Introduction to Modern Greek Topic- Medio Passive Voice:
Lesson 6

By Linas

Good then... let’s get to the A conjugation of the past then. The A past is a bit rough, though, you know. The PAST A key is actually not a KEY but a THICK STICK.

The PAST A key is A THICK STICK because the endings you add are θηκ and στηκ.

Of course, that ηκ is the past endings that every single word in the passive past has (just like in the B category) so the PAST B key is θ and στ.

You might ask... why are there two instead of one? Well, the answer is simple: I don’t know. Perhaps those two keys sounded similar enough to Greeks so they thought it would be cool to have them both or whatever.

Answering which one to use, well, I hate to say this but you sometimes just have to remember. Or, you know what... if at doubt, just use στ!

I sometimes follow the sound of it and it seems to work for me in that I am able to guess them sometimes. But again:

Remember that it’s a thick stick but if at doubt, go with the stick (the key στ).

Now imagine the following situation:

You have a thick stick or at least a stick. You try to put it in the whole where a key goes... What happens?

Well, of course, it doesn’t fit and the last sound (that is, usually letter) of the root of the word gets crushed by the THICK STICK. It’s what happens for A category:

In A category the last sound from the root disappears because it gets crushed by the thick stick.

So, for example, we have ζωγραφίζω for I draw and its passive form is of course ζωγραφίζομαι.

It’s A category: you can see from the stress. If you go to the past, you go to the root first which is ζωγραφίζ and then you try to get the key from the thick stick. Let’s go with the stick (always go with it if at doubt) so you try to put a stick there... and, oops, the end gets crushed so you get ζωγραφί and then add the stick στ and the past ending ηκα so you get ζωγραφίστηκα for I was drown.

Talking about the crushing, when you remove the last letter, know that two consecutive consonants are treated as [one sound and also get crushed]! Examples of these are πτ, φτ, χν, γγ, σσ, ττ. They are consecutive thus they are so tightly stuck together that for our purposes (and in pronunciation) they sound almost like the same sound.

Let’s have a few examples.

Greek for I am heard is ακούγομαι.

How would you say:

he wasn’t heard

Answer: δεν ακούστηκε
Not correct. Please try again.

It sounds like acoustics, doesn’t it. Another one:

Greek for I judge is δικάζω.

Say now:

They were judged but they didn’t do it.

Answer: Δικάστηκαν αλλά δεν το έκαναν.
Not correct. Please try again.

There is more to the B past though. The thick stick is not exactly sufficient for us so we have another tool, which is called the-non-thick-stick cases.

If you ever wondered if sitting on your buttocks watching TV shows all day can ever help you with anything then yes it can because knowing the names of TV shows is going to help you speak Greek.

Here are the two TV shows that we will need:

PSI Factor and X-Chromosome

Here’s the rule for the-non-thick-stick-cases:

If the verb in its active past ends in ψa (like σκέφτο past would be έσκeψα) its PAST key is not θ or στ but actually φτ thus the passive is σκέφτηκα (think ψ - φ... just like in PSI Factor or if you like ψ- φactor).

If the verb in its active past ends in ξa (like ψάχνο becomes έψαξα) its PAST key is not θ or στ but actually χτ thus the passive is ψάχτηκα (think ξ - χ... just like in X-chromosome or if you like ξ - χromosome).

So, let’s get a couple of examples of these rules so you can wrap your head around them.

Greek for I write is γράφω, the past active form I wrote is έγραψα.

As you see, it ends in ψα so we will be applying the PSI-factor and our key will be φτ. How would you say:

it was written

Answer: γράφτηκε
Not correct. Please try again.

Well done. Let’s get one for the X-chromosome too:

Greek for I change (something) is αλλάζω which past active I changed (something) is άλλαξα.

How would you say:

I am changed

Answer: αλλάζομαι
Not correct. Please try again.

For the past, you will have the X-chromosome thus χτ key case:

we were changed

Answer: αλλάχτηκαμε
Not correct. Please try again.

Nice and clear. Now let’s get a summary of the passive past rules we learned today:

Passive past endings are ηκ+(α, ες, ε, αμε, ατε, αν).

For PAST B key just go with ηθ.

For PAST A key ... you don’t have a key except a θηκ στηκ (thick stick). Go with the στηκ if at doubt.

If you are still not sure and want better accuracy, for additional PAST A keys look at active past and remember two TV shows: X-Chromosome and PSI-Factor.

And then:

The accent in the past falls on the third syllable from the end.

This is what you need to know about the past and this mostly covers the main Greek passive conjugations. We will try to cover the remaining ones in the next lesson.