfect indicative ἦτε, and the subjunctive ᾖς looks very similar to the imperfect ἦς.


There is only one infinitive for εἰμί: the present infinitive εἶναι.  It is a common form in the New Testament, used about 125 times.

There are no separate (one-word) infinitive forms in modern Greek, but είναι persists as the 3-S present indicative: he/she/it is.          


One convention to indicate an 2nd person imperative form in the context of a paradigm is to add '!', i.e., γράψον, 'write!'.  

____                     (no first person forms)

ἴσθι                      [you, sing.]  be!  

ἤτω / ἔστω          let him / her / it be   

____                    (no first person forms)

ἔστε                    [you, pl.]  be!

ἔστωσαν            let them be


1  The form ἔστω is considerably more common than ἤτω.


2  I can find no instances of ἔστε being used in the NT.  The form ἐστε or ἐστέ is common as the 2-P present indicative.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Acts 1:11, part 3


The entire verse, again:

οἳ καὶ εἶπαν Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι, τί ἑστήκατε βλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.

The final part of the verse reads:

οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν

There are three verbs:

The first is ἐλεύσεται, the 3-S, future middle indicative of ἔρχομαι, 'I come, I go'.  Remember that this irregular verb is deponent in the present and future systems, although not in the aorist.

The subject of ἐλεύσεται is understood to be Jesus from context.  The verb is introduced by οὕτως, an adverb meaning something like 'thus', 'in this way'.

So Jesus 'will thus come'.  In theory, ἔρχομαι can also mean 'I go', but is more commonly seen as 'I come'.    

The second is ἐθεάσασθε: 2-P, aorist middle indicative, θεάομαι - 'I see, look upon'

The second person plural indicates that the two men are still addressing 'you' - the apostles.  The apostles were looking at something.  

Αὐτόν is the direct object of this verb - 'you were looking at him', i.e., Jesus.

The two words ὃν τρόπον correspond to something like 'that manner, which manner'.  English translations almost always add 'the', and typically translate the phrase as 'in the same manner', although the King James avoids 'the' by reading 'in like manner'.

What manner are we talking about?  This requires that we look both forward and backward in the verse.  But before that makes sense, we need to look at the final verb and translate the remainder of the verse:

αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν

The third verb form is πορευόμενον, a masculine singular accusative, present middle/passive (deponent) participle of πορεύομαι, 'I go, I journey'.  It refers back to αὐτόν, and thus to Jesus, who went εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, 'into the sky'.

With ὃν τρόπον the writer is apparently talking about the manner that Jesus was taken up into heaven (ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν), which the apostles saw.

By this time, although the English ends up being fairly straightforward, the Greek may have gotten confusing. To recap:

        Jesus was taken up into the sky, from you.

        Jesus will come (back).

        Jesus will come back in the manner that you saw him.

        Jesus will come back in the manner that you saw him going into the sky.

And a rather rough final translation:

and they said, 'Galilean men, why do you stand looking into the sky?  This Jesus who was taken up from you into the sky thus will come / return in (the) manner you saw him going into the sky'

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Acts 1:11, part 2

 Here's the entire verse again:

οἳ καὶ εἶπαν Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι, τί ἑστήκατε βλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.

The two men have addressed the apostles, and asked them why they were standing there, looking into the sky.

The rest of the verse is still fairly long, and I am splitting the analysis into part 2 and part 3. Note, first, that it is continued direct speech from the two men to the apostles, and that there are four verb forms, indicating reasonably complicated remarks.

It might help to break this part of the verse into short phrases:

οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς

'This (the) Jesus' - all in the nominative, so it will need to be the subject of something.  English does not use 'the' with proper names; koine Greek sometimes does, and modern Greek almost always does, exceptive for the vocative.

ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν

We have another two nominatives.  The masculine singular article ὁ refers back to Jesus but also forward to ἀναλημφθείς, connecting the two.   

Ἀναλημφθείς is the masculine singular nominative form of the aorist passive participle of ἀναλαμβάνω, 'I take up, raise up'.  So Jesus was raised up ἀφ’ ὑμῶν - 'from you', the 'you' indicating the continuation of direct address. 

εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν

A straightforward prepositional phrase - 'into the sky / heaven'.  

For some reason, English says either 'into the sky' (singular, with article), 'into heaven' (singular, no article), or 'into the heavens' (plural, with article).  In this case, almost all English translations use 'into heaven', thus following the number of the Greek (singular), but not the presence of the article.

So far we have something like:

"this Jesus, who was taken up from you into the sky"

The remainder of the verse will be covered in part 3, together with a translation of the whole.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Conjugations: indicative forms of εἰμί

This is the first in a series of full conjugations of New Testament Verbs, eventually to be listed under 'Pages'.


1  Εἰμί ('I am') is irregular.  It has a present tense, a past tense, and future.  The past tense is considered to be an imperfect, by the sense of the verb.

2  There is no active/passive distinction for this verb.

3  Forms of the present indicative are enclitic, except for the second person singular εἶ.   They are given accents in paradigms by convention, to show where the accent goes when appropriate.

Present indicative 


εἰμί                             I am

εἶ                                 you are (sing.)

ἐστί(ν)                        he/she/it is

ἐσμέν                          we are

ἐστέ                            you are (pl.)

εἰσί(ν)                        they are


Imperfect indicative


ἤμην                            I was
ἦς / ἦσθα                    you were (sing.)

ἦν                                he/she/it was

ἦμεν / ἤμεθα               we were

ἦτε                              you were (pl.)

ἦσαν                           they were


Future indicative


ἔσομαι                        I will be

ἔσῃ                             you will be (sing.)

ἔσται                          he/she/it will be       

ἐσόμεθα                      we will be
ἔσεσθε                        you will be (pl.)       

ἔσονται                       they will be

Friday, September 15, 2023

Acts 1:11, part 1

A long verse.  In this post we'll look at the introductory phrase, and a question.

οἳ καὶ εἶπαν Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι, τί ἑστήκατε ἐμβλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναλημφθεὶς ἀφ' ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.

The first three words include the first verb:

 οἳ καὶ εἶπαν 

Εἶπαν - 'they said' - is a common form, used over 90 times in the New Testament.  It is the 3-P, aorist active indicative of . . . well, let's call it λέγω, as εἶπον is often listed as the third principal part (a second aorist) for that verb.  

The subject is οἵ, referring back to the two men in the previous verse.  This word can be thought of as a relative pronoun ('who said') or a personal pronoun ('they said'), depending on how it is rendered in English.

Then, a question:

 Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι, τί ἑστήκατε ἐμβλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν;

The capitalization of Ἄνδρες is by convention, indicating the beginning of direct speech.  In this case, the two men are addressing the apostles.

Γαλιλαῖοι is often, but not always, capitalized as well.  Γαλιλαῖος, Γαλιλαία, Γαλιλαῖον is an adjective ('coming from Galilee, person of Galilee'), and the capitalization is by the same convention that gives us 'Minnesotan' from 'Minnesota'. 

Τί introduces the question.  Τίς, τί, with an accent, is often an interrogative pronoun ('who? what?), but when introducing a question it can also be used adverbially, to mean 'why?'.  

The accent on τί never changes to the grave.  Without an accent (τις, τι), the same spelling is used as an indefinite pronoun.

There are two verb forms in the question.  Ἑστήκατε is 2-P, perfect active indicative of ἵστημι, 'I stand, I make stand'.  Note that the rough breathing in principal part 1 translates to the rough breathing in ἑστήκατε, indicating that the initial ε is not an augment.

Bλέποντες is a participle (masculine plural nominative, present active of βλέπω, 'I see') and completes the action introduced by ἑστήκατε:

why do you stand (ἑστήκατε) looking (βλέποντες)

The final part of the question is a straightforward prepositional phrase, explaining where the apostles are looking: εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, 'into the sky'.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Acts 1:10, part 2 - the two men

Here is the entire verse again: 

καὶ ὡς ἀτενίζοντες ἦσαν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν πορευομένου αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνδρες δύο παρειστήκεισαν αὐτοῖς ἐν ἐσθήσεσι λευκαῖς

The apostles have been (presumably) gazing at Jesus as he rises into the sky.  The final phrase introduces a new subject and verb:

καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνδρες δύο παρειστήκεισαν αὐτοῖς ἐν ἐσθήσεσι λευκαῖς

The verb* is παρειστήκεισαν, part of the complicated conjugation of the -μι verb παρίστιμι. Παρείστήκεισαν is a 3-P, active indicative of that rare beast, the pluperfect.

