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εἰ καί or καὶ εἰ with a subordinate clause: concession


χαῖρε, κἂν μὴ θέλῃς.

‘Greetings, even if you don't want them.’ (Philostr. Letters 14)

A subordinate clause, introduced by εἰ καί or καὶ εἰ ('although'), signals a concession as a satellite. The use of the moods and tenses in the main and subordinate clauses is identical to that of conditional clauses.In the case of an affirmative main clause the subordinate clause is negated by adding εἰ καί μή. In the case of a negated main clause εἰ καί is changed to οὐδ’ εἰ of μηδ’ εἰ ('not even if', 'although not'), dependent on the mood of the main clause.

Lexical usage

The conjunction καὶ ἐάν is usually subject to krasis and as a result becomes κἄν. Sometimes one finds κἄν εἰ instead of καὶ εἰ, even if the subordinate clause contains no subjunctive (often in Demosthenes).

Translation tips

εἰ καί, καὶ εἰ (with an affirmative main clause):

  • ‘though’, ‘although’, ‘even if’, ‘albeit’;

οὐδ’ εἰ, μηδ’ εἰ (with a negated main clause) or εἰ καὶ μή, καὶ εἰ μή (with an affirmative main clause):

  • ‘not even if’, ‘(al)though not’, ‘even if not’, ‘albeit not’;

Syntactic usage

The negation of καὶ εἰ or εἰ καί varies between οὐδ' εἰ and μηδ' εἰ because the negating particle is actually part of the main clause. It is the construction in the main clause which determines the choice between οὐ and μή. The -δέ of the negating οὐδέ and μηδέ has the same meaning as καί in an affirmative sentence.
Note: the καί of καὶ εἰ can also just be a conjunction with the meaning 'and,' as in κεἰ τάδ᾽ εἴσεται Κρέων ‘and if Creon will learn this’ (Soph. Ant. 229). The same is true of the καί in εἰ καί; in this case the καί has the meaning 'even'.

Historical background

Greek concessive clauses are variants of the conditional clause. According to Rijksbaron the particle καί in εἰ καί or καὶ εἰ functions as a focus particle (not as a conjunction meaning ‘and’ or ‘even’).


The main clause often contains the adverb ὅμως ‘still, all the same’.


καίπερ with a participle is preferred when the main clause contains an indicative (expressing a neutral modality).

Example Sentences: 

ἀπιστοῦνται δ’ οἱ λάλοι, κἂν ἀληθεύωσιν

Chatterers are not believed even when they tell the truth. ֍

ποιήσομεν, κἂν ἀποθανεῖν ἡμᾶς δέῃ

We will do it, even if we must die for it. ֍

ἀργὸς μὴ ἴσθι, μηδ’ ἂν πλουτῇς.

Do not be idle, even if you are rich. ֍

ὑμεῖς ἐμοί, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, συμβούλῳ μέν, κἂν μὴ θέλητε, χρήσεσθε· συκοφάντῃ δὲ οὐδὲ ἂν θέλητε.

Men of Athens, I will serve you as a counsellor, even when you do not wish it; and not as a sycophant, even if you do.

μουσικὴν δ' ἔρως διδάσκει, κἂν ἄμουσος τὸ πρίν.

Love taught him music, although he had not been musical before. ֍

τὰ γὰρ ἡδέα τῶν πραγμάτων, κἂν μήπω παρῇ, τέρπει ταῖς ἐλπίσιν.

[translation underway]

ἀνάγκη οὖν, εἰ καὶ μὴ δεινὸς πρὸς ταῦτα πέφυκα, βοηθεῖν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ἐμαυτῷ οὕτως ὅπως ἂν δύνωμαι.

[translation underway]