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ὅπως (ὡς, ἵνα) with indicative future: argument with verbs of caring


ἐσκόπει ὁ Μενεκλῆς ὅπως μὴ ἔσοιτο ἄπαις

‘Menekles strived not to remain childless.’ (Isaeus 2.10)

A subordinate clause in the indicative future (or subjunctive), introduced by ὅπως (ὡς is rare; ἵνα very rare), signals a goal as a subject or an object with verbs meaning 'to exert oneself,' 'to strive,' 'to see to it' or 'to commend'.

Lexical usage

Verbs of taking care

ἐπιμελέομαι, ἐπιμέλομαι, μέλει μοι ‘to take care that’, εὐλαβέομαι, ὁράω, σκοπέω, φροντίζω, φυλάττομαι ‘to see to it that’, μηχανάομαι ‘to contrive that’, παρασκεύαζομαι ‘to get ready to’, ποιέω ‘to bring about that’, σκεπτέον ἐστι ‘it should be seen to that’, σπεύδω ‘to exert oneself to’ etc.

Verbs of wanting (rare)

Verbs of wanting with meanings such as ‘to ask’, ‘to order’, ‘to enjoin’, ‘to exhort’ or ‘to forbid’, which usually take an infinitive as their object, sometimes take ὅπως (ὅπως μή) with the future indicative or the subjunctive.

Historical background

This construction seems to have originated from the coordination of a first main clause with a verb of caring and a second main clause, introduced by ὅπως or ὡς, with a future indicative. The original construction, therefore, must have meant something like: ‘I see to it. Thus it will happen.’, later reinterpreted as: ‘I see to it that it will happen.’


An object clause expressing a goal can be anticipated by τοῦτο or τούτου in the main clause. This signal word can distinguish this object clause from an adverbial final clause.


Frequencies of the use of tenses in the classical period (Amigues, apud Duhoux):

  • indicative future: 67,9 %
  • subjunctive without ἄν (analogous to the adverbial clause): 17,0 %
  • subjunctive with ἄν (plausible modality): 6,1 %
  • (oblique) optative: 7,2 %
  • optative (possibly modality): 1,5 %
  • infinitive: 0,3 %


The indicative future is usually retained after historic tenses. Nevertheless Xenophon in particular regularly opts for the (oblique) optative future.
A subjunctive is also possible, with the same force as the future indicative. When the subjunctive (or, after historic tenses, the oblique optative) is used, the clause in question is actually a final clause. This is particularly frequent in Xenophon.
The negation is usually ὅπως μή, but sometimes also μή, as in adverbial final clauses.

Example Sentences: 

ὡς δὲ καλῶς ἕξει τὰ ὑμέτερα, ἢν φίλοι γένησθε, ἐμοὶ μελήσει

I'll make sure your business goes well when you become our friends. [provisional translation]

τοῦτο δεῖ παρασκευάσασθαι ὅπως ὡς κράτιστα μαχοῦμεθα

We must prepare ourselves to fight as well as possible. ֍

εἰς δὲ τὸν ἐπίλοιπον χρόνον φυλακτέον ὅπως μηδὲν συμβήσεταί σοι τοιοῦτον.

In future you must take care that nothing like that will befall you again. ֍

παρασκευάζονται ὅπως ἕξουσι τὰ ἐπιτήδεια.

They are preparing themselves so that they will have what they need. ֍