A selection from 190 ostraka, mostly the bases of drinking cups, all inscribed with the name of Themistokles son of Neokles, the architect of Athenian naval power. 472 B.C. Athenian Agora Excavations.

Four Common Greek Verbs

1. Give, Put, Throw

Most –μι verbs have a FIRST AORIST. For example, the verb to say is φημί, φήσω, ἔφησα. Some of the most common –μι verbs, however, are not formed in the first aorist. The verb εἰμί has no aorist at all!

Other –μι verbs have their own peculiarities. The verbs δίδωμιτίθημι, and ἵημι, for example, share the following characteristics:

  • They are FIRST AORISTS in the singular, with –κα replacing –σα.
  • They are SECOND AORISTS in the plural and infinitive; the long stem vowel becomes short, as in the present and imperfect tense.
  • They form their INFINITIVES by adding –εναι, which contracts with the short stem vowel (S 760). For example:
    • δό-εναι → δοῦναι
    • θέ-εναι θεῖναι
    • ἕ-εναι εἷναι

The principal parts, as a result, now look like this:

  • δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα (stem: δω/δο-)
  • τίθημι, θήσω, ἔθηκα (stem: θη/θε-)
  • ἵημι, ἥσω, ἧκα (stem: /-)


The Aorist, Indicative, Active of δίδωμι (S 416; GPH p. 129)







Aorist Indicative Active Infinitive: δοῦναι


The Aorist, Indicative, Active of τίθημι (S 416; GPH p. 151)







Aorist Indicative Active Infinitive: θεῖναι


The Aorist, Indicative, Active of ἵημι (S 777)







Aorist Indicative Active Infinitive: εἷναι

Notice that, in the singular, ἵημι uses -, as it does in the present tense, and also adds a –κα– marker. In the plural and infinitive, ἵημι uses εἱ– (for ἑμεν, κτλ.; S 756).

In general, and particularly in the plural, the aorist forms of  ἵημι are more commonly found with prefixes than as stand-alone verbs.


2. Stand

Note the principal parts of another common Greek –μι verb, stand. This verb has both a FIRST and ATHEMATIC SECOND AORIST form! Note also that, unlike the previous three verbs, this verb keeps its long stem vowel throughout the singular and plural.

  • ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα/ἔστην (stem: στη/στα-)


The Second Aorist, Indicative, Active of ἵστημι (S 416; GPH p. 140)







Second Aorist Indicative Active Infinitive: στῆναι


The First Aorist, Indicative, Active of ἵστημι







First Aorist Indicative Active Infinitive: στῆσαι


Verbs with First and Second Aorist Forms

When a verb has both types of aorist, it is often the case that the FIRST AORIST is TRANSITIVE, and the SECOND AORIST is INTRANSITIVE. For example:

  • ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα/ἔστην stand
    • ἔστησα I stood (something) up.
    • ἔστην I stood up
  • φύω, φύσω, ἔφυσα/ἔφυν produce, grow
    • ἔφυσα I grew (something).
    • ἔφυν I grew.


Aorist Passive

1. Formation

As we discussed earlier, in early Greek there were no distinct PASSIVE forms in the PRESENT tense. Instead, the MIDDLE endings were used also for the PASSIVE when the need arose. The AORIST, however, is one of the few tenses for which distinct PASSIVE endings developed. These forms always conjugate like a regular –μι verb.

To form the aorist passive, the following formula is used:

  • + verb stem + θη + athematic secondary endings

If adding –θη– is too hard to pronounce, only –η– is added. Advanced vocabulary lists, as well as Greek lexica, provide six principal parts for Greek verbs, and the AORIST PASSIVE is the SIXTH PRINCIPAL PART. Generally speaking, however, the aorist passive is easy to recognize and parse because of its distinctive –θη– marker and regular personal endings.


The Aorist, Indicative, Passive of λύω (S 383; GPH p. 88)







Aorist Indicative Passive Infinitive: λυθῆναι


2. Use

Although this form is known as the AORIST PASSIVE, it in fact evolved in meaning over the centuries. In Classical Greek, the passive voice appears much less frequently than it does in English or later Greek. Ιn fact, in the earliest Greek, the form is almost always intransitive (as if in the middle voice):

  • δεινὼ δέ οἱ ὄσσε φάανθεν
    • and her eyes (οἱ ὄσσε) appeared (φάανθενawesome (δεινὼ). Homer Iliad 1.200

By the time of Koine Greek, the form is used frequently in passive constructions.

