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18.122 Introduction to Participles

Participles are amazing! Participles have some of the features of verbs, and some of the features of nouns and adjectives. They are also absolutely essential in Greek. Although English uses participles in very limited ways, Greek uses participles with great frequency. It is extremely important for you to memorize all the present participles forms this week (next week, you will learn the aorist participle forms).

Participles and the world of verbs

Specifically, participles have aspect (present, aorist, or perfect) and they have voice (active, middle, or passive).

Croy is not quite correct to say that participles have tense. Participles have aspect, but they do not have tense. Unfortunately, Croy does not introduce the concept of aspect in this textbook, and this makes a bit of a muddle of his discussion of participles. It is important to know that participles do not have tense, because participles will never take augment.

You might want to review these notes about aspect before you proceed, just so you can remind yourself about what it means to speak about present aspect, aorist aspect, and perfect aspect (keeping in mind that present and aorist are far more important than the perfect). You might also want to review these notes about voice to remind yourself what it means to speak about active voice, middle voice, and passive voice.

Like verbs, participles can take objects, be modified by adverbs, and so on. Yet participles do not have all the features of verbs. Participles do not have person, they do not have tense, and they do not have mood (you will learn more about verb moods later in the semester).

In this chapter, you will learn the present active participles, and the present middle/passive participles.

Participles and the world of nouns

In addition to having some features of verbs, participles also have the features that you have seen with nouns and adjectives. Specifically, participles have gender (feminine, masculine, or neuter), number (singular or plural) and case (nominative, genitive, dative, or accusative).

Participles are verbal adjectives, which are able to modify nouns, allowing those nouns to express verbal action.

You also do not need to worry about Croy's distinction between adjectival and adverbial participles. All participles are adjectival, modifying a noun in a sentence, agreeing with that noun in gender, number, and case. Sometimes participles are substantive adjectives, so that they can effectively be considered as nouns. Just as you would expect from adjectives and nouns, every participle has gender, number, and case. Whenever you see a participle, you must be able to identify the gender, number, and case of the participle in order to understand its meaning.

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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