Inflection in the Greek Language

In the English language, the function that a noun performs is based upon its position in the sentence. Consider the following verse from Romans 16:20, "But the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly." As a reader of English, one has no problem in quickly discerning who is the subject of the sentence (the one doing the crushing) and what is the direct object of the verb (the one being crushed).

Because the noun "God" comes before the verb "will crush", the English reader sees "God" as the subject of the sentence, the performer of the verb's action. The noun "Satan" comes after the verb and is thus considered the recipient of the verb's action.

However, consider the meaning of the sentence if the words of this verse were put in the following order: "But Satan shortly under your feet will crush the God of peace." Consider the reason why one would call this perversion a blasphemy. All the same words are in this sentence, but their positions have been rearranged. Since the order of the words have changed, the reader of English understands that their role in the sentence has also changed. This example clearly illustrates how important "word order" is in the English language.

The Greek language, however, operates altogether differently. It is what is called a fully "inflected language." Each Greek word actually changes form (inflection) based upon the role that it plays in the sentence. Verbs also inflect (change forms) to indicate things such as person, tense, mood, etc. Regardless of the order of the words in Romans 16:20, the reader of Greek would still be perfectly clear as to the fate of God's enemy and would not in the least be concerned about the possible demise of the God of peace.

Thus it is important to understand what the case of each Greek noun indicates and what the form of every Greek verb is implying.

(However, it should be noted that Greek word order does make a difference in many instances and is often used for the purpose of placing emphasis on certain elements within a sentence. Greek word order will be discussed at length later on.)

 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Created by Corey Keating at: