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A Guide for the Greek Subjunctive (Active Verbs)

Hey everyone!

Lately, we've had some questions about the Greek Subjunctive. Even though we have already created skills for the Subjunctive mood in the new tree, there is no skill that directly refers to it in the current one, so we decided that posting a detailed guide for it would be useful.

In general

The subjunctive mood (Υποτακτική) presents the action or the event as something wanted or expected.

  • It indicates what the subject of the verb wants, can, may, must do or is expecting to do.

  • It is often used after verbs like θέλω (want), μπορώ (can, may), πρέπει (must), ελπίζω (hope), σκέφτομαι (think of), εύχομαι (wish) etc. .

  • It can be Present (Υποτακτική Ενεστώτα), Past (Υποτακτική Αορίστου) or Present Perfect (Υποτακτική Παρακειμένου).

  • It is preceded by the particles να, για να, όταν, πριν, αν, άµα, ας, μη(ν), etc.

  • It is used to show continuation (Ρresent Subjunctive) or non-continuation (Past Subjunctive) of the action and not the time aspect (present, past, future).

Present Subjunctive

The subjunctive of Simple Present (Υποτακτική Ενεστώτα) shows continuation or repetition. The action expressed by the verb is ongoing or repeated.

It declares urgency, an order or a prohibition*

*An order or a prohibition with the particle μη(ν) (also known as prohibitive/imperative subjunctive) .


The Present Subjunctive (for active verbs) is formed by:

  • The active verb in the Simple Present form

  • The particles να, για να, όταν, πριν, αν, άµα, ας … etc. before the verb or

  • The particle μη(ν), for prohibitive usage.

Usage Examples

Θέλω να τρώω παγωτό κάθε μέρα! - Ι want to eat ice cream every day!

Όταν πίνετε, μην οδηγείτε. - When you drink, don’t drive.

Σηκώνομαι νωρίς για να πηγαίνω σχολείο. - Ι get up early to go to school.

Θέλεις πάντα να είσαι το επίκεντρο της προσοχής - You always want to be the center of attention.

Past Subjunctive

The subjunctive of the Simple Past (Υποτακτική Αορίστου) expresses non-continuation. Τhe action expressed by the verb is not ongoing or the speaker is not interested in the duration of the action.


The Past Subjunctive (for active verbs) is formed by:

  • The stem of the active verb in the Simple Past form

  • The endings -ω, -εις, -ει, -ουμε, -ετε, -ουν after the stem of the verb*

  • The particles να, για να, όταν, πριν, αν, άµα, ας … etc. before the verb or

  • The particle μη(ν), for prohibitive usage.

*If the verb is irregular, there might be some variations to the s2nd person plural (μπαίνω-μπείτε, βγαίνω-βγείτε, τρώω-φάτε, πίνω πιείτε etc.)

Formation Example:

For the verb διαβάζω (read): να + διαβασ- + -ω -> να διαβάσω

!If the verb gets an extra ε in its Simple Past form, make sure not to include it.

For the verb γράφεις (write): να + γραψ- + -εις -> να γράψεις

Usage Examples

Πρέπει να τον πάρω τηλέφωνο - I have to call him.

Μπορείς να το κρατήσεις αν θέλεις. - You can keep it if you want to.

Θέλεις να μου πεις κάτι; - Do you want to tell me something?

Καλύτερα να μείνετε εδώ. - You better stay here.

Θα κάτσουμε εδώ για να διαβάσουμε - We will sit here to read.


  • The Greek Subjunctive is NOT the same as the English Subjunctive. In English, the term is described by the full infinitive, which of course, doesn't conjugate.

  • The Present Perfect Subjunctive (Υποτακτική Παρακειμένου) is not covered in this course.

  • For more info on Past Simple (Αόριστος), check the tips and notes here https://www.duolingo.com/skill/el/Verbs%3A-Past

For any further questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment. ^.^

September 16, 2017



Brilliant!!! Nothing I've read in books or on the internet comes close to this. It is not only comprehensive but comprehensible. It is something that could only be written by someone who knows the subject through and through in addition to knowing what learners need in order to use the subjunctive. Many thanks.


i would like to have your comments on AORIST which was my nightmare when I was 15/16 and studying Classical Greek. It is what made me abandon it and switch to English. I am 78 now. My mother tongue is French but I am Swiss, from the french-speaking part of the country. I live in South America since 1992. .I thought Modern Greek had no aorist anymore but somebody told me it still has !How does it compare with the classical one ? Many thanks in advance.


Of course, you're not alone in your questions on the Greek subjunctive. Have a look at this page where there are among other useful posts two for the subjunctive.


Together with mizinamo's explanation, these should go a long way to getting ti straight.

Don't hesitate to come back if you have any other queries.

P.S. I'm the same age, French was my HS nightmare. It took me three years and completing Italian and German on Duo before I finally got up the nerve to try French. And now I say: "Why didn't they tell us that in HS? It's not as daunting as I had thought."


Modern Greek still very much has an aorist, and the forms are broadly similar to those in Ancient Greek -- some are more regular (typically "add a σ"), some less so (e.g. βλέπω - είδα, λέω - είπα, πίνω - ήπια, βρίσκω - βρήκα).

The main difference is in the use of temporal augment: ε- is only added when needed to bear a stress three syllables from the end (e.g. πέφτω - έπεσα but μιλάω - μίλησα not εμίλησα), and vowels at the beginning of the verb (usually) don't change any more to indicate the augment; it's just the stress and the ending that signals the aorist (e.g. αγαπάω - αγάπησα not ηγάπησα, καταλαβαίνω "understand" - κατάλαβα not κατέλαβα).

Though if the verb has a prefix, then sometimes the prefix will change with temporal augment (εκ - εξε, απο - απε etc.), as with καταλαμβάνω "seize, occupy" - κατέλαβα.

Another difference is that there is just one set of endings for the aorist - not separate ones for "first aorist" and "second aorist". Thus we have κατάλαβα and not κατάλαβον, for example.


hey how can i learn greek faster


You'll have to be a bit more patient than that ;D I don't believe there is a fast way to learn a language, unless you keep on working and practicing with multiple sources at the same time.


Great info, ευχαριστώ Δίμιτρα! I have one more question. If αόριστος is simple past, what would you say is παρακρατικός? Ευχαριστώ πολύ



Παρατατικός would be the equivalent of Past Continuous in English. ^.^


Α, εντάξει. Ευχαριστώ ξανά

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