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The voice is a grammatical category which generally reflects whether the initiator of an action, represented by the verb, is the subject, or the person or thing which undergoes the action or is influenced by it.

  • In the first case, when the subject of the action described by the verb, is the initiator, we call it an active verb. In the second case, when the subject undergoes the action or is influenced by it, we are dealing with a passive verb.
  • In Modern Greek many verbs (not all) have a second set forms for every tense, expressing the passive voice.
  • The active voice (the subject of the verb is the agent)
  • Verbs which denote how the subject performs the action or causes the happening, are active verbs. The active verbs are distinguished as transitive and intransitive. Transitive verbs render the action which the subject carries out at a person, animal, thing or in a situation. The intransitive forms are the verbs of which the action of the subject is not rendered.
Examples with transitive verbs in the active voice:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Η Ελένη πλένει τα πιάτα. Helen washes the dishes.
Ο Γιάννης χτίζει ένα σπίτι. John built a house.
Η ζώη σπουδάζει ιατρική. Zowie studies medicins.

A.m. sentences are in the active voice whereby the subject carries out the act. They are transitive because they are accompanied by a direct object.

On the next link more about the transitive verbs

Examples with intransitive verbs in the active voice:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Τα παιδιά παίζουν έξω. The children are playing outside.
Μένω μέσα. I stay inside.
Η ζώη σπουδάζει στο εξωτερικό. Zowie studies abroad.

Some active verbs can be used transitive and intransitive.

The active form is used more often than the passive, mainly in the everyday spoken language and not in the formal written language.

On the next link more about the intransitive verbs

  • The middle passive voice, (the subject acts on or for itself)
Some examples:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Η Ελένη πλένεται. Helen is washing herself.
Ντύθηκε ωραία για το παρτι. She dressed herself nice for the party.
Καμιά φορά ξυρίζεται. Sometimes he shaves himself.
Κρύβομαι πίσο από το τοίχο. I hide myself behind the wall.

The middle passive voice is clear in a.m. sentences, the subject performs the action and is the recipient of it.

  • The passive voice, the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, i.o.w. the subject is the recipient, but not the doer.
Some examples:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Πληρώνομαι την πρώτη του μηνάς. I am paid on the first of the month.
Οι φωνές τους ακούγονταν ως έξω. Their voices were heard outside.
Οι αστυνομικόι αυτοί θεωρούνται έντιμοι. These agents are considered to be fair.
Αυτός χάθηκε στο δάσος. He got lost in the woods.

The passive voice is used in a.m. sentences, the subject ondergoes the action or is influenced by it.

Click here for the real passive voice!

Middle passive and passive, are similar in form only its definition varies.

The suffix indicates the voice, «-ω / -ώ» for the active voice and «-μαι» for the passive voice.

One of the functions of the passive voice to display the part of the sentence which is related with the object of the active verb, e.g.:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
aΟι γονείς της έκριναν την άδικη συμπεριφορά της. Her parents judged her unfair behavior.
bΗ άδικη συμπεριφορά της κρίθηκε από τους γονείς της. Her unfair behavior was judged by her parents.
aΟ διευθυντής με απαγόρευσε να πάρει μια μέρα της άδειας. The manager forbade me to take a day off.
bΜε απαγορεύτηκα να πάρω μια μέρα της άδειας από το(ν) διευθυντής. I was forbidden by the manager to take a day off.
aΟι υπάλληλοι του δήμου μαζεύουν τα σκουπίδια κάθε πρωί. The employees of the municipality collect garbage every morning.
bΤα σκουπίδια μαζεύονται κάθε πρωί από τους υπάλληλους του δήμου. This garbage is collected every morning by the municipality employees.

When we change the characteristics of a sentence, as in the b phrases, making the direct object the subject of the sentence is, it may be a motive to use a passive construction with the preposition «από".

Detailed explanation of the preposition «από»

Generally we can say that:
- the passive voice belongs to a transitive active construction and not to an intransive active verb.
- The passive voice occurs in both constructions either transive or intransive, in which the subject either undergoes the action or is influenced by it.

