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Croy Index: Vocabulary - Prosody - Verbs - Nouns - Adjectives - Nominals - Other Topics - Syntax List

3.20 Accentuation of Nouns

Make sure you read through Croy's discussion of the accentuation of Greek nouns. Below you will also find some notes to help you understand the materials in this section.

As Croy explains, verb accent is recessive, meaning that the stress will be as far back away from the end of the word as possible. The farthest back that an accent can go is the antepenultimate syllable, but this is possible only when the final syllable is short. If the final syllable is long, then the verb is stressed on the penultimate syllable. This rules applies to all the verbs you have learned so far (although when you learn about "contract verbs" later on, you will find out that even this rule has a kind of twist you will have to learn!).

Noun stress is much more complex. Unlike verb stress, noun stress is persistent... and arbitrary. You simply have to memorize the stressed syllable with each noun that you study. There is no way to predict that! If a noun is stressed on the final syllable or the penultimate syllable: Because the stress is persistent, it will stay on the final syllable or on the penultimate syllable (except for the exceptional genitive plural ending of first declension nouns, as you learned this week). But when a noun has its stress on the antepenultimate syllable, life gets complicated - because whenever the ending changes to a long vowel, then the stress cannot remain on the antepenultimate and it must instead move forward to the penultimate.

Because you have to learn the stressed syllable for every noun that you study, you must make noise when you are learning this vocabulary. The only way to learn and remember where the accent goes is to hear the accent as you study the noun. Don't worry about the difference between acute, grave, or circumflex accents - just focus on the stressed syllable, and emphasizing the stressed syllable while you study your new Greek words.

Take a few moments and go back to review the first declension forms, paying special attention to the accent patterns for nouns that have antepenultimate stress. These are the nouns you really need to watch out for! Nouns that take antepenultimate stress in the nominative form are subject to shifting stress. Whenever the ending goes long, the stress cannot remain on the antepenultimate syllable and it moves to the penultimate syllable.

1st declension antepenultimate shift in genitive singular, dative singular, dative plural, accusative plural

[plus, note that the genitive plural ending is always stressed for the first declension feminine nouns]

Nominative ἀλήθεια ἀλήθειαι






Accusative ἀλήθειαν



Nominative θάλασσα θάλασσαι






Accusative θάλασσαν



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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