The Bible Truths Online Greek Course
Lesson Six - Nouns, Pronouns, and Conjunctions
(Study text then scroll down to questions)
In this lesson, I shall introduce you to the noun in Greek. Toward the end of this lesson, I shall briefly mention pronouns and conjunctions.
Most Greek grammarians consider the verb (Lesson Five) and the noun to be the fundamental elements of a sentence in Greek. The word noun is from the Latin nomen, meaning "name." Stated simply, a noun is a name of a person, place, or thing, just as in English. Also, a noun may designate an idea, an action, or a quality. You have had a number of nouns already in your vocabulary builders. Remember oîkos (house), thánatos (death), doûlos (slave), and adelphós (brother) from Lesson Four? These are all nouns.
Greek nouns, just as in English, have cases. Greek nouns are grouped into three categories, called declensions. The concept of declension in nouns is basically the same as conjugation involving verbs. Both conjugation and declension involve the inflection of the words.
The matter of cases in Greek nouns. As I have heretofore practiced, I shall present you with enough information to provide you with a basic understanding and foundation of nouns. Teachers of Greek present both the eight and five case concept. As we noticed in the introduction to this course, there is really no essential difference. The eight case view presents the nominative, genitive, ablative, dative locative, instrumental, accusative, and the vocative. Those who present the five case system contend for the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and vocative (the instrumental, ablative, and locative are absorbed in other cases). For the sake of simplicity, I have usually taught the five case system.
The nominative case of Greek nouns is similar to the English nominative, it is the case of the subject of the sentence. ThereforeapostoloV (apostle) ginwskei means an apostle knows. Notice that as a rule, when there is no definite article (the) present, the noun is simply rendered an apostle.
The accusative case is the case of the direct object. Can you understand the Greek sentenceblepw logon? (Lesson Three and Four vocabulary.) Blépo lógon means I see a word. Word (lógon) is in the accusative singular case.
The genitive case roughly corresponds to our English possessive case. Hence, the genitive expresses possession. Consider the following sentence:logoi apostolwn. Thus, lógoi apostólon means words of apostles or apostle's words. Lógoi (word, Lesson Four vocabulary) is plural (oi ending, notice later) and the noun apostólon is in the genitive plural case (see also later).
The dative case is the case of the indirect object. Thuslego logou apostoloiV means I say a word to apostles. The dative has many other important uses that must be learned by observation.
Last of all, there is the vocative case. The vocative is the case of direct address. Can you translate the sentence,adelfe, blepomen? Take your time and think about it, do not be intimidated. You have studied these stems in Lessons Three and Four. In those lessons you learned adelfoV and blepw. The endings have changed because of the declension of adelphós and blépo. Adelphé is vocative case, singular and blépomen is in the plural form. Hence, the Greek sentence is, brother, we see.
The matter of the declension of Greek nouns. There are three recognized declensions of nouns. These inflections are based on the ending of the noun stem. The rule is that nouns that havea as their characteristic stem ending are assigned to the first declension. Those with o as the characteristic stem ending are in the second declension. The third declension includes nouns whose stems end in a consonant or in i, u, or eu. The second declension (omicron declension) is the most important because more nouns belong to this declension. As a rule, the nouns that belong to the alpha declension (first declension) are feminine gender, there are some exceptions. The nouns of the omicron declension (second declension) are usually masculine and neuter (there are a few feminine genders). The third declension presents the greatest variety and the most difficulty of the three. At this time, I could mention mute, liquid, syncopated, and vowel stems but I do not believe you have to understand these stems to have a basic grasp of the Greek noun.
In all fairness, I should mention that the great Greek grammarian A. T. Robertson believed that it is not possible with final precision to draw fixed limits for the declensions. In this vein, I now quote grammarians Dana and Mantey:"This may most naturally be expected when we remember that declensions had no rules by which to develop, but came with the spontaneous growth of the language. With this fact in view there is no wonder that there is mixing and overlapping. In the earliest grammatical effort they tried to make an exhaustive classification of all variations, which resulted in division into ten or more declensions. Whitney has divided noun inflection in the Sanskrit into five declensions, but the difference is not pronounced. In Modern Greek there has been a blending of the first and third declensions (cf. R. 246,247)" (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pg. 35).