The passive morphology can be used in three different ways (Unless with verbs without active voices or verbs of different meanings in the active and passive voices), viz:

  • True passive, i.e. the grammatical subject is the object or the person or thing that undergoes the action. This may occur in the following cases:
  • When the sentence can be replaced by an active sentence without changing the meaning (such as in the following sentences a and b):
ελληνικά αγγλικά
aΤην Ελένη την χάθηκε το μαιδί της μέσα στο πλήθο. lit. Helen, she lost her child in the crowd.
bΗ Ελένη έχασε το παιδί της μέσα στο
Helen, she lost her child in the crowd.
aΤην Κυβέρνησή της ζητήθηκε από το έθνο να παραιτηθεί. lit.The Government was asked by the people to resign.
bΤο έθνος ζήτησε την κυβέρνηση να παραιτηθεί. The people asked the government to resign.
  • When the acting person (the instrument) is mentioned or when the sentence is in a non-real or abstract form:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Τα τριαντάφυλλα περικόπηκαν από τον κηπουρό. The roses were pruned by the gardener.
H Aλεξάνδρεια χτίστηκε από το Mέγα Aλέξανδρο. Alexendria was built by Alexander the Great.
  • When the living acting person appears in a probably indefinite situation:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Η Πόπη φιλήθηκε από πολλούς. Poppy was kissed by many (people).
Ο ηθοποιός λατρευόταν από πολλά κορίτσια. The actor was adored by many girls.
  • When the living acting person or persons are definable described:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Oι καλεσμένοι επιτέθηκαν στον μπουφέ. The guests fell upon the buffet.
Ο Γιάννης προσβλήθηκε από την οικογένειά του. John was offended by his family.
  • The least likely use of the true passive voice is as the living acting person in singular is mentioned specifically. This will be found in the more official language, under influence of the katharevousa, than in the colloquial language (sentences a and b):
ελληνικά αγγλικά
aΤο δέντρο κόπηκε από το Νίκο. The tree was chopped down by Nico.
bΤο δέντρο το έκοψσε ο Νίκος. Nico chopped down the tree.

The true passive voice is often used when the acting person is not explicit mentioned.

  • Reflexive*, i.e. a verb of which the living acting person carries out an action by him- or herself or shows with his or her action that the consequences are for him- or herself.
  • This can only be reproduced with certain general active verbs, by using the object «τον έαυτό του» - himself or with a passive verb like in the following sentences:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Θεωρεί τον εαυτό του συμπαθητικό. He considered himself as nice.
θεωρείται συμπαθητικός. He is considered as nice.
  • However when the content is unambiguously (i.e. when no misunderstanding is possible) only the passive form is used:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Κοιτάχτηκε στόν καθρέφτη. He/She looked in the mirror.
Πήγαινε να κοιταχτεί τα μάτια του. He had his eyes checked.
  • There are some verbs of wich the passive voice only can be reflexive, like «σηκώνω» - to raise, lift, heave and «σηκώνομαι» - to get up, rise.
  • From another point of view however, it is possible that the unambiguous character of a phrase, which is interpreted as reflexive, is seen as a causative factor in an appropriate situation. Consequently a well defined meaning will be difficult to recognize, like in «ξυρίζομαι» - to shave (I shave myself) and «ξυρίζομαι στόν κουρέα» - I am being shaved at the barber (shop). Then the only way to express unambiguous meaning by adding «μόνος (μου)» - myself:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Σκοτώθηκε μόνο του. He killed himself.
Το παιδί πρέπει να μάθει να ντύνεται μόνος του. The child has to learn to dress himself alone.
  • Reciprocal**, i.e. if someone or something have a inter relationship.
  • As long as the situation is clear, subject shich perform the action to eachother, can use a passive verb, mosty in plural:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Xτυπήθηκαν από σφαίρα στον αγώνα. They fought (with eachother) in the match for the ball.
Aγαπιούνται πολύ και λένε να παντρευτούν. They love eachother very much and say they (will) get married.
  • When we use a collective noun,like a couple or a pair then obviously, the verb is used in singular:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Το ζευγάρι κοιτάζεται στά μάτια. The couple look eachother in the eye.
Το μαχαιροπίρουνο χρησιμοποιείται συχνά. The cutlery is used extensively.
  • The interpretation of a passive verb form is in many cases independent from the text context, but it is qualified by the verb itself. For instance «βλέπεστε», therefore can not be interpreted otherwise than you see eachother and «ακούγεστε» not otherwise than you are being heard. However, to avoid ambiguities, the reciprocal meaning can be complemented with the phrase «μεταξύ τους» - between/among themselves after an active and passive verb:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Μοιάζουν μεταξύ τους. They look alike.
Πειραζόμαστε μεταξύ μας. We tease eachother.
  • In some cases, the prefix «άλληλο-» with an active verb is used to denote the reciprocal character of the expression:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Αλληλογραφώ τακτικά με τους φίλους μου στο εξωτερικό. I correspond regularly with my friends abroad.
Tου αρέσει να αλληλοκατηγορεί όλο τον κόσμο. He likes to criticize everyone (condemn).
  • The prefix «άλληλο-» is normally only used with passive verbs in the plural:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Το ζευγάρι αλληλοπαντρεύτηκε. The couple married within the family.
Αλληλοσυνδέθηκε το ίντερνετ σε αυτή τη χώρα They locked the Internet in that country.
  • Alternatively reciprocal expressions can be composed by adding to active verbs in singular and plural, the phrase «ο ένας τον άλλο» - lit. The one the other:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Δεν μιλάμε ο ένας στον άλλο (of: μεταξύ τους). We do not speak to each other.
Πλησιάζουν ο ένας τον άλλο (of: μεταξύ τους). They approach each other.
Ο ένας κείταξε τον άλλο χωρίς να μιλούν. One looked at the other without speaking.

