Ancient Greek grammar
Ancient Greek grammar —here mainly referring to that
of the Attic dialect— is morphologically complex and
preserves several features of Proto-Indo-European mor-
phology. Nouns, adjectives, pronouns, articles, numerals
and especially verbs are all highly inflected. This article
is an introduction to this morphological complexity.
The Classical Greek script did not use accents. Accents
were devised in the Hellenistic era by scholars who
wanted make it easier for foreigners to learn Greek. The
general use of these accents began during the Byzantine
Empire. Modern Greek has used only two diacritics since
1982, namely the diaeresis and the acute.
The Ancient Greek script has seven diacritics (two
• Rough breathing (Greek: δασεῖα, Latin: spiritus
asper) (῾) is used only at the beginning of several
words and always when the word begins with υ or ρ.
In Ancient Greek it sounded like the English or
German h. The words that need a rough breathing
without beginning with υ or ρ are restricted.
• Smooth breathing (Greek: ψιλή, Latin: spiritus lenis)
(᾿) is used only at the beginning of words. In Ancient
Greek it meant that the beginning of the word had
no rough breathing. e.g.: ἄγγελος (ángelos
messenger), ἐπιφέρω (epiphérō cause)
• Acute accent (Greek: ὀξεῖα) (΄) is used on long or
short vowels or at the third syllable from the end. If
there is a long vowel before a long vowel it will
accept an acute accent. e.g.: κώμη (kṓmē hair),
ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos human).
• Grave accent (Greek: βαρεῖα) (`) is used on long or
short vowels and replaces the acute accent but only
on the last syllable. However it is not used when the
next word causes an inclination of the accent and
also when a punctuation mark follows. e.g.: ὁ καλὸς
ποιμὴν (ho kalòs poimḕn) but ἔλαφός τις (élaphós tis
a deer)—the word τις is behaving as being one word
with the ἔλαφος, ἐλθὲ Ἰωάννη (elthè Iōánnē come
John) but ἐλθέ, Ἰωάννη (elthé, Iōánnē come, John).
• Circumflex (Greek: