A verb is the grammatical entity that describes the subject of a sentence. A verb can describe either an action that the subject performs or the state (or condition) of the subject.


A verb is a word in a sentence that describes either an action by the subject of a sentence, or the subject itself. Therefore, the verb is often the most important word in understanding a sentence or a clause.

In Koiné Greek, the base form of the verb communicates the basic meaning of that term. However, this base form never stands alone. The base form of a verb is usually accompanied by a connecting vowel and a word ending. For example, consider the Greek verb αγαπαω (“I love”). This is the form of the verb that appears in any standard lexicon. The base form of the verb is αγαπ-. This expresses the basic meaning of the verb (“love”). The connecting vowel of this verb is the letter -α-. This connecting vowel can change form depending on the number of syllables in the word and well as the specific word ending used in any given instance. The word ending of this verb is the letter -ω. This word ending indicates the tense, voice, and mood of the verb as well as the person and number of the verb’s subject. If the verb is a participle, the word ending can also indicate gender and case. For the verb above, the word ending -ω indicates that the verb is in present tense, active voice, and indicative mood. The word ending also indicates that the subject of the verb is 1st person singular (“I”).

In Koiné Greek, sometimes extra letters will be added at the beginning of the base form. This is called an augment. Letters in a verbal augment are NOT considered part of the base form. They are added in certain circumstances depending on the form of the verb used in any given instance.


Koiné Greek contains many irregular verbs that do not follow strictly the patterns of form described above. If you are ever uncertain about the form of any particular verb, consult a lexicon.

Finite verbs

Finite verbs are verbs that have a subject and do not require any verbal complement to form a complete sentence.

The finite verb forms in Koiné Greek are marked for tense, whether that be present, aorist, future, imperfect, perfect, or pluperfect.

Non-finite verbs

Properly speaking, non-finite verbs are verbal complements that require a finite verb to form a complete sentence.

The non-finite verb forms in Koiné Greek include the infinitive and the participle. Non-finite verbs can sometimes describe an action or an event in such a way that the word functions like a noun.


Grammarians often distinguish between different types of verbs. When considering the best way to translate a sentence, it is helpful to understand what type of verb is being used in any given instance.

Dynamic (or action) verbs

A dynamic verb describes a subject performing an action. The subject is doing something.

Stative (or non-action) verbs

Rather than describing a specific action, a stative verb describes the subject’s state of being (the way the subject is). The subject is not doing anything.

Transitive verbs

A transitive verb is a dynamic verb that requires an object that receives the verbal action. A sentence with a transitive verb is not complete without the object. Stative verbs are never transitive.

Intransitive verbs

An intransitive verb is a verb that does NOT require an object to receive the verbal action. A sentence with an intransitive verb is complete without an object. Dynamic verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, but stative verbs are always intransitive.

Linking verbs

A linking verb is a verb that either equates two nouns, or equates a noun and an adjective. A linking verb can be implied by the context in all three biblical languages: Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, and Koiné Greek. This is not the case in English, however. In English, linking verbs must be explicitly expressed. Therefore, in many sentences a linking verb must be supplied when translating the Bible into English.

Helping verbs

Helping verbs are extra verbs that “help” express the meaning of the main verb. As a general rule, Koiné Greek does not use helping verbs. However, English uses many different kinds of helping verbs. Often, it is necessary to supply a helping verb in English to express the meaning of a Greek verb.

helping verbs in questions and negations

The following example in English adds the helping verb “have” (not present in the Hebrew text):

helping verbs to express possibility or desirability

English uses helping verbs to express varying degrees of possiblity or desirability of verbs. This includes a vast range from strong possibility (He **can* do this* or He **would* do this*) to weak possibility (He **might* do this* or He **could* do this*) or from strong desirability (He **should* do this* or *Let him do this*) to weak desirability (*May he do this* or He **wants* to do this*).