Principal parts

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alanmacall
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Joined: January 9th, 2017, 2:45 pm

Principal parts

Post by alanmacall » January 9th, 2017, 2:58 pm

Hi Everyone
I'm a beginner trying to self learn. My question is about the six principal parts. I understand that they are present, future, aorist, perfect, perfect middle/passive and aorist passive. But Why do we not for example include the imperfect? If it's because the imperfect has an augment then isn't the future similarly the same as the present but with just a sigma?

I also don't fully understand why this exists for verbs. Is there such an equivalent for nouns or the other parts of speech?
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Alan
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Principal parts

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 9th, 2017, 7:21 pm

Good question.

The Principal Parts are what you need to know the root for a verb in any given tense. If you know the root for the present, you know the root for the imperfect. The other Principal Parts also give you information for more than one tense.

This summary is helpful:
  • Part I forms the entire present system, as well as the imperfect.
  • Part II forms the future tense in the active and middle voices.
  • Part III forms the aorist in the active and middle voices.
  • Part IV forms the perfect and pluperfect in the active voice, and the (exceedingly rare) future perfect, active.
  • Part V forms the perfect and pluperfect in the middle voice, and the (rare) future perfect, middle.
  • Part VI forms the aorist and future in the passive voice.
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Wes Wood
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Re: Principal parts

Post by Wes Wood » January 9th, 2017, 9:25 pm

Jonathan's answer is a good one. Another way of thinking about the principal parts that may help is that they provide the learner with the minimum that he or she would need to know to be able to produce all* the different forms of a verb. Some of these principal parts are difficult to predict even with a better than average grasp of morphology. Even the futures, which are often easily recognizable, have some forms that are quite different than what you may expect. For example, εὑρίσκω (present) and εὑρήσω (future). The imperfect, by contrast, is far more regular. Hope this helps, and welcome to the forum! :)

*This should be qualified a bit, but it is mostly true.
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alanmacall
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Re: Principal parts

Post by alanmacall » January 10th, 2017, 8:56 am

Thanks for the responses!
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Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Principal parts

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 10th, 2017, 10:36 am

Another way to look at is the the principal parts give you everything you need to generate and recognize any form of the verb. Each principal part is a different stem of the verb. If the verb formation derives from the same stem, then it's not necessary to include it as a separate principal part, hence the imperfect does not need a principal part because it uses the present stem, and the future middle does not need an additional principal part because it forms from the future stem.

There is quite a bit of discussion whether the principal parts should be memorized or should they be learned in context as one reads more and more of the language. I say, false dichotomy, do both :D
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Principal parts

Post by Stephen Hughes » January 10th, 2017, 3:14 pm

alanmacall wrote:I'm a beginner trying to self learn. ... Is there such an equivalent for nouns or the other parts of speech?
Hi Alan.

There is a lot of memorisation involved in learning principal parts. Some of them are "regular", and can more or less be guessed or predicted analogously from the principal parts of, say, λύω. The ones that are not regular, and which will give you a greater return for your rote learning hours, are categorised into two groups. The first, are those that have the same or similar roots in all six parts, but have undergone extensive modifications that make it difficult to even guess which verb they are from - eg. πίπτω "I'm falling". The secod group are those which have different roots in some or other of the various principal parts, the so-called "suppletives" - eg. ἔρχομαι "I'm coming".

In short, the more common verbs, whose principal parts are the most striking or least predictable, are those that are worth pioritising for memorisation.

In regard to nouns and adjectives, 70% follow the most common regular patterns of about 7 different forms. You can learn about 8 tables, and that will do you for those. Then, 25% of nouns and adjectives follow the 15 or 30 not-so-common, but still quite regular patterns, for which I suggest you learn in the order of most common to least common. The other 5% - about 100 words - are those, which won't seem to follow regular patterns, and will need require some individual attention for you to master their paradigmatic tables.

A reasonable goal for effective memorisation might be the full six principal parts of 3 verbs a week, or two declensional tables a weeks. Tackle the things that will give you the biggest returns soonest.

Most other word classes don't decline or conjugate,
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alanmacall
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Re: Principal parts

Post by alanmacall » January 11th, 2017, 3:20 pm

Thanks again for responses

Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek
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Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek

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