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Bible Grammar, Free and Paid Bible Resources,and More

 Greek Verb Tenses, Voices, and Moods

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The present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time.  In most cases this corresponds directly with the English present tense.

Some phrases which might be rendered as past tense in English will often occur in the present tense in Greek.  These are termed “historical presents,” and such occurrences dramatize the event described as if the reader were there watching the event occur.  Some English translations render such historical presents in the English past tense, while others permit the tense to remain in the present.


The imperfect tense generally represents continual or repeated action in the past. Where the present tense might indicate “they are asking,” the imperfect would indicate “they kept on asking.”


The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time.  There is no direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations.


The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. Though it is an action completed in the past its impact or results are continuing in the present.


The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action.  e.g., in the sentence, “The boy hit the ball,” the boy performs the action.


The middle voice indicates the subject performing an action upon himself (reflexive action) or for his own benefit.  E.g., “The boy groomed himself.”  Many verbs which occur only in middle voice forms are translated in English as having an active sense; these are called “deponent” verbs, and do not comply with the normal requirements for the middle voice.


The passive voice represents the subject as being the recipient of the action.  E.g., in the sentence, “The boy was hit by the ball,” the boy receives the action.


The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact.  If an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be rendered in the indicative mood.


The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility and potentiality.  The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances.  Conditional sentences of the third class (“ean” + the subjunctive) are all of this type, as well as many commands following conditional purpose clauses, such as those beginning with “hina.”


The imperative mood corresponds to the English imperative, and expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding.  Thus, Jesus’ phrase, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” #Mr 1:15 is not at all an “invitation,” but an absolute command requiring full obedience on the part of all hearers.


The Greek infinitive mood in most cases corresponds to the English infinitive, which is basically the verb with “to” prefixed, as “to believe.”

Like the English infinitive, the Greek infinitive can be used like a noun phrase (“It is better to live than to die”), as well as to reflect purpose or result (“This was done to fulfil what the prophet said”).


The Greek participle corresponds for the most part to the English participle, reflecting “- ing” or “- ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form. The participle can be used either like a verb or a noun or an adjective, as in English, and thus is often termed a “verbal noun.”



Hiphil usually expresses the “causative” action of Qal

Qal                Hiphil

he ate             he caused to eat, he fed

he came            he caused to come, he brought

he reigned         he made king, he crowned


This form primarily expresses a “reflexive” action of Qal or Piel

Qal                Hithpael

he wore            he dressed himself

he washed         he washed himself

he fell             he flung himself, he fell upon, he attacked

he sold            he sold himself, he devoted himself



This is a passive form of the Hithpael, indicating a passive intensive reflexive receiving of action upon the subject.  It thus combines the features of both the Hithpael and the Hophal.


Niphal is the “passive” of Qal

Qal                    Niphal

he saw                 he was seen, he appeared

he saw the angel       the angel was seen

he sent                he was sent

he created             it was created


Piel usually expresses an “intensive” or “intentional” action.

Qal                  Piel

he broke             he broke to pieces, he smashed

he sent              he sent away, he expelled


Pual is the “passive” of Piel

Piel            Pual

he smashed      it was smashed

he told         it was told


Qal is the most frequently used verb pattern. It expresses the “simple” or “causal” action of the root in the active voice.


he sat, he ate, he went, he said, he rose, he bought

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Scripture 4 all is a superb Hebrew and Greek Interlinear, and it’s free.  a technical Greek word search engine The Christian Ethereal library. The best of the best Christian writers all in one place.

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