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Lesson 6


Lesson 7


Lesson 8


Lesson 9


New Testament Greek
Course I
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  Lesson 6 - Postpositives, Personal Pronouns, Uses of αὐτός, Direct Objects in Cases Other than the Accusative  

Words that often begin a clause when translated into English, but never begin a clause in Greek are called postpositives. A postpositive is positioned (posited) after (post) other words in the clause. Often, a postpositive will be the second word in its clause. The following conjunctions are postpositives. Notice their position in the illustrative phrases.

γάρ for θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί  (1 Co. 3:9)
for we are fellow-workers of God
    γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν (1 Co. 3:17)
for the temple of God is holy

δέ but, and πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεός (1 Co. 10:13)
and God is faithful
    δὲ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἁνανίας (Ac. 23:2)
but the high priest, Ananias

οὖν therefore λέγουσι οὖν τῷ τυφλῷ (Jn. 9:17)
Therefore, they say to the blind man
    εἰ οὖν Δαυὶδ καλεῖ αὐτὸν κύριον(Mt. 22:45)
Therefore, if David calls him Lord

This last example illustrates that even in English, the placement of the conjunction is somewhat fluid, at least in the case of "therefore." We could say "If, therefore, David..." just as well as "Therefore, if David..."

Postpositives do not have to be the second word in the clause. Notice the position of δέ in the following phrases:

ὁ Φῆστος δὲ θέλων τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις χάριν καταθέσθαι (Ac. 25:9)
but Festus, wishing to gain favor with the Jews

κατ' ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρόν (Ac. 12:1)
and at that time

οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν (1 Th. 4:13)
and we do not wish you to be ignorant

καὶ ὁ χιλίαρχος δὲ ἐφοβήθη (Ac. 22:29)
and even the commander was afraid


  ἀλλά and δέ  
  You have already learned the word ἀλλά, "but."  Note the following:
  • The final vowel of ἀλλά is often elided before a word
    beginning with a vowel. That is, the final vowel is dropped
    so that you would see only
    ἀλλ' with an apostrophe
    taking the place of the final

    For example, ἀλλ' οἱ μαθηταί (Jn. 4:2)
    "but the disciples"

  • Don't confuse ἀλλά and ἄλλος (other). The neuter
    ἄλλα looks very much like ἀλλά. However,
    notice that
    ἄλλος, in all its forms, is always accented
    on the penult and
    ἀλλά is never accented on the penult.




    OTHER (only the neuter is given here)

      ἀλλά  nom ἄλλο ἄλλα
      indecl. gen ἄλλου ἄλλων
          dat ἄλλῳ ἄλλοις
          acc ἄλλο ἄλλα

  • Both ἀλλά and δέ may be translated "but". However,
    ἀλλά has a strong adversative meaning, whereas δέ is
    a mild adversative, and is often translated "and," having no
    adversative sense at all.


  1st & 2nd Person Pronouns  

I am repeatedly amazed to find that students in the classroom have difficulty knowing what first person means as opposed to 2nd person and 3rd person. And even after having learned these distinctions in the context of verbs, it seems we have to do it again when we get to pronouns. Let's review this point:

  singular plural
1st person  I or me.  we, us
2nd person you you (pl.; in Alabama, we said, ya'll)
3rd person he, she, it, him, her they, them

The first person pronoun "I " is ἐγώ. Think of ego. My ego is all about me. The first person pronoun has no gender, but is declined for case and number as follows:

1st Person Pronoun
sing. plur.
nom. ἐγώ ἡμεῖς
gen. ἐμοῦ ἡμῶν
dat. ἐμοί ἡμῖν
acc. ἐμέ ἡμᾶς

The highlighted forms are emphatic. If no emphasis is intended, the initial ε is dropped resulting in the forms, μου, μοι, and με, all of which are enclitic.

The second person pronoun "you" is σύ. Again, it has no gender, but is declined for case and number:

2nd Person Pronoun
sing. plur.
nom. σύ ὑμεῖς
gen. σοῦ ὑμῶν
dat. σοί ὑμῖν
acc. σέ ὑμᾶς
  3rd Person Pronoun  

In contrast to the 1st and 2nd person pronouns, the 3rd person pronoun is declined for number case and gender, as follows:

3rd Person Pronoun





sing. plur. sing. plur. sing. plur.
nom. αὐτός αὐτοί αὐτή αὐταί αὐτό αὐτά
gen. αὐτοῦ αὐτῶν αὐτῆς αὐτῶν αὐτοῦ αὐτῶν
dat. αὐτῷ αὐτοῖς αὐτῇ αὐταῖς αὐτῷ αὐτοῖς
acc. αὐτόν αὐτούς αὐτήν αὐτάς αὐτό αὐτά

Notice that the endings for the 3rd person pronoun are typical 1st and 2nd declension endings. Also notice that in the neuter gender, the final ν is dropped in the nominative and accusative singular. Remember that the same thing happens in the definite article, and also in the declension of the adjective ἄλλος (other).

Uses of the 3rd Person Pronoun

The various uses of the 3rd person pronoun can be summarized as follows:

  1. When in the attributive position, it means "same."
    ὁ αὐτὸς λόγος  
      the same word
    ὁ λόγος ὁ αὐτός  

  2. When NOT in the attributive position, in the nominative case, it often intensifies.
    αὐτὸς ὁ λόγος  
      the word itself
    ὁ λόγος αὐτός  

    or without a noun:  αὐτὸς λέγω = I myself say 

  3. When NOT in the attributive position, in any of the oblique cases (i.e., any case other than the nominative case) it is usually being used as a regular 3rd person pronoun.

We need to consider the first two of these more thoroughly.

  1. In the attributive position

    Remember the discussion (Lesson 4) of these word orders:

    Definite Article | Adjective | Noun

    Definite Article |  Noun | Definite Article | Adjective

    We saw that in both cases, the adjective is in the attributive position. If a 3rd person pronoun stands in the place of the adjective, it functions as an adjective meaning "same". It will agree with the noun it modifies in number, case, and gender. Consider the following examples:

    τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην (Ph. 2:2)
    the same love

    ὁ αὐτὸς κύριος (1 Co. 12:5)
    the same Lord

    ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς θεός (1 Co. 12:6)
    but the same God (notice the postpositive δέ. Its presence does not preclude this construction from being attributive.)

    τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῆς αὐτῆς (He. 11:9)
    of the same promise (here the word order is Def. art | Noun | Def. art. | Adj.the promise the same. Remember that this order also is the attributive position.)

    In lesson 4, we noted that an adjective can be used as a substantive. This is also true of the 3rd person pronoun in the attributive position. Consider the following example:

    τὰ αὐτὰ γράφειν (Ph.3:1)
    to write the same things
    γράφειν is the infinitive form of γράφω.
    There is no word here for
    things. Rather
    τὰ αὐτά functions as a substantive.
    τὰ αὐτά is neuter plural,
    things is the natural noun to supply in English.)

  2. Not in the attributive position, in the nominative case

    αὐτός is usually in the nominative case when functioning as an intensifier ("...self"). There are examples of intensive αὐτός in other cases, but we will reserve discussion of those for the 3rd level course. In the present course, all examples of αὐτός as an intensifier will be in the nominative case.

    We need to give some special attention to this intensive function in connection with verbs. It is important to dismiss all thought of a third person pronoun (he, she, it, him, her, they, them). In this capacity, αὐτός has no person. Person is determined by the verb. For example, αὐτὸς λέγω means I myself say, not he himself says. Only its number (singular vs. plural) and gender are significant. The number must agree with the verb. The gender will be dictated by the explicit or implicit subject. The fact that the masculine αὐτός is used rather than the feminine αὐτή indicates that the speaker is a man rather than a woman. Consider the following carefully:
    αὐτὸς λέγω = I myself say (spoken by a man)
    αὐτὴ λέγω = I myself say (spoken by a woman)
    αὐτὸς λέγεις = you yourself say (spoken to a man)
    αὐτὴ λέγεις = you yourself say (spoken to a woman)
    αὐτὸς λέγει = he himself says
    αὐτὴ λέγει = she herself says
    αὐτὸ λέγει = it itself says
    Now you try to translate the next one
    αὐτοὶ γινώσκετε

    Now try translating a passage of scripture. The sentence below is taken from Acts 10:26. You will encounter a personal pronoun used as such and a pronoun used intensively, both of which we have covered in this lesson. The other three words were introduced in previous lessons. If you get stuck, point your mouse at the confusing word to get help. After you have settled on your translation, look at Acts 10:26.


    It should be noted that in NT Greek, nominative αὐτός is sometimes used as a regular 3rd person pronoun. For example, in Mt. 5:4, we read, μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται. Blessed are they who mourn, because they will be comforted may be an adequate translation, rather than they themselves will be comforted.

Here is another way to organize your thinking about the 3 uses of αὐτός:

  Verbs with Direct Object in Cases Other than the Accusative  

So far, we have associated the accusative case with the direct object. However, for some verbs, what would be a direct object in English may be in the genitive or dative case in Greek.

The verb πιστεύω may take an accusative object, but more often it is used with the dative case (or with a prepositional phrase). Consider Jesus' words in Jn. 8:45, οὐ πιστεύετέ μοι, you do not believe me. μοι is the dative singular 1st person pronoun we learned earlier in this lesson, and it serves as the object of πιστεύετε.

The verb ἀκούω may be used with the genitive case as well as the accusative case. In classical Greek, the distinction in case represented a distinction in meaning. For example, ἀκούω with the genitive case had more to do with hearing from someone, whereas the accusative case was used for hearing what was said. Robertson discussed ἀκούω with the two cases and described the distinction this way:

The accusative (case of extent) accents the intellectual apprehension of the sound, while the genitive (specifying case) calls attention to the sound of the voice without accenting the sense. (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, A. T. Robertson, p. 506).

This distinction was not consistently observed in Hellenistic Greek, and certainly we often see the two cases used with ἀκούω interchangeably in the New Testament. However, the distinction is not entirely lost in the New Testament. And it so happens, noting this distinction helps us work through what some have considered a contradiction in the book of Acts.

In the story of Saul's conversion as told in Acts 9, Luke tells us "the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice (φωνῆς, genitive case), but not seeing anyone" (Ac. 9:7). But in Acts 22, Luke records Saul's recounting of the story, and in verse 9 Saul says, "they that were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice (φωνήν, accusative case) of the one speaking to me." So did they hear the voice or not? In both cases the verb for hear is a form of ἀκούω but the case of the word φωνή is genitive in one and accusative in the other.  It appears that Luke is making the old classical distinction; they heard the sound (the genitive case in Acts 9:7) but did not comprehend the meaning (the accusative case in Acts 22:9).


  Assignment 6