Notice the following table, how ánthropos (man) is inflected. Keep in mind that ánthropos is of the common omicron declension. The declension on the left is singular and the one on the right is plural (all of this information will start merging and making more sense in Lesson Eight. Do not become discouraged). Also, pay close attention to the case endings of each inflected word (abbreviated by N., nominative, etc.).
|Nom. anqrwpoV, a man||N.V. anqrwpoi, men|
|Gen. anqrwpou, of a man||Gen. anqrwpwn, of men|
|Dat. anqrwpw, to or for a man||Dat. anqrwpoiV, to or for men|
|Acc. anqrwpon, man||Acc. anqrwpouV, men|
|Voc. anqrwpe, man|
Notice how in the second or omicron declension, the nominative and vocative plural are the same. The only way to determine if anthropoi is nominative (case of subject) or vocative (case of address) is by observing how the word is used in a given sentence.
As stated, the first noun declension is the alpha inflection. The rule is all nouns ending in a or h are feminine gender. I shall illustrate the alpha declension by using the noun wra (notice the rough breathing in Vine's; hence, hora).
|N.V. wra||N.V. wrai|
|Gen. wraV||Gen. wrwn|
|Dat. wra||Dat. wraiV|
|Acc. wran||Acc. wraV|
Having just considered Greek nouns, let us now briefly examine the Greek pronoun. A pronoun is a word that stands instead of a noun. The noun for which the pronoun stands is called its antecedent. The pronoun in usage agrees with its antecedent in gender and number. Therefore, the Greek pronoun in usage is similar to the pronoun in our English language. Please examine the following sentence: blepw ton maqhthn kai didaskw auton. Let me explain that tòn is the definite Article (Lesson Seven), mathetén is the Greek word for disciple, and autón is the pronoun him. Hence, I see the disciple and teach him. Remember didasko from Lesson Three? Here ma-the-tén (both letters e are eta, pronounced as long a in English, with the accent on the ultima or last syllable) is the antecedent of autón and since matheten is of masculine gender and singular number, autón also is masculine singular. Here is another Greek sentence, see if you can translate it: blepw ta tekna kai didaskw auta. Remember téknon from Lesson Five? I should mention that tà is the definite article (the) and kaì is the conjunction. Therefore, the translation is: I see the children (plural of teknon) and I teach them. It will be observed that in English in the plural the personal pronoun is the same in form for all three genders (them), whereas in Greek it varies.
There have been numerous false doctrines taught as a result of not understanding Greek grammar. In the case of pronouns and a lack of understanding of the grammar examine Romans 8: 26:"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Notice that the Holy Spirit is referred to as "itself." Hence, the view has developed that the Spirit is an it; therefore, simply an energy mass sent out by the Father, certainly not a being or entity, a he. However, when we view the original of John 16: 13, we find another thought. Jesus used the strong masculine pronounekeinoV in referring to the Holy Spirit ("Howbeit when he"). How, then, do we explain the Spirit being referred to as an it in Romans 8: 26? The answer is found in the grammar of Greek nouns and pronouns. Notice the expression to pneuma auto (the Spirit itself). Autò is in the neuter gender, hence, itself. However, this is because the noun antecedent pneûma is a neuter noun. Also, the definite article tò is neuter gender. In the sense of grammar, the Spirit (pneûma, neuter noun) requires the pronoun (fill in for the noun) to also be neuter. However, when speaking of the pneûma in the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus obviously emphasized the being of the Spirit by using a masculine pronoun (click on "The Holy Spirit" to read more about the Holy Spirit, be sure to use your browser return to come back to this page). Just as in the case of the declension of nouns, the pronoun has a number of declensions (good grammars will present tables of the various declensions, more in Lesson Eight). There are also pronouns that have special functions, such as the reciprocal, reflexive, personal, and demonstrative. Again, I mention this to also point out the advanced development of the original language of the New Testament.
