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You will find that Greek uses less punctuation than English does. Most notably, Greek does not use quotation marks. However, there are Greek equivalents for other kinds of punctuation that you are used to: the full stop (period), along with a major pause (semicolon) and a minor pause (comma), along with a question mark.

What will probably be confusing for you at first is that the Greek question mark is the same as our semicolon!

Here is the Greek punctuation system:

full stop:
Ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς. Jesus wept.
major pause:
raised dot
Μετανοιεῖτε· ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is near.
minor pause:
Νεανίσκε, σοὶ λέγω. Young man, I am speaking to you.
question mark:
Τίς ἐστιν ἡ μήτηρ μου; Who is my mother?
quotation marks: not used in Greek texts (see notes below)
exclamation marks: not used in Greek texts (but Greek "particles" can express the same idea; you will learn about particles later)

About quotations. In the absence of quotation marks, there are some editorial conventions that can help you to recognize a quotation. First, a quotation inside a sentence may begin with a capital letter, just like in English. Notice also that there is an acute accent, instead of a grave accent, on the word immediately preceding the beginning of the quotation (as in the first example below: θεός). The fact that there is an acute accent, even though it is not the formal end of the sentence, means that there is a major break here. Not all Greek texts follow this same convention, but you can often use these clues to help you identify the direct quotation in the text, even without quotation marks:

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός Γενηθήω φῶς.

And God said, Let there be light.

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Κύριε, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε.

And he says to him, Lord, you know that I love you.

Punctuation variation. You may find that some Greek texts do use quotations marks, and others may use a conventional English semicolon instead of the raised dot to indicate a major pause. Some Greek texts use lots of commas, and some use them sparingly. The important thing to remember is that the punctuation is almost all added by modern editors! So please do not consider the punctuation of any Greek text to be something decided on absolutely once and for all. There is almost always room to discuss and debate about how a text should be punctuated.

OKAY! Now that you know all the letters and breathing marks and accent marks and punctuation marks in Greek (congratulations!!!), you are ready for some Practice Bible Passages for you to read out loud and to practice copying in Greek!

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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