You cannot map an English translation word for word onto its Greek equivalent for two main reasons:
- English tends to use more words than Greek, especially little words like pronouns (‘I’, ‘you’) and prepositions (‘of’, ‘to’).
- Greek word order is more free than English and usually different.
Why is the third word in a Greek text unlikely to be the equivalent of the third word in a parallel English translation?
a. The English word might be in a different position.
b. The English word might not be represented by a Greek word at all.
c. Both a. and b.
d. Neither a. nor b.
The correct answer is c.
For English speakers, coming to grips with word endings is usually the main challenge in learning Greek. It involves not only knowing the endings, but, more importantly, understanding their uses and their implications for the meaning of a sentence. We shall explore this in more detail in the next two sections. In the process, you may find yourself acquiring insights into the workings of English as well as Greek. And if you can overcome the thought that Greek is a language of missing words and a strange word order, then you are well on your way to thinking in Greek rather than in English.