A School Grammar of Attic Greek

Thomas Dwight Goodell


Ἐᾱ́ν with the Subjunctive

650. The subjunctive takes ἄν (rarely omitted), which is joined with εἰ, forming ἐᾱ́ν (often contracted to ἤν or ᾱ̓́ν).
The subjunctive puts the supposition simply, referring it either to future time, or to any or all time (the generalizing present), whichever the context, especially the leading clause, may indicate (Simple Future Condition, or General Condition).

Ἢν μὲν μένωμεν, σπονδαί
if we remain, a truce
Xen. Anabasis 2.1.22


ἢν τοῦτο λάβωμεν, οὐ δυνήσονται μένειν.
If we take this, they will not be able to remain.
Xen. Anabasis 3.4.41


ἐᾱ̀ν δʼ ἀπῇ τὸ χαίρειν, τᾱ̓́λλʼ ἐγὼ καπνοῦ σκιᾶς οὐκ ἂν πριαίμην.
But if joy be gone, the rest I would not for a vaporʼs shadow buy.
Soph. Antigone 1170


Eἴ τι νὺξ ἀφῇ, τοῦτʼ ἐπʼ ἦμαρ ἔρχται.
if night leaves aught, this the day assails.
Soph. Oedipus the King 197-198


a. For ἐᾱ́ν meaning on the chance that, see 652.


b. Greek also uses the present indicative (with εἶ) in general conditions, as English does (cp. 617).


c. Greek and Latin uses of the subjunctive in conditions must not be confused. ἐᾱ́ν with the subjunctive corresponds to si with the future or future perfect indicative; si with the subjunctive corresponds to εἰ with the optative (631): ἐν τοῦτο ποιήσῃς si hoc facies or feceris.

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