You are here:

Greek/Two greek suffix's


QUESTION: Hi, I writing to ask about two ancient greek words.

κοίταις and κοῖται. They appear in the Greek New Testament Bible among other places. My question is, are these masculine or feminine words? Also, how does one determine whether they are masculine or feminine? Also, does the gender of the word determine who it is addressed to? For example, is a feminine word addressed to females? Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Frank,

thank you for your question. The case forms you sent me are indicative of both masculine and feminine noun endings of the first declension. This means that you cannot determine the gender only by those endings - typical case in many Greek and Latin inflections - but you need to look up the word and learn it.

Now, to be precise there happen to be two different nouns of the first declension, a feminine and a masculine one; i.e. we have ἡ κοίτη (=bed) and ὁ κοίτης (=sleep), which have common endings in some grammatical cases. The most common use in the NT would be that of "bed" (feminine), unless you want me to check certain passages and make it 100% sure.

Κοίταις can be dative plural of either of the above nouns, whereas κοῖται can be nominative (or vocative) plural - again of either of these.

Regarding the genders, if you mean "refer to" a certain gender rather than "be addressed to", it makes sense only if we are talking about natural genders, i.e. humans, spirits/gods, or animals, because all other nouns have a grammatical gender. This means that a male or a female bed doesn't make any sense, even if there are synonyms of "bed" with all three genders. It's only for grammatical purposes there.

Let me know whether this helped you. Have a nice evening.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your reply. So to be clear, there's nothing in these words indicating that they are being addressed to a specific gender correct?  The person using them could be Addressing either males or females? For example pornoi refers to male prostitutes, porne refers to female prostitutes. In the same way, can we be sure of the gender of the person doing the act expressed by the word in question?

ANSWER: No, there is nothing regarding gender specification. For the other question with the example of pornoi/porne  it doesn't either work. There is no such function in Greek. You can never be sure of the gender of the person that uses the words, EXCEPT if the first person is used or implied.

So, if you would have a sentence like "ἡμεῖς οἱ πόρνοι" (=we male prostitutes), it would autologically imply that "we" refers to men uttering this. Same for "ἡμεῖς αἱ πόρναι" (=we <female> prostitutes), i.e. "we" refers to ponoi/pornai and as it doesn't have a gender of its own, the first person implied behind it is the respective one.

Other than that, there is no other function where a second or a third person's gender can be declared through an arbitrary word or other part of the senctece that isn't connected with it.

Hope this assisted you. Have a nice day again.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm sorry I wasn't clear. I'm not asking if you can tell the gender of the person who is using the word in speech. I'm asking if you can tell the specific gender the word is used to describe? For example, if you said "porne", I know you'd be talking about "female" prostitutes. If you said "pornoi" I know you'd be talking about "male prostitutes". My question is, does the suffix of the word Κοίταις or Κοίται tell you the gender of the person DOING THE ACTUAL ACT (Κοίταις)? For example if I said, all those who Κοίταις will be go to jail. Is it used to reference females doing the act, males doing the act, or both?

Ok, now this is a different question. In Greek - as in Latin - there are common endings for some grammatical cases. You cannot always tell what the gender is if the article is missing or if it is not clear through adjectival endings or elsehow.

In the case of κοῖταις, one can say for sure that it's about the masculine noun ὁ κοίτης - typical of NT - but it is possible that the linguistic-cultural conventions imply also women in the "sleepers group". This is not easy to decide, unless the context is clear. E.g. if you'd be talking about κοίται in a context of monks' monastery or maybe a bathhouse, these would obviously be men's areas; this means that even if women are implied within a certain context, the word might still be used in its (conventional) masculine form for both sexes, nevertheless.

A similar question would arise in English if you had to address poets. Would you say "Welcome to all poets of the world!" meaning men and women, or would you add "..and poetesses"? In Greek, some words have the flexibility to form gender endings (nomina mobilia), but it's actually the article's job to clarify the gender in case, for example, of the second declension where the endings are the same for both genders.

I hope now this is clearer. Do not hesitate to ask me again.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael Barkas


I provide assistance in linguistic, literary topics of Greek and Latin covering, thus, the following fields: translation, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, etymology, morphology, semantics and interpretations etc.


Studies: University of the Aegean, Dept Rhodes Friedrich Wilhelm Universitšt Bonn

Magister Artium (Archeology/Linguistics) Bachelor (Latin/English/Greek)

©2016 All rights reserved.