A brief treatment of Greek conjunctions. Conjunctions in Greek, as in English, connect sentences, clauses, phrases, and words. The two main types that appear in the Koiné Greek are coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions have the chief function of joining together two equal grammatical elements, whereas subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent clauses. Some coordinating conjunctions arekai, de, te, h, alla, oute, oude and oun. The subordinating conjunctions are oti and ina. There can be more complicated uses of these conjunctions.
Peter taught the following that is presently applicable in Acts 2: 38:"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Peter made this statement in response to some in the audience wanting to know what to do to be saved (vs. 23-37). Notice how "repent" (metanoésate) and "be baptized" (baptisthéto) are joined by the conjunction kaì. (You can see this in the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament that I recommended at the beginning of the course). Some argue that baptism is more important than repentance; some contend repentance is more necessary than baptism. Some say baptism only (not baptism and repentance) is for the remission of sins. All these views are grammatically incorrect. Remember that kaì is a coordinating conjunction that joins items or elements of equal grammatical importance. Hence, baptism when preceded by repentance is for the remission of sins (see belief and baptism similarly joined in Mark 16: 16). Some play down "be baptized" based on the passive voice element. The full grammatical information regarding the posture of baptisthéto is third person, singular, aorist tense 1, imperative mood, and passive voice. A literal translation would be "get yourself baptized" (the subject is passive and being acted upon). However, how does this play down baptism? One repents for oneself; however, one is baptized by another. (Click on "Baptism, How, Who, When, and Why" to read more about baptism, be sure to use your browser return).
In this lesson, you have been introduced to Greek nouns, pronouns, and conjunctions. If you have serious interest, you can build on this foundation. However, this material will provide you with the fundamentals regarding these important facets of Greek grammar.
Your vocabulary words are all nouns of the alpha inflection.
As usual, pay close attention to the details of the Greek words. For instance, fwnh is not pronounced phone (as in telephone). Phone has two syllables with the acute over eta or the ultima. Remember that eta is always pronounced as a long a in English. Entole also has the acute over the ultima or eta, with three syllables (compare Vine's).
Questions for Lesson Six
Please fill in the answers referring back to the above study material. Be sure to supply your name and e-mail in the provided form. Remember to click on the submit button and allow a day or two, normal circumstances, for the reviewing of your answers and return of your grade.
1 What are the two fundamental elements of a sentence in Greek?
2. What are some nouns you studied in Lesson Four (answer in Greek)?
3. What do Greek nouns have (hint, eight or five)?
4. What is inflection in nouns called and what is inflection?
5. Can you explain the nominative, genitive, and vocative cases?
6. Can you fill in the sentence in Greek, "the apostle knows?"
7. How would you write "the apostle's words?"
8. Can you translate adelfe, blepomen and what is the case of adelphe?
9. How many declensions are there in Greek?
10. List in Greek the genitive and accusative singular of anthropos
11. How would you write in Greek "I see the children and I teach them?"
12. How do you explain the Holy Spirit being called it?
13. What two types of Greek conjunctions are there?
14. What kind of conjunction is kai in Acts 2: 38 and Mark 16: 16 and what is its function?
15. Applying what you have learned about the omicron declension, what case is uiou (son)?
16. What cases are wraV, wrwn, and wran respectively?
17. What are the Greek words for truth, church, and soul (answer in Greek)?
18. How can you find extensive tables of conjugations and declension?
19. In the Greek to pneuma auto what is the pronoun (answer in Greek)?
20. Did you ever believe you would already be reading and translating biblical Greek?
Lesson Number (type in "Lesson Six"):
Be sure to double check your e-mail address and click on the submit button:
Click here to go to Lesson Seven. Remember to first complete Lesson Six.