Does modern Greek still use the six tenses of classical Greek?

By: | Post date: 2016-10-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

No, thank God. Although there’s some noteworthy continuities in what has survived: the morphology and semantics are pretty much the same. In the indicative:

  • Present: yes.
  • Imperfect: yes. The imperfect shows up in subjunctive contexts, to do the work of the erstwhile optative.
  • Aorist: yes.
  • Future: no. Replaced by a succession of auxiliary formations (μέλλω, έχω, να subjunctive, θέλω); the θέλω formation has prevailed, and is now a θα particle. Just like the will future in English.
  • Perfect: no. Replaced by auxiliary formation, with have or be. Just like the perfect in English.
  • Pluperfect: no. Replaced by auxiliary formation, with had or was. Just like the perfect in English.
  • Future perfect: no. Replaced by auxiliary formation, with θα and have or be. Just like the future perfect in English.

In the subjunctive, imperative, and participle, the present/aorist distinction survives, and is purely aspectual.

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