One way to understand Biblical Greek is comparing and contrasting it with English grammar. Lack of knowledge of English grammar can be an unexpected obstacle not only to learning biblical Greek, but also to good Bible study.
Here are some basics you may want to review before embarking on learning biblical Greek.
- Inflection: When a word changes its form based on the function it performs in a sentence or its gender, it’s called inflection. For example: she/her, he/him, me/mine.
- English is not very inflected. Biblical Greek is highly inflected.
The quick brown fox jumped over the old lazy dog‘s tail.
- Case: The different functions words can perform in a sentence are called cases.
- If a word show’s possession, it is in the possessive case (e.g. dog’s tail).
- The subject does the action of the verb (e.g. the fox).
- To find the subject, ask yourself: who or what did the action of the verb?
- If word is the subject of a sentence, it is in the subjective case.
- The direct object is the person or thing that receives the action of the verb (e.g. the dog).
- To find the direct object, ask yourself: what or whom is directly affected by the action of the verb?
- If a word is the direct object, it is in the objective case.
- Number refers to whether a word is singular (cat) or plural (cats).
- Gender refers to whether the word refers to something masculine, feminine or neuter (e.g. he/she/it; prince/princess).
- “I” and “we” are 1st person.
- “You” is 2nd person.
- “He,” “she,” and “it” are 3rd person.
Parts of Speech
The quick brown fox jumped over an old lazy dog.
- The definite article is the word “the.”
- The indefinite article is the word “a” or “an”.
- A noun stands for someone or something. (In the sentence above, “fox” and “dog” are nouns.)
- An adjective modifies a noun or another adjective. (“Quick”, “brown,”old” and “lazy” are adjectives.)
- A preposition shows the relationship between two items. (“Over” is a preposition.)
- The object of the preposition is the word(s) that follow the preposition. (“An old lazy dog” is the object of the preposition.)
- Sentences can be broken into two parts: subject and predicate. The subject describes the subject of the sentence (e.g. “the quick brown fox”). The predicate describes everything else, including the verb (e.g. “jumped over an old lazy dog”).
- Hint: Greek sentences are much longer than English sentences. It is often helpful to break them into subject and predicate.