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Introduction English Grammatical Terminology

*Note – this is a very basic survey and does not cover many areas of Greek,

Hebrew, or English grammar that are useful for exegesis

Noun -Person, place, or thing

Proper Noun -proper name of place or person

Collective Noun – noun that has more than one entity behind it ("people" – has no "s" on the end for pluralization, but refers to more than one)

"Number" – is the noun singular or plural?


Case – 

Nouns have "case", which refers to how the noun functions in the sentence. In English, you have to determine this by context or 'common knowledge" of your own language. Hebrew works this way as well, except it has a specific way to express the genitive case (the "construct state" - see below), and the accusative (the "direct object" state) is often marked by a specific particle. Greek, on the other hand, adds certain letters to the ends of nouns (and adjectives), much like adding "s" in English to make something plural, to tell you specifically which case the noun is. This process of adding something to the end (or the beginning) is called inflection. Most languages with which you'd be familiar are inflected languages (Spanish,German, French, Latin, e.g.).


There are five cases ("function pointers"):

Nominative -the subject

            Predicate Nominative – refers to the subject, but is in the predicate of the sentence

Genitive – shows relationship between nouns (see example)

Dative – usually points to the indirect object (the relationship of the verb to some noun)

Accusative – the direct object (usually); often the object of the verb (the object affected by the verb)

Vocative – used for direct addressing of someone


The Article – makes a noun definite ("THE car" or indefinite "A car")

Verb –

Tense – how the verbal action relates to time (only in Greek though – In Hebrew, time is determined by context)

Voice – the relationship of the subject to the action of the verb

Active – the subject DOES the action

Passive – the subject has the action done TO him/her/it

Reflexive – the subject does something to himself (that effects himself in some way)

Mood – the relationship of the action of the verb to REALITY

Indicative – the action is taking place in actual reality

Subjunctive – the action is only potential or uncertain

Imperative – the action is demanded of someone else (but is yet future – until that person obeys)


More Specific Hebrew and Greek Grammatical Terminology

on the Noun

Hebrew Noun Terms:

Definiteness – has the article

Indefiniteness – lacks the article

Construct State – usually refers to the genitive idea (see notes below on the genitive use)


Greek Noun Terms:

Articular – has the article

Anarthrous – lack the article


Additional Notes on Greek Nouns - Case "Usage"

(adapted from Richard A Young's Intermediate Greek)


1.  Uses of the Genitive Case (X of Y relationship):


X is described by Y

example: Rom. 6:6 "bodv (noun X) of sin (noun Y)"= "sinful bodv 

X is owned by Y

example: Matt. 26:51 (Lit.) the sword of him" = *his sword 

X  is done by Y

example: "love of God"- the love [which God does] (possibly – but see below)

X is directed toward Y (Y receives the action of X)

example: "love of God"= {my} love [for God] – also possible


2.  Uses of the Dative


Indirect Object - *dative is the thing indirectly affected by the verb

example: John 5:27 "he gave him authority"

Is it an  indirect object of advantage? (i.e., does it benefit the recipient?) 

John 16:7 "it is for you that I go away"

Or is it an indirect object of disadvantage (i.e., detrimental to recipient)


Means - *dative specifies the means by which an action is done

example: Mark 5:5 '[he was] cutting himself with stones" 

Manner - *dative tells the way in which something is done

example: Mark 8:32 "[he was speaking] with boldness"


Hebrew and Greek Grammatical Terminology - Verbs

Hebrew Verb Terms:


Stem = the relationship of the subject of the verb to the verb's action (like "voice" above for Greek – this does NOT refer to tense!!)


Qal – the simple active stem; the subject does the action

Niph'al – the subject undergoes the action (like the passive), or does the action in a way that effects him/her/it ("reflexive")

Pi'el – the action of the verb brings about a state of being (look for what the direct object is here, or look to the context for some kind of result that springs from the action of a verb in the Pi'el)

Pu'al – same as the Pi'el, but PASSIVE

Hiphil – the action of the verb brings about another ACTION (look for what the direct object is here – IT MAY BE "COMPELLED" to do something as a result of the prior action of the Hiph'il verb)

Hophal – same as the Hiph'il, but PASSIVE


Greek Verbal Terms


"Tenses" (relation of the verb's action to TIME)


Present Tense – an action taking place from the current perspective of the writer (it doesn't HAVE to be continuative / over and over – but may be, depending on context)

Aorist Tense – a simple one-time action (usually) that is most likely past

Perfect "Tense" – an action that has occurred in the past but whose effect is still felt

Imperfect "Tense" – past action of a repetitive nature


Voice – (see definitions above)

Active -

Middle -

Passive –


Additional Notes on Greek Verbs

(adapted from Ricbard A. Young's Intermediate Greek)


Uses of the Present Tense:


Iterative Present - *refers to the repetition of the same action; a custom or habitual practice (but not unbroken linear)

example: Luke 18:12 "you (perpetually) tithe the mint and the dill"

Tendential Present - * an action which was begun or attempted, but not carried out

example: John 10:32 "for which of these works are you (going to) stone me?" 

Gnomic Present - * an action that is always happening; timeless

example: Matt. 7:17 "a healthy tree produces good fruit"

Futuristic Present - * a future event is regarded as so certain the writer expresses it as being in progress

example: John 14:3 "I will come back" (Lit. - I am coming back). .

Durative Present - * an action that began in the past and which continues into the present

example: I John 3:8 "the devil is sinning (i.e., has been sinning) from the beginning"


Uses of the Imperfect Tense:

Iterative Imperfect - *expresses an action that occurs at repeated intervals

example: Mark 6:41 (Jesus breaking the bread and giving it to the disciples) 

Inceptive Imperfect - * focuses on the beginning of an action

example: Mark 14:72 "started weeping" (vs "was weeping")

Durative Imperfect - *refers to an action begun in the past, and which continued for some time; the action is "prolonged", but not necessarily ongoing to the current moment

example: John 20:12 "was lying" (Jesus had already risen)


Uses of the Future Tense:

Predictive Future - *used to predict a future event

example: Mark 1:8 (John predicts that Jesus will baptize" with the HS 

Progressive Future - *suggests the future event is progressive in nature

example: Phil 1:6 "he who began a good workwill complete it" 

Deliberative Future - *used in questions to express uncertainty in some fliture act

example: Hebrews 2:3 'How will we escape.


Uses of the Aorist Tense:

Note on the Aorist:  It does NOT always mean the action is past – it may be a simple observation that something occurred in fact (from a writer's CURRENT perspective)

*see a recent Greek grammar on the aorist

Constative Aorist - *expresses an action as a complete whole w!o regard to length of time it took to accomplish it; also called the "historical aorist"

example: Rom 1:13"I determined to come to vou"

Ingressive Aorist - * focuses on the beginning of an action or entrance into a state

example: II Cor. 8:9 "although he was rich, for you he became poor" 

Culminative Aorist - *focuses on the completion of an action

example: I John 2:11 "The darkness has blinded his eyes" 

Futuristic Aorist - *used to refer to a future event

example: John 17:18 "Just as you have sent me... I will send them'"


Uses of the Perfect Tense:

Consummative Perfect - * verb suggests that the action had continued for some time but has now come to an end

example: John 19:30 "it is finished"

Intensive Perfect - *depicts a prior act which creates a new state of affairs

example: John 16:28 "(Jesus speaking) I have come into the world" 

Perfect of Present State - *verb conveys a present state of affairs with no prior action

example: John 8:52 "now we know you have a demon"