(This is the only use of the pluperfect of this particular verb in the New Testament.)

Παρίστιμι has an extensive and complicated set of meanings, but in the pluperfect it generally has an intransitive sense: 'I stand, I stand near, I am present'.

The subject of παρειστήκεισαν is 'ἄνδρες δύο', 'two men'.

So two men stood by them, the apostles.  'Them' is indicative by the dative plural of the personal pronoun: αὐτοῖς.  

The final words, ἐν ἐσθήσεσι λευκαῖς, are a prepositional phrase, describing something about the men - they are 'in clothing / apparel white'.

The feminine noun for clothing is the third declension ἐσθής, ἐσθῆτος, with ἐσθήσεσι being the dative plural.  This is the only time this word is used in the plural in the NT.

The adjective  λευκός, λευκή, λευκόν ('white') is the source for the English 'leukocyte' (white blood cell) and leukemia.

Here is a translation of the entire verse:

and as they were looking into the sky, he went, and - see - two men stood by them, in white clothing


*  I should note that there are actually two verbs in this phrase.  Ἰδού is properly a verb, although Thayer's Lexicon describes it as a 'demonstrative particle'.  It can be parsed as the 2-S, aorist middle imperative of ὁράω, keeping in mind that the conjugative complexities of the several ancient Greek verbs of seeing (Βλέπω!  Ὁράω!  Εἶδον!) are beyond easy explanation.  It has been used from Sophocles down to mean something like 'see!  look!' 

Friday, September 08, 2023

Acts 1:10, part 1; a periphrastic verb and another genitive absolute

καὶ ὡς ἀτενίζοντες ἦσαν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν πορευομένου αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνδρες δύο παρειστήκεισαν αὐτοῖς ἐν ἐσθήσεσι λευκαῖς

There are three actors in this verse:  (1) 'they' (the apostles, from previous context), (2) 'he' (Jesus, from previous context), and (3) 'two men'.  The last are newcomers on the scene.

We'll look at each of these, starting with the apostles.  What are they doing?

καὶ ὡς ἀτενίζοντες ἦσαν 

Ἀτενίζοντες is the masculine plural nominative, present active participle, of ἀτενίζω, 'I look intently, gaze'.  So the apostles were looking somewhere, or at something.

But we immediately run into another verb form : ἦσαν, the 3-P, imperfect indicative of εἰμί.  

This combination of a present participle and an imperfect form of εἰμί is a periphrastic verb form, or periphrasis.  It corresponds nicely with English usage ('they were gazing'), so should not cause too much confusion.

I've written about periphrasis at a bit more length previously: see it here

Now what is Jesus doing?

The basic action is expressed by a genitive absolute:  

πορευομένου αὐτοῦ  -  '(while) he was going'  

Πορευομένου is the masculine singular genitive, present middle/passive (deponent) participle of πορεύομαι, 'I go', 'I travel', 'I depart'.  As a singular form, along with αὐτοῦ, it cannot refer to the apostles.

Going where?

There is a slight ambiguity here, at least in grammar.  The prepositional phrase is

εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν

which means 'to / into the sky', but is it attached to the apostles' action, or to Jesus's?  In other words, are they looking up into the sky while Jesus goes . . . somewhere?  Or does he go up into the sky while the apostles are looking . . . somewhere?  

The clear sense seems to be that the prepositional phrase refers to both actions: they are watching the sky as Jesus goes up into the sky.

Almost all English translations that I have seen attach 'into heaven' more firmly to the gazing of the apostles, although the New Living Translation begins

As they strained to see him rising into heaven . . . 

In the next post, two men show up.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Typing in polytonic Greek, step 3: the key combinations

Let's start with an example.  You want to type the verb γράφω.

After enabling the Greek keyboard you type γ and ρ.  Now what?

