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οὐ μή with future indicative in main clause: strong negation


οἵ γε Ἀρμένιοι οὐ μὴ δέξονται τοὺς πολεμίους.

‘The Armenians will never withstand their enemies.’ (Xen. Cyrop. 3.2.8)

The future indicative, preceded by οὐ μή, signals a strong negation in the future.

Historical background

This construction is equivalent in meaning to οὐ μή + aorist subjunctive, and probably originates from it. The change to the future indicative is accounted for by morphological motivations (the similarity between the aor. subj. and the fut. ind.) as well as by semantic motivations (the similarity between the plausible modality and the future tense).


This relatively rare construction, which occurs almost exclusively in the first and third persons, occurs several times in the New Testament, Xenophon and the tragic writers.

Example Sentences: 

ἀλλ’ εἴσιθ’. οὔ σοι μὴ μεθέψομαί ποτε

No, go inside. I will never follow you. [provisional translation]

τοὺς μὲν γὰρ πονηροὺς οὐ μή ποτε βελτίους ποιήσετε, τοὺς δὲ χρηστοὺς εἰς τὴν ἐσχάτην ἀθυμίαν ἐμβαλεῖτε

For you will never make the wicked better, but you will plunge the good into extreme discouragement. [provisional translation]

ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσουσιν ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν

They will certainly not follow a stranger, but they will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. ֍

ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται.

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will not. ֍