Not all Greek tenses are needed for GCSE, but you will have to be able to recognize many, such as the perfect, since they are likely to appear in the set texts

Tenses that must be known:

  • Present
  • Imperfect
  • Aorist
  • Future


The Present Tense refers to something happening in the present.

To form the present, simply add the present endings to the verb stem. Several irregular verbs exist which must be learned.



The imperfect refers to an action that used to happen in the past, in practice it can be translated very similarly to the aorist.

Past tenses always have an augment (epsilon) placed at the beginning of the word. To form the imperfect, an augment is placed at the front of the verb stem and the imperfect endings applied to the end.

  • No distinction in spelling exists between first person singular and third person plural; it must be recognized by context.


The aorist refers to an action that has happened in the past.

The aorist has two main forms, weak aorist and strong aorist. All verbs have either one form or the other but their are a few which have both. To form the weak aorist the relevant endings are added and the signpost augment with no change to the stem of the verb. With the strong aorist the stem of the verb is shortened or in some cases completely changed with the imperfect endings and an augment added. This may seem complicated but in practice the stem change is fairly recognizable and allows the aorist to be quickly identified in a sentence.

Root AoristEdit

Unfortunately there is a third form of aorist used only for a handful of verbs called the root aorist, so called because it uses the root (the stem of the stem) and adds person endings directly to that. From the verb β-I go, the root is βη so:



The future tense refers to a single action that will happen in the future

It is formed by simply placing a sigma between the stem and the present tense endings



Greek has three voices, unlike most languages. As well as the active and the passive voices it has the middle voice which can be roughly translated as someone gets something done, where the subject does not actually do the action, nor is it done to him as in the passive but the action is completed because of the subject i.e. Cardinal Wolsey built Hampton Court, literally he had it built. Another use of the middle is when something is done reflexively


The active is when the subject carries out the action, all the verbs posted above are in the active voice.


The middle, as has been previously said, has several uses:

  • As a causative
  • Reflexively
  • To change the meaning of a verb

Most verbs have the same meaning in both the active and passive however the middle sometimes changes the meaning of the verb, though they are sometimes loosely connected

i.e. αρχω-I rule, goes to αρχoμαι-I begin (as seen in the bible)
     λυω-I release, goes to λυoμαι-I ransom


With passive voice verbs, the action is done to the subject.

Examples: The boy is hit by the ball (Passive Voice); The boy hits the ball (Active Voice).


Finally, verbs also have moods. For Greek GCSE you will have to have a good knowledge of the indicative, subjunctive and imperative moods whilst also being able to recognize the optative when it creeps up on you.


Indicative Mood verbs express an action as factual.

Examples: I am running; you said; we lived; they had eaten


The Imperative Mood is used for commands.

Examples: Run!; Walk!; Stop!; Go!

Imperatives only have 2nd singular, 3rd singular, 2nd plural, and 3rd plural forms. For GCSE you will only need to know the present and aorist forms.


This translates as Stop! (generally) for the active and Cease! (generally) for the passive

    active        middle
S   παυ-ε         παυ-oυ     
P   παυ-ετε       παυ-εσθε

First AoristEdit

This translates as Stop! (one occasion) for the active and Cease! (one occasion) for the passive

    active        middle
S   παυ-σoν       παυ-σαι     
P   παυ-σατε      παυ-σασθε

Second AoristEdit

The second aorist imperative is exactly the same as the present except it has a shortened stem. It translates exactly the same as the First Aorist


The subjunctive is used in a variety of sentence structures mainly to express the possibility of an action happening

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