To type an acute accent

    1  Make sure the Greek keyboard is enabled.

    2  Type the semi-colon / colon key (immediately to the right of 'L').  Nothing will seem to happen.

    3  Type the vowel needing the accent (in the case of γράφω, of course, an 'α').

Acute accents are probably the most frequent diacritic, but breathings are also common.  As a second example, here is how you would type the noun ἀδελφός:

To type a smooth breathing

        1  Greek keyboard.

        2  Type the apostrophe / quotes key (2 steps to the right of 'L').

        3  Type 'α'  =>  ἀ

        4  Finish typing the word, using the method for acute accents for the 'ο'.

Combinations (acute plus breathing, circumflex plus iota subscript, etc.) use a similar system, but a combination of keys must be entered in the proper order before each letter requiring those diacritics.  The list is below;  keep in mind that these combinations work for PCs but might not work for Macs.

Some combinations call for using 'shift', 'ctrl shift', 'ctrl alt', and so on.    

For example, to type a grave accent on an 'ε', the shift key must be held down while the apostrophe / quotes key is hit but then let up before the 'ε' is typed.

Or - to type an 'α' with both an acute accent and an iota subscript, the ctrl, alt, and q keys must be held down together, then let up and the 'α' typed.  

Note 1:  " means shift plus apostrophe,   ? means shift plus / , etc.

Note 2:  If left-alt doesn't work properly, try the right-alt.

Note 3:  The vowel 'α' is used as an example, except for the diaeresis combinations, which work for the vowels ι and υ.  These are the only vowels that take a diaeresis.  

acute accent                            ;      (followed by) vowel            ά

grave accent                                vowel            ὰ

circumflex accent                    [     vowel            ᾶ

smooth breathing                    '     vowel            ἀ    

rough breathing                       "    vowel            

iota subscript                            {    vowel            ᾳ

diaeresis                                    :     vowel            ϊ, ϋ

acute accent, smooth breathing         /    vowel        ἄ

acute accent, rough breathing           ?     vowel        ἅ

grave accent, smooth breathing        \    vowel        ἂ

grave accent, rough breathing           |    vowel        ἃ

circumflex and smooth                        =    vowel       

circumflex and rough                           +    vowel       

acute and iota subscript        ctrl alt q      vowel       ᾴ

grave and iota subscript       ctrl alt  ]       vowel       ᾲ

circumflex and iota sub.       ctrl alt  [        vowel      ᾷ 

smooth, iota subscript          ctrl alt '        vowel      ᾀ

rough, iota subscript             ctrl alt "       vowel      ᾁ

acute, smooth, iota sub.        ctrl alt /       vowel     ᾄ

acute, rough, iota sub.           ctrl alt ?      vowel    ᾅ

grave, smooth, iota sub.        ctrl alt \     vowel     ᾂ

grave, rough, iota sub.          ctrl alt  |     vowel     ᾃ

circum., smooth, iota sub.     ctrl alt =      vowel    ᾆ

circum., rough, iota sub.        ctrl alt +      vowel    ᾇ

diaeresis and acute*                 `                 ι or υ     ΐ, ΰ      

diaeresis and grave*                  ~               ι or υ     ῒ,  ῢ  


*  On my keyboard these two symbols (the backtick and the tilde) are located immediately to the left of '1'.                                                        

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Typing in Greek, step 2: keyboard layout

Once you have enabled polytonic Greek on your system you should be able to switch back and forth from English to Greek.  If your computer is like mine, you will see 'ENG' (English) over on the right side of your taskbar, next to the icons for internet access, battery life, etc.

To switch:  Either click and pull down from 'ENG' to 'ΕΛ', or use the Windows + Space bar combination to toggle back and forth.

Many Greek letters correspond easily to English:  'α' is 'a', for example.  But some do not.  Here is the usual keyboard layout:

Note one troublesome spot:  U / u is not Υ / υ (upsilon).  U is θ (theta).  Y / y is Υ / υ (upsilon).

I have included the semi-colon for 'Q'.  The semi-colon is used instead of '?' when typing a question in Greek.

Next time, step 3:  The key combinations for breathings, accents, and so on.