The Definite Article and Cases

Learning how to decline nouns and substantives in the Greek is very important; but it can also be quite daunting. However, the memorization of the definite articles can go a long way in helping one to recognize the case, gender and number of these important parts of speech. I highly encourage those wishing to incorporate the Greek into their daily studies to memorize this simple table. While it is not exhaustive, it does cover those cases most likely to be encountered in the scriptures.

The definite article is different in the Greek than it is in the English. There is no indefinite article in the Greek. However, its use can be implied by the absence of the article. More importantly the presence of the definite article identifies, whereas its absence qualifies. When the definite article is present, it is known as “arthrous”. When it is absent, it is known as “anarthrous”.

In the section immediately following the table is a brief description of these cases. I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding the use of these cases. Certain words change their meaning as a result of their case, e.g., dia can mean because of or on account of in the accusative or it can mean through or by in the genitive.

Nominative Case

This is the case of the subject. It is also used in the form of an appositive, renaming of the subject, in the predicate nominative and predicate adjective.

Genitive Case

This is the case of description. It may be used to describe ownership, quality, value, or source. Furthermore, it may be used in either a subjective or objective sense. When the genitive is used without the presence of a preposition, it can usually be translated as "of..."

Dative Case

This is usually the case of the indirect object. It is also used to indicate personal interest. In the absence of a preposition, the dative case can be translated as "to..." or "for..."

Accusative Case

This is the usual case for the direct object. It is used to describe direction, limitation or extent of action.