Koine Greek: Participles

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Pariticiples in Koine Greek


A participle is a word that has both the properties of a verb and a noun. In English, participles are typically formed by adding ing to the stem of a verb (for example: eating).

For example, Matthew 21:22 the word πιστευοντες is translated as believing

και παντα οσα αν αιτησητε εν τη προσευχη πιστευοντες λημψεσθε
All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."


A participle may be used in either an adjectival or an adverbial sense.

Adjectival Use

If the participle has an adjectival function in the sentence, it usually is preceded by a matching definite article (matching in gender, case and number). It may be used either attributively or substantively. When used attributively, it will have a matching noun (matching in gender, case and number).

An adjectival participle is usually translated by adding the word "who" or "which" before the participle. For example

  • In John 11:27, ο εις τον κοσμον ερχομενος can be translated as who has come into the world (literal: the into the world coming)
λεγει αυτω ναι κυριε εγω πεπιστευκα οτι συ ει ο χριστος ο υιος του θεου ο εις τον κοσμον ερχομενος
She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God's Son, he who comes into the world."
  • In Galatians 1:23, ο διωκων' can be translated as he who persecuted (literal: the persecuting)
μονον δε ακουοντες ησαν οτι ο διωκων ημας ποτε νυν ευαγγελιζεται την πιστιν ην ποτε επορθει
but they only heard: "He who once persecuted us now preaches the faith that he once tried to destroy."

Adverbial Use

If the participle has an adverbial function in the sentence, it will never have a definite article.

An adverbial participle can be translated by adding the word "while" (or "after" if it's tense is Aorist). For example

  • In Mark 1:5, εξομολογουμενοι can be translated as while confessing (literal: confessing)
και εξεπορευετο προς αυτον πασα η ιουδαια χωρα και οι ιεροσολυμιται παντες και εβαπτιζοντο υπ αυτου εν τω ιορδανη ποταμω εξομολογουμενοι τας αμαρτιας αυτων
All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.


In Koine Greek, participles are formed by adding to and changing the stem of verbs - there are dozens of forms for each word.

A participle has the following features

  • Tense
  • Voice
  • Gender
  • Case
  • Number

Deponent verbs are also deponent participles.

Present Active Participle

Using λεγω (I speak) as an example, the translation for its present active participle is speaking. Alternatively, if being used adjectivally, the translation may be who is speaking, and if being translated adverbially, the translation may be while speaking

A present tense partciple matches the tense of the main verb, that is, the participle is occurring at the same time as the main verb. So, if the main verb is aorist, then the participle λεγων would be translated as "while he was speaking" rather than "while he is speaking.

Masculine Paradigm

  • λεγων (Nom, Sing)
  • λεγοντος (Gen, Sing)
  • λεγοντι (Dat, Sing)
  • λεγοντα (Acc, Sing)
  • λεγοντες (Nom, Plur)
  • λεγοντων (Gen, Plur)
  • λεγουσιν (Dat, Plur)
  • λεγοντας (Acc, Plur)

Feminine Paradigm

  • λεγουσα
  • λεγουσνς
  • λεγουση
  • λεγουσαν
  • λεγουσαι
  • λεγουσων
  • λεγουσαις
  • λεγουσας

Neuter Paradigm

  • λεγον
  • λεγοντος
  • λεγοντι
  • λεγον
  • λεγοντα
  • λεγοντων
  • λεγουσιν
  • λεγοντα

Present Middle and Passive Participle

Aorist Active Participle

Using λυω (I loose or destroy) as an example, the translation for its aorist active participle is having destroyed. Alternatively, if being used adjectivally, the translation may be who has destroyed, and if being translated adverbially, the translation may be after [he] had destroyed or when [he] had destroyed

From this it can be seen that the aorist participle describes the action having occurred prior to the main verb. So if the main verb is present, then the participle, λυσας would be translated as past tense.

First Aorist

If the aorist stem is the same as the present stem, then the verb is a first aorist verb. When forming the participle, the aorist stem is used with a sigma and specific ending added. Note that no augment is added. The following paradigm is used for first aorist verbs.

Masculine paradigm

  • λυσας (Nom, Sing)
  • λυσαντος (Gen, Sing)
  • λυσαςτι (Dat, Sing)
  • λυσαντα (Acc, Sing)
  • λυσαντες (, Plu)
  • λυσαντων (Gen, Plu)
  • λυσασι (Dat, Plu)
  • λυσαντας (Acc, Plu)

Feminine paradigm

Neuter paradigm

Second Aorist

If the aorist stem is different from the present stem (i.e. the verb is irregular) then the aorist stem is used, but the present endings are used. For example, the verb ερχομαι (I come) is irregular, with the aorist principle part as ηλθον (I came). Hence this is a second aorist verb, and the aorist, active, nominative, masculine, singular form is ελθων (not ελθσας - which doesn't exist). Note that the augment of ηλθον is removed in ελθων.

Aorist Middle Participle

Aorist Passive Participle

The Aorist Passive Participle is formed using the Aorist stem, without an Augment, and adding a θ plus a specific ending. It is translated as "having been verb+ed".

Masculine Paradigm

  • θεις
  • θεντος
  • θεντι
  • θεντα
  • θεντες
  • θεντων
  • θεισιν
  • θεντας

Neuter Paradigm

Feminine Paradigm

Genitive Absolute

When a participle refers to a new subject that is not related to the main verb, then the subject is placed next to the participle in the genitive case.

For example in the sentence "τοῦ δεσπότου κελεύσαντος, οἱ δοῦλοι ἢργαζον" (after the master has ordered it, the slaves begin to work) the noun "τοῦ δεσπότου" is in the genitive case showing that it is the subject of κελεύσαντος.



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