You have already
learned to use εἰ for the English if in
conditional sentences. The conditional sentences we
have discussed so far are all of a very simple type.
They are called Type I conditional sentences.
They involve the particle εἰ
used with a verb in the indicative mood.
Now we introduce Type
II conditional sentences. The typical
εἰ ...[secondary tense indic. verb]..., ...ἄν...[secondary
tense indic. verb]...
This construction is
used when the speaker means to indicate that what he
hypothesizes is contrary to fact. For example...
the earth were flat, ships would sail off the
I had a nickel for every time a student forgets
an accent mark, I would be rich.
sentences, the if part of the sentence is
called the protasis, and
the then part of the sentence is called the apodosis.
Notice that in the two examples above, the protasis
is understood to be untrue, or contrary to fact. The
earth is not flat. I do not have a nickel for every
time a student forgets an accent mark. (But I'm
considering instituting that as a policy!)
Also notice that in
English, the protasis of such sentences uses a verb
form that can function as a past tense verb: If the
earth were flat; If I had
a nickel.. However, we are not indicating past time
in these sentences. We are talking about the present.
If the earth were flat right now...; If
at the present time I had a nickel...I would be rich.
Also notice that the apodosis in such sentences often
uses the word would. In
fact, the construction we are using in such English
sentences is the subjunctive mood, and the
subjunctive mood often uses the word would
as well as verb forms that in other contexts would be
considered past tense.
In Greek, a Type II
conditional sentence is a way of achieving the same
idea without using the subjunctive mood. But it is
similar to the English construction in that a verb is
used that in other contexts might be considered past
Also, the particle
ἄν is very often found in the
apodosis. ἄν itself does not have an English
equivalent, but where you find
ἄν in Greek, you will very likely need to
supply would in your
English translation. In the following example,
ἄν comes after the secondary
tense verb in the apodosis:
εἰ ...[secondary tense indic. verb]..., [secondary
tense indic. verb]
εἰ γὰρ ἐπιστεύετε
ἂν ἐμοι Jn. 5:46
for if you were believing Moses, you would
Imperfects are used in
both the protasis and the apodosis,
ἐπιστεύετε in both places. But the
thought is not that those addressed would have
believed Jesus at some time in the past if they had
believed Moses at some time in the past. The
imperfects here are not used to indicate past time,
but to indicate that those addressed are not in fact
believing Moses, that the hypothesis is contrary to
- Type II
conditional sentences use secondary tenses in
the indicative mood, usually in both the
protasis and in the apodosis, but do not
necessarily indicate past time.
- When the
imperfect tense is used in such sentences,
present time is regularly in view.
- Type II
conditional sentences often have
ἄν in the apodosis.
- The speaker means
to indicate that the protasis is contrary to
- The English
translation will use the subjunctive mood
involving a past tense verb form in the