  • Active: ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ θεός.
    • God gave us eternal life. 1 John 5:11
  • Passive: ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη.
    • The law was given through Moses. John 1:17

Intransitive uses continue as well, however, and in fact some verbs only use the aorist passive intransitively:

  • Καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν ἕκαστος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ, Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐπορεύθη εἰς τὸ Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν.
    • And each went to his own home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Jn 7:53-8:1

Context within a sentence helps to translate the voice of the AORIST PASSIVE form. A rule of thumb is to look for a GENITIVE OF AGENT following ὑπό.

Note the following examples:

  • τὸ βιβλίον ὑπὸ τοῦ ποιητοῦ γράφεται.
    • The book is being written by the poet.
  • τὸ βιβλίον ὑπὸ τοῦ ποιητοῦ ἐγράφη.
    • The book was written by the poet.
    • The aorist passive of γράφω has dropped the θ, but otherwise declines normally: ἐγράφηνἐγράφης, ἐγράφη, κτλ.
  • αἱ πόλεις ὑπὸ τῶν Περσῶν λύονται
    • The cities are being destroyed by the Persians…
  • αἱ πόλεις ὑπὸ τῶν Περσῶν ἐλύθησαν
    • The cities were destroyed by the Persians…


– τὸ τέλος –


Paradigms, Key Terms and Concepts

  • Chapter Paradigms
  • GENITIVE OF AGENT following ὑπό


Four Common -μι Verbs

  • δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα give
  • τίθημι, θήσω, ἔθηκα put, make
  • ἵημι, ἥσω, ἧκα throw
  • ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα/ἔστην stand

Passive Aorist Form as Intransitive

  • βούλομαι, βουλήσομαι, ἐβουλήθην want, prefer
  • δύναμαι, δυνήσομαι, ἐδυνήθην be able, can

Mixed Stems

  • ἄγω, ἄξω, ἤγαγον lead, bring, pass (time)
  • αἱρέω, αἱρήσω, εἷλον (stem ἑλ-) take, grasp; (mid.) choose
  • ἔρχομαι, ἐλεύσομαι, ἦλθον (stem ἐλθ-) come, go
  • ἔχω, ἕξω and σχήσω, ἔσχον (imperfect: εἶχον) (stem σχ-) have, hold, be
  • λέγω, ἐρῶ, εἶπον (stem ἐπ-) say, speak, report
  • ὁράω, ὄψομαι, εἶδον (stem ἰδ-) see
  • πάσχω, πείσομαι, ἔπαθον suffer, experience
  • φέρω, οἴσω, ἤνεγκα/ἤνεγκον (stem ἐνεγκ-) carry, bring


Ι. You have been given the first three principal parts of the following verbs. The third principal part provides us with the Aorist, Indicative, Active (or Passive), 1st Person, Singular. Using the third principal part, conjugate (i.e., write out in all persons and numbers) each of the verbs in the Aorist, Indicative, Active (or Passive, if required), including the infinitive:

  1. τίθημι, θήσω, ἔθηκα put, make
  2. ἄγω, ἄξω, ἤγαγον lead, bring, pass (time)
  3. ἔρχομαι, ἐλεύσομαι, ἦλθον (stem ἐλθ-) come, go
  4. δύναμαι, δυνήσομαι, ἐδυνήθην be able, can

ΙΙ. Review and memorize the vocabulary for this lesson. Then download the master list of common Greek verbs, available here: Greek Verb List. Note that verbs that end in the same stem vowel or consonant tend to form their aorists the same way. For example, verbs whose stems end in -υ tend to have a regular first aorist. For the following verb stem families, write out the tendency that each has when forming their aorist.

e.g. Contract Verbs: -έω:   first aorists in -ησα

  1. Stems in –δ/ζ/θ
  2. Contract Verbs: -άω
  3. Stems in -γ, -κ, -χ, and -ττ
  4. Thematic Aorists (for these, what do the 1st Principal Parts tend to have in common?)
  5. Contract Verbs: -όω
  6. Stems in –π/β/φ
  7. Stems in –λ/ν/ρ

III. For the following verbs, 1). Provide the first three principal parts, 2). Provide the appropriate aorist infinitive; and 3). Change from the aorist tense to the present and imperfect tenses, in the same person(s) and number(s).

Note 1 : All verbs can be found on the Greek Verb List

Note 2: For all verbs with a middle first principal part (e.g. ἔρχομαι or βούλομαι), do not give the imperfect tense. We learn the imperfect middle endings a bit later.

e.g.: ἔδωκε:   δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα;   δοῦναι;   δίδωσι;   ἐδίδου

  1. ἔμνησαν
  2. ἔστημεν
  3. ἧκε
  4. ἦλθον
  5. ἐβουλήθητε
  6. εἷλες
  7. ἔπαθε
  8. ἔδοσαν
  9. ἠνέγκομεν
  10. ἔστησα


Judith 10:14-22: AGE Ch. 32a.

Lysias 12.39-42: AGE Ch. 32b.



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