Grammatical Terms Relating to English and Greek
Terms Related to Sentences in General
The subject of a sentence is a word or a group of words
about which something can be said or asserted. It must be a noun
or a group of words functioning as a substantive.
The predicate of a sentence is the part of the sentence that makes the assertion about the
subject. The main part of the predicate is a finite verb (which must be present). The predicate can be a verb alone, or a verb and other words related to it. Any part of
the sentence which is not a part of the subject is part of the predicate. The verb in a sentence may include an "unexpressed" subject. In
this kind of sentence, a subject is not explicitly stated but is implied by the verb. For
example: "Repent and be baptized for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near."
The subject of the compound verb "repent" and "be baptized" is
obviously the ones to whom this sentenced is addressed. It implies, "You repent and
A sentence is a group of words expressing a complete thought. A complete simple sentence
must include both a subject and a predicate (which is comprised of or includes a verb). For example: "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
'Jesus', a name of a person, is a noun and is the subject of this short sentence. (He is
obviously the one about which something is being said or asserted.) 'Wept' is the verb
and, by itself, comprises the predicate of the sentence. Another example: "Those who
worship Him must worship in spirit and reality." (John 4:24b) The subject (about
which something is being said) is 'those who worship Him'. The predicate, comprising both
the verb 'must worship' and its related words, is 'must worship in spirit and reality.'
Terms Related to Verbs
A verb is a word expressing action, occurrence, existence, or state of being. It is used
to tell or assert something about a noun (or substantive). In the broadest sense, a verb shows
A finite verb is one whose form changes in order to match the form of the subject. It can be the main verb
in the predicate part of a sentence
(whose form is governed by the subject of the sentence).
For example "The just shall live by faith".
A verb whose form does not change based upon any noun in the sentence and thus
cannot function as the main verb in the predicate of a
For example "A sower went forth to sow" or "...looking upon
them, Jesus said to them...".
Parsing a Verb
There are five basic parts that are clearly defined by every Greek verb form. Parsing a verb means to identify or describe these
five "parts" that make up that verb. ("Parse" is from the Latin word
"pars" which means "part"). These five parts are: Person, Number, Tense, Voice, and Mood.
There are two main categories of verbs:
1. Transitive Verbs
A transitive verb is a verb that 'transfers' the action to
and affects a noun (or substantive).
This noun that it transfers motion to is called the 'direct object'.
Therefore by the very nature of a transitive verb, it is a verb that requires a direct
object. Conversely, if there is a verb that has a direct object, it must be a transitive
verb. Without a direct object, the transitive verb would cause the sentence to be left
hanging and seem incomplete.
For example "Do not quench the
spirit" (I Thess 5:19). The understood subject of the sentence is 'you' (required
because of the imperative mood). (The verb, strictly speaking, is 'do quench'; however,
there is a very important adverb 'not' inserted here). If the sentence ended with "Do
not quench," the question could not help but be asked, "Do not quench
what?" The verb 'quench' requires a direct object to complete the meaning of the
sentence. Thus the noun 'spirit' is added as the direct object of the verb.
2. Intransitive Verbs
An intransitive verb is a verb that does not transfer action
to a noun (a direct object).
Therefore it is a verb that, by nature, does not have a direct object. In essence, the
action begins and ends with the subject of the sentence. For example "Unceasingly pray" (I
Thess 5:17). Again the understood subject of the sentence is 'you'. There is no transfer
of motion to a direct object. There are no further words necessary to make the sentence
Linking (Copulative) Verb
A linking verb (sometimes referred to as a copulative verb by grammarians) is a special
class of intransitive verbs. It is a verb used to equate, identify, or join together one
interchangeable substantive with another. It connects
the subject of the sentence
with a coordinating (or complementary) predicate. As
with other intransitive verbs, there is no direct object since
there is no action transferred. An example of linking verbs would be any form of the words
'is' or 'become'.
For example "The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are
life." (John 6:63b). Notice here that the noun 'words' is equated with the nouns
'spirit' and 'life' by the linking verb 'are'. It could be said that 'words' are equal to
'spirit' and to 'life'.
Terms Related to Nouns
A noun is a word that denotes a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun is also referred to
as a substantive. Besides all the common nouns, such as "man", "son", "truth",
"word", etc., there are also proper nouns, which are names of particular people
(e.g. Jesus Christ, Paul), of particular places (e.g. Ephesus, Rome), or of particular
things (e.g. Passover, Jews). Proper nouns are usually capitalized.
A substantive is a noun, pronoun,
or any word functioning like a noun. This could include such items like an adjective, participle,
infinitive used as the subject
or a direct object of the sentence. A substantive may be one
word or a group of words.
The direct object in a sentence is the substantive that receives the action of a transitive verb.
For example: "... receive with meekness the engrafted word..." (James
1:21). The word which is directly receiving the action of the finite verb
"receive", (answering the question "Receive what?") is the word
"word", and therefore it is the direct object of this sentence.
An indirect object is the person or thing that is indirectly affected by the action of the
verb. It is often translated in English by the phrase
"to somebody" or "for somebody (or something)".
For example: "I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens"
(Matt 16:19). The word "keys" is the direct object of
the transitive verb "give", and thus receives
the action of the verb. But the action of the verb is also indirectly affecting
"you" and therefore "to you" is said to be the indirect object of this
sentence. "To you" is answering the question, "give to whom?" or