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

18.125 Syntax of the Participle

Please read Croy section 125, but do not worry about the different categories that Croy is proposing here. His entire discussion is geared around the problems posed by English translation.

In terms of the grammar of the Greek, Croy's categories are not important. All Greek participles are functioning either as adjectives or nouns in any sentence in which they appear. As adjectives, they can agree in gender, number, and case with another noun in the sentence. Alternatively the participle can function substantively, serving as a noun all on its own.

Although Croy provides many different translation strategies, there are two strategies that you can use which will never fail you.

Strategy #1: Translate participle as verb. If the participle serves as the subject of the main verb or is modifying the subject of the main verb, you can translate the participle as if it were a verb, connecting it with the word "and" to the main verb(s) in the sentence. For example:

καταβαίνων πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ὁ ἀνὴρ ἔφερεν πλοῖον.
The man went down to the sea and carried a boat.

This is an awkward translation but it conveys the main idea which is conveyed in the Greek. The man is the subject of two verbal actions: going down to the sea and carrying a boat. And your main goal here should not be about the subtle variations in English translation. The main idea should be to understand what the Greek is telling you - and the Greek tells you that the main is the subject of two verbal actions. For purely stylistic reasons in the Greek, one of those verbal actions is expressed as a participle (going down) and the other is expressed as a finite verb (he carried).

Strategy #2: Translate participle as relative clause. You can always translate a participle in Greek as a relative clause in English. This is an especially good strategy for sentences where the participle is modifying a noun that is not the subject of the main verb of the sentence, although you can actually use this strategy for any participle.

εἴδομεν τὴν γυναῖκα ἐσθίουσαν ἄρτον μετὰ τῶν τέκνων.
We saw the woman who was eating bread with the children.

καταβαίνων πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ὁ ἀνὴρ ἔφερεν πλοῖον.
The man who went down to the sea carried a boat.

Of course, you have an enormous amount of freedom in the English translation. The purpose of this course, however, is not to teach you about English style, but about Greek grammar. For the purposes of Greek grammar, remember that all participles function as nouns or adjectives. Croy's discussion of particples as adverbs does not have anything to do with Greek grammar, but is instead an attempt to help make clear to you some of the possible choices you might make when translating a Greek participle into English.


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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