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New Testament Greek
Course I
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  Lesson 5 - 1st Declension, Feminine Forms of the Definite Article, Feminine Nouns of the 2nd Declension, Masculine nouns of the First Declension, Nouns in the Attributive Position, Conditional Sentences  
  1st Declension  
  Most nouns of the first declension are feminine. Remember that, strictly speaking, the stem of the 2nd declension noun ἄνθρωπος is ἀνθρωπο-, and the stem of λόγος is λογο-. For this reason, the 2nd declension is sometimes called the omicron declension. Similarly the 1st declension is sometimes called the alpha declension. Its stems often end in α. But as we did with the 2nd declension, we will learn the endings with the final vowel of the stem treated as part of the ending, and we will use the word "stem" to refer to the stem without its final vowel.

1st Declension Endings for Stems in ε, ι, ρ

If the stem of a first declension noun ends in ε, ι, or ρ, it is declined as follows:


stems ending in
ε, ι, ρ

  sing. plur.
nom. α αι
gen. ας ων
dat. αις
acc. αν ας
voc. α αι

Notice the similarities between the 1st and 2nd declension. If we think of the α of the 1st declension as standing in the place of the ο of the 2nd declension, then with that exception, we notice that the endings of the two declensions are very similar. Use the Click-Thru Tutor to identify the specific similarities and differences. Clik Thru Tutor

stem ends in ι
  sing. plur.
nom. καρδία καρδίαι
gen. καρδίας καρδιῶν
dat. καρδίᾳ καρδίαις
acc. καρδίαν καρδίας
voc. καρδία καρδίαι

Notice that the genitive singular and the accusative plural are identical in form. The context will determine the case.

Vowel Quantity in the 1st Declension Ultima

  • For 1st declension nouns, the length of the ultima in nominative sing. and accusative sing. will be the same.
  • In the genitive sing. and accusative plural, the ultima is always long

Special Accent Rule for 1st Declension nouns

Notice that the accent moves to the ultima in the genitive plural. With the 2nd declension, you learned a special accent rule: In the genitive and dative, if the ultima is accented, it must be a circumflex. That rule applies to all 1st and 2nd declension nouns and adjectives, but does not require that the ultima be accented in the genitive and dative. Now we see illustrated a new rule specifically for 1st declension nouns: The genitive plural must be accented on the ultima, regardless of the position of the accent in the nominative singular. And of course, that accent will be a circumflex.

1st Declension Endings for Stems not in ε, ι, ρ, when Nom. Sing. has α

If the dictionary form (the nom. sing.) ends in α, and the stem does not end in ε, ι,  or ρ, the α changes to η in the genitive and dative singular: 

 Nom. sing. has  α,
stem ending is not
ε, ι, ρ

  sing. plur.
nom. α αι
gen. ης ων
dat. αις
acc. αν ας
voc. α αι


  sing. plur.
nom. δόξα δόξαι
gen. δόξης δοξῶν
dat. δόξῃ δόξαις
acc. δόξαν δόξας
voc. δόξα δόξαι

1st Declension Endings for Stems not in ε, ι, ρ, when Nom. Sing. has η

When the nominative singular form of a 1st Declension noun ends in η, it will have η throughout the singular inflectional forms:

  Nom. sing. has  η,
stem ending is not
ε, ι, ρ
  sing. plur.
nom. η αι
gen. ης ων
dat. αις
acc. ην ας
voc. η αι


  sing. plur.
nom. γραφή γραφαί
gen. γραφῆς γραφῶν
dat. γραφῇ γραφαῖς
acc. γραφήν γραφάς
voc. γραφή γραφαί

We have now identified three sets of endings for first declension nouns. Notice that they are all alike in the plural. The only variation is between α and η in the singular.





