Every form of the verb denotes the stage of the action.
a. Continued action is denoted by the present stem:
1. Present: γράφω
2. Imperfect: ἔγραφον
3. Future: γράψω
N.—Continued action is incomplete: hence nothing is stated as to the conclusion. Thus φεύγει
b. Completed action with permanent result is denoted by the perfect stem:
1. Perfect: γέγραφα ἐπιστολήν
2. Pluperfect: ἐγεγράφη ἐπιστολήν
3. Future Perfect: γεγράψεται
c. Action simply brought to pass (simple attainment) is denoted by the
1. Aorist: ἔγραψα
2. Future: γράψω
N.—The aorist tense (ἀόριστος χρόνος from ὁρίζω
The present stem may denote the simple action of the verb in present time without regard to its continuance; as θαυμάζω
The future stem may denote either continued action (as in the present) or simple occurrence of the action of the verb (as in the aorist). Thus γράψω
Some verbs are, by their meaning, restricted to the tenses of continued action, as ὁρᾶν
The difference between the present stem (present and imperfect) and the aorist stem may be compared to the difference between a line and a point (both starting point and end). Thus, ἔρχεσθαι
For the ‘progressive’ tenses of English (
καὶ πάντ' ἀναδεχόμενος καὶ εἰς αὑτὸν ποιούμενος τὰ τούτων ἁμαρτήματ' ἐστίν
ἔστι που δίχα διαιρούμενον
Primary and Secondary Tenses.—The primary tenses refer to present and future time (present, future, perfect, and future perfect), the secondary or historical tenses refer to past time (imperfect, aorist, pluperfect).
a. The gnomic aorist ( cross1931 b) is regarded as a primary tense, as is the aorist when used for the perfect ( cross1940), and the imperfect indicative referring to present time ( cross1788); the historical present ( cross1883), as a secondary tense. The subjunctive, optative, and imperative moods in their independent uses point to the future, and all their tenses therefore count as primary.
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].