* reflexive = recurrent

** reciprocal = mutual

Not all verbs belong to the same pattern. Many verbs occur only in one or two models, while for others the relation between active and passive, and the meaning of action and to undergo an action does not persist.

There are transitive active verbs, which don't have passive voices. The so called deponent verbs are passive verbs with active meanings. And there are active verbs of which the meanings completely change, when used passive, etc.

Because of all these facts, we need to limit the active and the passive voices to the formal distinction between the endings of the two types of verbs, and proceed to denote the various types of use when it occurs.

Below are some verbs (not all) that presenting an exception, inclusive some examples.

Verbs which express a feeling or understanding with an active ending, of which the meaning is not active:
  • πεινάω
  • διψάω
  • πονάω
  • νιώθω
  • ακούω
  • βλέπω
  • to be hungry
  • to be thirsty
  • to have pain, suffer
  • to feel
  • to hear, listen
  • to see

Some of these vebs as ακούω, βλέπω and πονάω are transitive. πονάω can also be used intransitive in the meaning of I feel pain and ακούω and βλέπω even have passive voices.

πεινώ and διψάω are intransitive verbs.

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Δεν πεινάω, θα φάω αργότερα. I'm not hungry, I will eat later.
Mε δίψασε το παστό ψάρι. The salted fish made me thirsty.
Όταν έμαθε το θάνατό της, πόνεσε πολύ. When he heard of her death, he suffered a lot.
Νιώθω την αγανάκτησή μου να με πνίγει. I feel that my indignation suffocated me.
Eίναι κουφός, δεν ακούει καθόλου. He/she is deaf, he/she does not hear anythings.
Bλέπει μόνο με το ένα μάτι. He/she sees with only one eye.
Some active transitive verbs may express an action, not don't have a relative passive voice:
  • μαλώνω
  • φωνάζω
  • κάνω
  • ξέρω
  • θέλω
  • περιμένω
  • to rebuke, reprimand
  • to yell, scream
  • to make, do
  • to know
  • to want
  • to wait for
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Tον μάλωσε ο δάσκαλος, γιατί μιλούσε. The teacher reprimanded him, because he spoke.
Αυτός φώναξε όσο πιο δυνατά μπορούσε. He yelled as hard as he could.
Tι θα κάνεις σήμερα; What are you going to do today?
Δεν ξέρει τίποτα από μαθηματικά. He/She does nog know anything of mathematics.
Θα ήθελα ένα δωμάτιο,
I would like to have a room, please.
Περίμενε! μη φεύγεις ακόμα. Wait! don't go yet.
Active transitive verbs, which have in the passive voice another meaning:
  • βλέπω (βλέπομαι)
  • κοιτάζω (κοιτάζομαι)
  • τρώω (τρώγομαι)
  • to see, to be seen
  • to look at
  • to eat
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Δε βλεπόμαστε συχνά. We don't often meat eachother.
Πρέπει να κοιτάξεις την αρτηριακή πίεσή σου. You have to check your bloodpressure (by the doctor).
Δεν είναι όμορφη, αλλά τρώγεται. It is not nice, but accept it.
The deponent verb has only a passive voice with an active meaning, such as:
  • αισθάνομαι
  • αρνούμαι
  • δέχομαι
  • εργάζομαι
  • έρχομαι
  • μιμούμαι
  • ντρέπομαι
  • φαίνομαι
  • φοβάμαι
  • to feel
  • to refuse
  • to accept
  • to labor
  • to come
  • to imitate
  • to be ashamed
  • to seem, appear
  • to fear, be afraid
Examples «αισθάνομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ο άρρωστος δεν αισθάνεται καλά. The patient did not feel well.
Δεν αισθάνεται πια, είναι σε κώμα. He/she feels nothing anymore, he/she is in a coma.
Aισθάνθηκε ξαφνικά ένα δυνατό πόνο στο στομάχι. He/she suddenly felt a sharp pain in the stomach.

