Does the Greek Language Have Infinitive Verbs?

The topic of infinitive verbs in Greek is one of the most confusing ones for native and non-native Greek speakers. If you translate the word “infinitive” from English to Greek, the result will be “το απαρέμφατο”. However, the use and purpose of “το απαρέμφατο” in Modern Greek is not the same as of the use and purpose of the “infinitive” in English.

Το Απαρέμφατο | The “Official” Infinitive Form

The Greek infinitive verbs are rarely used on their own. Greek speakers use them in combination to particles (να/ θα) or the helping verb “έχω” (to have) to form different tenses and moods. For example, “εγώ τρώω” means “I eat”. In the future simple, the sentence transforms into “θα φάω” (I will eat). “Φάω” is the infinitive form of “τρώω”.

Unfortunately, you have to memorize the infinitive form of each verb. Sometimes the infinitive form is exactly the same as the first person singular of the Ενεστώτας (Present Tense), other times, these two forms of the verb have nothing in common. Here are some of the most common Greek verbs in the first person singular in Ενεστώτας (Present Tense) and in their infinitive form.

Greek Verbs in the Infinitive Form

  1. τρώω – φάω (eat – to eat)
  2. κάνω – κάνω (do – to do)
  3. γράφω – γράψω (write – to write)
  4. πουλάω – πουλήσω (sell – to sell)
  5. αγοράζω – αγοράσω (buy – to buy)
  6. κρατάω – κρατήσω (hold – to hold)
  7. μοιράζω – μοιράσω (share – to share)
  8. βγαίνω – βγω (go out – to go out)
  9. λαμβάνω – λάβω (receive – to receive)
  10. βάφω – βάψω (paint – to paint)
  11. πονάω – πονέσω (hurt – to hurt)
  12. αγαπάω – αγαπήσω (love – to love)
  13. περπατάω – περπατήσω (walk – to walk)
  14. πηγαίνω – πάω (go – to go)
  15. πίνω – πιώ (drink – to drink)

Ancient Greek Infinitive Verbs

In Ancient Greece, they used the infinitive as a non-finite verb form. It is a non declinable nominal verb form equivalent to a noun, similar to the gerund in English. Sometimes, modern Greek speakers still use ancient Greek infinitive verbs, so it is important to know how to recognize them. The ancient Greek infinitive verbs end with “ειν”, for example: “το φιλοσοφεῖν” (to “philosophize”, to pursue knowledge).

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Marialena Perpiraki is a journalist and writer from Athens, Greece. In 2020, she founded Helinika as a cross-media platform.