nom. α α η   αι
gen. ας ης ης   ων
dat.   αις
acc. αν αν ην   ας
voc. α α η   αι


  Feminine Forms of the Definite Article  
  The feminine forms of the definite article conform to the 1st declension, and are very predictable. Notice the following:
  • As in the masculine, the nominative forms do not begin with τ.
  • As in the masculine, the nominative forms are proclitic and have a rough breathing mark.
  • As in the masculine and neuter, the genitive plural is ων.
  • As in 1st declension nouns, the plural has α in all cases other than the genitive.
Definite Article, "the"




sing. plur. sing. plur. sing. plur.
nom. οἱ αἱ τό τά
gen. τοῦ τῶν τῆς τῶν τοῦ τῶν
dat. τῷ τοῖς τῇ ταῖς τῷ τοῖς
acc. τόν τούς τήν τάς τό τά

Remember that for a 1st declension noun that has genitive singular ας, the gen. sing. and the acc. plur. are identical in form. καρδίας can be either gen. singular or acc. plural. We noted that context will determine the case. When the word is modified by a definite article, the determination is simple. The genitive singular definite article is always τῆς. If we see τῆς καρδίας we know the case is genitive and the number is singular. If we see τὰς καρδίας, we know the case is accusative and the number is plural.


  Feminine Nouns of the 2nd Declension  

While most 2nd declension nouns are masculine, there are few exceptions. The following nouns are declined according to the 2nd declension, but are feminine and require feminine modifiers.

ἔρημος, -ου, ἡ desert, wilderness
ὁδός, -ου, ἡ way, road (think of exodus, the "way out")
παρθένος, -ου, ἡ virgin

Because these words have the look of masculine nouns, but require feminine modifiers, it may take some practice to recognize what modifiers go with one of these words in a sentence. Notice the consistent look of the endings of the words in the left column below, and make note of the contrast you see when comparing the right column.

  "The good sound"   "The good way"
nom. φων ἀγαθ ὁδὸς ἀγαθ
gen. τῆς φωνῆς τῆς ἀγαθῆς τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἀγαθῆς
dat. τ φων τ ἀγαθ τ ὁδ τ ἀγαθ
acc. τὴν φωνὴν τὴν ἀγαθήν τὴν ὁδὸν τὴν ἀγαθήν
  Masculine Nouns of the 1st Declension  

There are also a significant number of 1st declension nouns that are masculine and require masculine modifiers:

ἐυαγγελιστής, -ου, ὁ evangelist
μαθητής, -ου, ὁ disciple
προφήτης, -ου, ὁ prophet

Each of the examples given above is a word for a person who does something, an agent. Each of these words has a cognate verb that is used for the action performed by the person. Such nouns are called nomina agentis and often end in -της. Those ending in -της are usually (if not always) masculine nouns of the 1st declension.

In the singular forms, these display some variances from the usual 1st declension pattern. Notice the following:

  • The nominative singular has ς.
  • The genitive singular looks like the 2nd declension.
  • The vocative singular reverts to α.
  sing. plur.
nom. προφήτης προφῆται
gen. προφήτου προφητῶν
dat. προφήτῃ προφήταις
acc. προφήτην προφήτας
voc. προφῆτα προφῆται


  Nouns in the Attributive Position  

We are already familiar with the word order

Definite Article | Adjective | Noun

both in English and in Greek. In lesson 4, we introduced the term "Attributive Position". Let's now develop that a bit more. Instead of an adjective following the definite article, we may have a noun, or even an entire phrase, in that position.

Definite Article | Attributive Phrase | Noun

Consider John 18:10. The word ἀρχιερέως is the genitive singular of the 3rd declension noun ἀρχιερεύς meaning high priest. We read that

Peter struck τὸν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως δοῦλον

(Peter struck the of-the-high-priest servant)

τόν is sing. acc. because it modifies the direct object, δοῦλον. But inserted between τόν and δοῦλον is the attributive phrase, "of the high priest." Of course, we would translate, "Peter struck the servant of the high priest."

Such attributive phrases will not necessarily result in two consecutive definite articles as was the case in this example. But any time you come across two consecutive definite articles, e.g. τὸν τοῦ, look to see if you have a phrase in the attributive position separating one of the definite articles from the noun it modifies.

  Assignment 5