εἰ with the indicative: neutral condition

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νόμιζε δ’, εἰ σὺ τὴν σαυτοῦ φιλεῖς | ψυχήν, φιλεῖν ἅπαντας

Bedenk, als je hecht aan je eigen leven, te hechten aan ieders leven.


A subordinate clause in the indicative, introduced by εἰ, signals a neutral condition as a satellite. The indicative gives no indication of the attainability of the condition. In the main clause any mood or tense may be used.

Lexical usage

Conditional clauses usually take the indicative when the conditional nuance is very weak (often in complimentary phrases): εἰ βούλει ‘if you want to’, εἴ σοι φίλον ‘if it pleases you, please’, εἰ δοκεῖ ‘if it seems good to you’.
If the speaker juxtaposes two conditions, he uses one of the two following constructions:

  • (compatible with each other) εἴτε… εἴτε… ‘whether… or…’
  • (excluding each other) εἰ μέν… εἰ δέ… ‘if… but if…’

Syntactic behaviour

The following tenses are possible in the conditional clause:

  • present or perfect (present);
  • imperfect, aorist or pluperfect (past);
  • future or future perfect (future).


Note: a conditional clause only rarely contains a future.

Other information

In traditional grammars the neutral condition is known as a realis. This is not an accurate term, since the speaker gives no indication of the factuality of the condition.

Example Sentences: 


εἰ γὰρ οὗτοι ὀρθῶς ἀπέστησαν, ῡ̒μεῖς ἂν οὐ χρεὼν ἄρχοιτε

Want als zij [= de Mityleners] terecht in opstand zijn gekomen, dan zouden jullie [= de Atheners] onterecht aan de macht blijven.



εἰ θεοί τι δρῶσιν αἰσχρόν, οὐκ εἰσὶν θεοί

Als de goden iets beschamends doen, dan zijn ze geen goden.

Euripides, Fragmenten (ed. Nauck) 292.7



εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι, μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω

If somebody will not work he may not eat.