Aorist Passive example – εδανεισθην

This verb, δανειζω in the Present Active Indicative 1PS, demonstrates the difference between Middle and Passive.

Starting with the Active δανειζω, in that form it means “to loan,” as in “Tom loaned Dick one dollar.” In the Middle form δανειζομαι, it means “to borrow,” as in “Dick borrowed one dollar from Tom.”

But when translating Sidgwick’s Composition XI, he used the phrase, “the money was lent.” At first I struggled with it; clearly some form of the verb δανειζω was needed. But, as soon as I started thinking of the Middle form, I was stuck, because that means “to borrow.” I have mistakenly thought of the Middle form as “a form which is interchangeably Middle or Passive, depending on context.” In this case, with this verb, the Middle form was not going to help.

Then it came to me: the Aorist Passive, that annoying -θη- form, which has always seems a little odd to me. “If you have an Aorist verb in a passive sense, why not just use the Middle/Passive form?” … δανειζω shows precisely why not – because the middle form, δανειζομαι, means “to borrow;” it cannot mean “to be lent.”

Only the Aorist Passive form can express the the concept “the money was lent.


1. I guess that Greek has no Present Passive for this verb. That is, there is no direct way to say “the money is being lent (right now).” Naturally, that seems okay, as the act of lending seems to be instantaneous, unlike running, thinking, using, and many other verbs.

2. Can I call this GEOTD, “Greek Epiphany of the Day?”