Biblical Greek (Beginners): 07. Imperfect, verb to be (εἰμί)
Imperfect expresses past imperfective action. In general, it portrays an action, which took some time in the past without defining boundaries of its beginning or ending. We will encounter imperfect mostly in storytelling texts (narratives) like gospels and acts.
|Sg.||1||ἐ λυ ον||ἐ λυ ομην|
|2||ἐ λυ ες||ἐ λυ ου|
|3||ἐ λυ ε(ν)||ἐ λυ ετο|
|Pl.||1||ἐ λυ ομεν||ἐ λυ ομεθα|
|2||ἐ λυ ετε||ἐ λυ εσθε|
|3||ἐ λυ ον||ἐ λυ οντο|
The word ἐλυον would be thus translated as „I was loosing“, not „I loosed“, in order to stress imperfectness in the translation.
All past tenses indicative are prefixed with letter ἐ which makes you to easily determinate that the verb is in past. However, two special situations might occur affecting the resulting form of the letter ἐ:
in combination with a vowel (there is lengthening):
α, ε → η
ο → ω
αι, ει → ῃ
οι, ει → ῳ
in verb with prefix:
there is lengthening of a vowel after prefix: ὑπαγω → ὑπ + ε + αγον = ὑπηγον (I was leading out)
the last letter in prefix will drop off: ἐπιφέρω → ἐπι + ε + φερον = ἐπεφερον (I was bringing)
This kind of verbs has active meaning as it is in the present tense. The information about verb's deponency is available in a dictionary.
|Rom 7:7||ἔλεγεν· οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις.|
|He said: you shall not covet|
|John 4:30||ἐξῆλθον ἐκ τῆς πόλεως καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτόν|
|They came out of the city and went to him|
|Matt 9:35||καὶ περιῆγεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς πόλεις πάσας|
|And Jesus went through all the cities|
|John 6:21||καὶ εὐθέως ἐγένετο τὸ πλοῖον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἰς ἣν ὑπῆγον|
|And immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.|
Verb to be
Greek word εἰμί or infinitive εἶναι (to be) is not quite regular in its forms. Therefore it is needed to be learned alone. However, we can draw some rules and connections to regular verbal endings from its forms.
We will encounter this verb in NT text quite often. The number of its occurrence is 2462.