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Greek/Greek Contract Verbs


Hello Maria,

I am independently studying Greek.

I am confused about contract verbs...especially when they move into the imperfect.

For example, the imperfect verb ἠθέλετε has the lexical form of θέλω.

I don't understand what has happened to the connecting vowel?

Can you explain it to me in simple terms?



first of all  ἠθέλετε is not a contracted verb, but simply the indicative imperfect, 2nd person plural, active voice, of the verb  ἐθέλω, whose alternate form is θέλω without the epsilon (ἐ) before the theta (θ).

So, the imperfect ἠθέλετε from ἐθέλω has the  augment (ἠ) which denotes past time.

Such an augment  appears only in the secondary or past tenses of the indicative mood, namely, imperfect, aorist, and pluperfect, and has two forms, the syllabic  and the temporal.

The syllabic augment is used with verbs beginning with a consonant that prefix an ε as the augment (see ἔθελον from θέλω), while the temporal augment is used with verbs beginning with a vowel that take the temporal augment by lengthening the initial vowel (see ἠθέλετε from ἐθέλω where the first short ἐ becomes the long ἠ).

See also the following imperfects :

ἔλυον from λύ̄ω (syllabic augment)
ἐπαίδευον from παιδεύω (syllabic augment)
ἔθελον from θέλω (syllabic augment)
ᾖδον  from ᾄδω  (temporal augment)
ἤθελον from ἐθέλω (temporal  augment)

As for the contracted verbs,  they are for example τιμάω, ποιέω and δηλόω, i.e. verbs  in -αω, -εω, -οω  that become τιμῶ, ποιῶ and δηλῶ, according to principles of contraction that you can find in any Ancient Greek grammar.

Hope this can be helpful to you.

Best regards,



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I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning ANCIENT GREEK. So, do not ask me please questions regarding MODERN GREEK as it is different from Ancient Greek either in spelling/meaning or in pronunciation.


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I received my Ph.D in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy) and my thesis was about ancient Greek drama (Aeschylus).

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