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Participle: argument with verbs of perception and emotions


οὐκ οἶσθ᾽ ἐξαπατώμενος πάλαι;

‘Do you not know that you are being deceived?’ (Aristoph. Birds 1641)

The participle signals an object agreeing with verbs of (sensory or mental) perception and emotions.

Lexical usage

The meaning of a verb often changes depending on whether it is followed by an infinitive or a participle.

Verbs of perceiving and knowing
  • {seeing and noticing} αἰσθάνομαι ‘to perceive’, δείκνυμι ‘to show’ (with inf. ‘to enjoin’), δηλόω ‘to prove’ (with inf. ‘to enjoin’), δοκιμάζω ‘to appear’ (with inf. ‘to approve’), ἔοικα (+ nom. ‘to seem to’, + dat. ‘to seem like’; with inf. ‘to appear to’), ὁράω ‘to see’ (often with present participle), ποιέω ‘to present’ (with inf. ‘to cause’ or ‘to accept’), σημαίνω ‘to show’;
  • {hearing and perceiving} ἀκούω, ἀκροάομαι ‘to hear’, εὑρίσκω ‘to find that, to judge’ (with inf. ‘to find out, discover’), πυνθάνομαι ‘to learn’;
  • {knowing and realising} ἀγγέλλω ‘to announce’, γιγνώσκω ‘to realise’ (with inf. ‘to judge, learn’), ἐπιλανθάνομαι ‘to forget that’ (with inf. ‘to forget how’), ἐπίσταμαι and οἶδα ‘to know’ (also with ὅτι or ὡς; with inf. ‘to be capable of’), κατανοέω ‘to suspect’, μέμνημαι (+ genitive present participle; + nominative aorist participle.) ‘to remember that’ (with inf. ‘to remember to do something’), μανθάνω ‘to find out’ (with inf. ‘to learn’), νοέω ‘realise’ (also with ὡς), νομίζω ‘to be of the opinion’ (also with ὡς), σύνοιδα ‘to know well, to be aware of’.
Verbs expressing a frame of mind
  • {emotions} αἰσχύνομαι ‘to be ashamed about doing something’ (with inf. ‘… to do something’), ἀναίνομαι ‘to disown, be ashamed’ (with inf. ‘to refuse’), ἄχθομαι ‘to be annoyed’, ἐθέλω ‘to be willing’ (also with inf.), ἥδομαι ‘to enjoy oneself’, μεταμέλομαι ‘to repent, to be sorry’, χαίρω ‘to be delighted’ (+ acc. or dat.), χαρίζομαι ‘to gratify with…’;
  • {judging} ἀδικέω ‘to act unjustly by…’, εὖ/κακῶς/καλῶς ποιέω of λέγω ‘to speak good or bad of…’;
  • {persevering} ἀνέχομαι ‘to persevere in…’ (sometimes with inf.), ἡττάομαι ‘to be worsted’, περιοράω ‘to look at with indifference’ (with present participle) or ‘to close one's eyes to’ (with aorist participle), but ‘to let happen’ (with inf.), ὑπομένω ‘to endure’ (with inf. ‘to have good courage to’) [in poetry also μένω, τολμάω and τλάω].

Syntactic usage

Ways of approaching this construction

In the sentence “ὁρᾷς ἐμὲ ἡμαρτηκότα” (‘you see that I have made a mistake’) ἐμὲ can be seen as an object of ὁρᾷς, with which ἡμαρτηκότα agrees. At the same time ἐμὲ can be regarded as the subject of ἡμαρτηκότα, functioning in its turn as an embedded object of ὁρᾷς.

Coreference with the subject

If the subject of the participle is coreferential with the subject, the participle appears in the nominative and the subject is not expressed (ὁρᾷς ἡμαρτηκώς: you see that you have made a mistake). In a non-coreferential situation both the participle and the subordinate subject appear in the same case, usually the accusative (ὁρᾷς ἐμὲ ἡμαρτηκότα: you say that I have made a mistake). In the first case traditional grammars speak of a nominativus cum participio, in the second case of an accusativus (or genitivus or dativus) cum participio.

The expression of temporality

The participle, which replaces the indicative in direct speech, expresses temporality. Thus the participle in the aorist expresses an action which is anterior to the main verb.

Historical background

With verbs of speaking the participle only occurs from the fifth century B.C. onwards, and even then only rarely (Crespo e.a. 2003).


In the first two books of his Histories Thucydidies opts for a participle in 77,7% of the cases where he could also have chosen an infinitive clause or a finite completive clause (Coppieters, apud Duhoux).


In rare cases a participium completivum is accompanied by ὡς or ὥσπερ.
If the main verb is aorist, its complementary participle has the tendency to take the aorist too.

Example Sentences: 

οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι γεωργοὶ καὶ νομεῖς ἔχαιρον πόνων τε ἀπηλλαγμένοι πρὸς ὀλίγον

The other farmers and shepherds were glad that they were freed from their labours for a little while. ֍

οὐ γὰρ μόνον τοῦτον τὸν στέφανον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ἅπαντας ἐπίσταται αὑτοῦ ὄντας

For he knows that not only that laurel wreath, but all those that follow, are his.

καλῶς ποιεῖτε παίζειν καὶ κωμάζειν, ἕως ἔξεστι, τοῖς βουλομένοις μὴ φθονοῦντες.

You do well not to be envious of those who wish to enjoy themselves or to feast while they can.

στυγεῖ δὲ παῖδας οὐδʼ ὁρῶσʼ εὐφραίνεται.

She [Medea] abhors her children, and it gives her no pleasure to look at them.

ἓν δὲ τοῦτο θαυμάσιον ἔχω ἀγαθόν, ὅ με σῴζει· οὐ γὰρ αἰσχύνομαι μανθάνων

But I have one wonderful quality which comes to my rescue: I do not hesitate to learn. ֍

ἴσθ’ ὀχληρὸς ὢν δόμοις.

Know that you are a plague to my palace! [preliminary translation]