«αισθάνομαι» is an intransitive verb (without a direct object) with the meaning of «how somebody is feeling» and transitive with the meanin of what is somebody feeling (with a direct object)

When it gets another meaning, like many verbs do, it is also used transitive. Then the meaning is to understand:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Eίναι ακόμα παιδί και δεν αισθάνεται. She/he is still a child and she/he does not understand.
Πρέπει να αισθανόμαστε τα προβλήματα των άλλων. We have to understand the problems of others.
Examples «αρνούμαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Αρνούμαι να κάνω όσα πολλά δύσκολα πράγματα. I refuse to do so much difficult things.
Τον αρνήθηκαν βοήθεια χτες. They refused to help him yesterday.
Examples «δέχομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Δέχτηκε την ενοχή του. He accepted his guilt.
Δέχομαι τις φίλες μου για καφέ σήμερα. Today I receive my girl friends for coffee.
Examples «εργάζομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Tην Kυριακή οι υπάλληλοι δεν εργάζονται. On Sunday the workers do not work.
Σε όλη του τη ζωή εργάστηκε για την ειρήνη. He spent (worked) his enture life on peace.
Ο χρόνος εργάζεται για το Γιάννη. The time is in John's favor.

«εργάζομαι» is transitive and means to work or to labor. In the last sentence the verb is used abstractly and means literally The time working for John (to his advantage)

Examples «έρχομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ήρθε χθες από την Aθήνα. She/he came from Athens yesterday.
Τα χελιδόνια έρχονται στην άνοιξη. The swallows arrive in the spring.
Ήρθε στην κατάλληλη ηλικία για να παντρευτεί. He reached the appropriate age to marry.

«έρχομαι» is an intransive verb (used with an direct object). In the last sentence the meaning of the verb to reach, used transitive.

«έρχομαι» has plenty of abstract meanings, where the verb is used transitive:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Mου έρχονται δάκρυα στα μάτια. I get tears in my eyes (lit.: With me, the tears come into the eyes).
Tης ήρθε το χρώμα στο πρόσωπο. She blushed in her face (lit.: A color came in her face).
Examples «μιμούμαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Αυτά τα παιδιά μιμούνται τους γονείς τους. These children are imitating their parents
Μιμούνταν τον δάσκαλό του εξαιρετικό καλά. He imitated his teacher extremely well.
Examples «ντρέπομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ντρέπεται να μιλήσει μπροστά σε ξένους. He/she is shy to talk to strangers.
Mη με ντρέπεσαι, μίλησέ μου ελεύθερα. Do not betray me, speak to me openly
Ντράπηκε ότι την κοίταξε κρυφά γυμνή. He was ashamed that he secretly looked at her naked.
Examples «φαίνομαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Δεν φαίνεσαι και πολύ καλά. You don't look good.
Πώς σου φαίνεται το φόρεμά μου; What do you think of my dress?
Δεν του φαίνονται τα χρόνια του. He does not look his age.
Από πού φαίνεται ότι είναι πλούσιος; Έτσι φαίνεται! Which shows that he's rich? It seems so!
Examples «φοβάμαι»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Φοβάται για τη ζωή του. He fears for his life.
Φοβάμαι να πάω έξω. I am afraid to go outside.
Verbs of which the aorist and perfect tenses are missing:
  • ανήκω
  • είμαι
  • ευθύνομαι
  • έχω
  • μάχομαι
  • ξέρω
  • οφείλω
  • τρέμω
  • χρωστ -άω/-ώ
  • to belong to
  • to be
  • to be responsible
  • to have
  • to fight
  • to know
  • to be obliged
  • to tremble
  • to be guilty
ελληνικά αγγλικά
ανήκωΑνήκει πια στο παρελθόν. It's is something from the past.
είμαιΕίμαι με τα παιδιά στο μπαρ. I am in the bar with the boys.
ευθύνομαιΕυθύνομαι μολαταύτα. I am responsible anyway.
έχωΈχει σπίτι και αυτοκίνητο. He has a house and a car.
μάχομαιΜάχονταν ως το τέλος They fought it out until the bitter end.
ξέρωΠού να ξέρω εγώ; How should I know?
οφείλωΟφείλουμε να κάνουμε κάτι. We are obliged to do something.
τρέμωΈτρεμε σαν το φύλλο. He/She trembled like a leave (of a tree).
χρωστάωΤι σου χρωστάω; What have I done to you?