Greek verbs have two voices:
- Active voice (ενεργητική φωνή): Generally used when the Subject of the sentence is performing an action.
- Passive voice (παθητική φωνή): Generally used when the Subject of the sentence undergoes an action or is in a certain state.
To learn more about Parts of the Sentence and what a Subject is, go here.
A verb is in the active voice if its subject is active, that is to say if it does the action.
All verbs in the active voice end in either “-ω” or “-ώ” (the second one has an accent).
τρώω (I eat)
φεύγω (I leave)
τρέχω (I walk)
χτενίζω (I comb)
Verbs in the active voice, when they end with the sound “ο”, are always spelled with an “-ω” (omega) and when they end with the sound “ε”, are always spelled with an “- ε” (epsilon).
περπατάω (I walk), θέλω (I want), να φύγω (to leave)
φύγε (leave), ελάτε (come), παίζατε (you were playing), θα διαβάσουμε (we will read)
The Passive voice is used when it is important to emphasize on the action done, or when it is unknown who or what is doing the action.
Passive voice verbs, in the present first person singular, usually end with “-ομαι”.
They can also end in: “-ιέμαι”, “-άμαι” and more rarely in “-ούμαι” or “-ώμαι”.
χτενίζομαι – I comb (myself)
ξυρίζομαι – I shave (myself)
κρατιέμαι – I hold myself
κοιμάμαι – I sleep
εγγυούμαι – I guarantee
As you can see from the examples above there are verbs which can be found in both the Active and the Passive voice.
|Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|χτενίζω – I comb (something)||χτενίζομαι – I comb (myself)|
|ντύνω – I dress (something)||ντύνομαι – I dress(myself)|
|πλένω – I wash (something)||πλένομαι – I wash (myself)|
|σηκώνω – I lift||σηκώνομαι – I get up|
Η Μαρία χτενίζει τα μαλλιά της. – Maria is combing her hair.
Η Μαρία χτενίζει την κούκλα της. – Maria is combing her doll.
Η Μαρία χτενίζεται. – Maria is combing (herself – implied).
There are also verbs which occur only in one or the other.
έχω – I have
τρέχω – I run
γίνομαι – I become
κοιμάμαι – I sleep
φοβάμαι – I fear (I am afraid)
Converting from Active Voice to Passive Voice
Ο Νίκος πληρώνει τον λογαριασμό.
Nikos pays the bill.
Here the Subject is “Ο Νίκος” and the Object is “τον λογαριασμό”. Ιn the Passive Voice this sentence becomes:
Ο λογαριασμός πληρώνεται από τον Νίκο.
The bill is paid for by Nikos.
Here the subject is “Ο λογαριασμός” (which was the object in the previous sentence). The Subject is converted to a phrase with the Preposition “από” (“by”).