You are here

εἰ with the indicative: neutral condition


εἰ δὲ σώζειν οὐ θέλεις, λάβε τὸ ξίφος.

‘If you do not want to let me live: here is the sword.’ (Philostr. 5)

A subordinate clause in the indicative, introduced by εἰ, signals a neutral condition as a satellite. The indicative makes no statement on 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’.


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

Example Sentences: 

εἰ βούλει καλῶς ἀκούειν, μάθε καλῶς λέγειν. Μαθών δέ καλῶς λέγειν, πειρῶ καλῶς πράττειν καί οὕτω καρπώσει τό καλῶς ἀκούειν.

If you desire a good reputation, learn to speak well. When you have learnt to speak well, try to act well, and thus you will succeed in acquiring a good reputation.

νόμιζε δ’, εἰ σὺ τὴν σαυτοῦ φιλεῖς

ψυχήν, φιλεῖν ἅπαντας

Remember, if you love your own life, to love the life of all. ֍

εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι, μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω

If someone does not wish to work, he should not eat. ֍

κάλλος γὰρ καὶ πλοῦτος καὶ ἔρως εἰ συνῆλθον ἐπὶ σέ, οὐχ ἕδρας οὐδὲ ἀναβολῆς·

NO DUTCH TRANSLATION [provisional translation]

εἰ μὲν οὖν δέῃ χρημάτων, πένης εἰμί, εἰ δὲ φιλίας καὶ χρηστοῦ τρόπου, πλουτῶ.

NO DUTCH TRANSLATION [provisional translation]