Adjectives can perform three functions.

  1. They can modify nouns.

    ἐγένετο...ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ...πνοῆς βιαίας
    A violent wind came out of heaven. (Acts 2:2)

    Wind is the noun.  Violent is an adjective.  It tells you what KIND of wind it was.
  2. They can say something about nouns in a sentence where the verb "to be" is stated or implied.  in this case, the adjective is called a "predicate adjective".

    ὁ θεὸς ἀληθής ἐστιν.
    God is good.  (John 3:33)
  3. They can act like nouns.

    ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.
    But deliver us from the Evil One.  (Matt. 6:13)

    When an adjective has a definite article, it acts like a noun.

Scenarios 1 & 2 Above

Adjectives agree with the nouns they are connected with in case, gender and number in scenarios 1 and 3 above.

Every adjective can have a word ending that is either masculine, feminine, or neuter. (ἀληθής is a masculine form of adjective, even though the ής at the end of it makes it look feminine at first glance.)

Scenario 3 Above

Since in this case, the adjective is not modifying a noun, it gets it case/number/gender from other aspects of the context, as with any noun.  In the example above,  τοῦ πονηροῦ is genitive because it is being governed by the preposition ἀπὸ .

Word Form Parsing Translation
αγαθός Masculine Singular or
Generic Singular
a good man
a good person
ἀγαθαί Feminine Plural good women
ἀγαθόν Neuter Singular a good thing
οἱ ἀγαθοί Masculine Plural or
Generic Plural
the good men
the good people


αγαθός is an adjective that means "good".  The endings it has are exactly what you have learned for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.

Decl. 2 1 2
Gender M F N
Nom. S. αγαθός ἀγαθή ἀγαθόν
Gen. S. ἀγαθοῦ ἀγαθῆς ἀγαθοῦ
Dat. S. ἀγαθῷ ἀγαθῇ ἀγαθῷ
Acc. S. ἀγαθόν ἀγαθήν ἀγαθόν
Nom. P. ἀγαθοί ἀγαθαί ἀγαθά
Gen. P. ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθῶν
Dat. P. ἀγαθοῖς ἀγαθαῖς ἀγαθοῖς
Acc. P. ἀγαθούς ἀγαθάς ἀγαθά

The dictionary-form of any adjective is the nominative singular form.  So the dictionary-form of ἀγαθαῖς is αγαθός, not ἀγαθή.


Recognizing How an Adjective is Being Used

The question becomes, "How do you identify which function an adjective is peforming?"

An adjective is modifying a noun if...

A noun has to be present nearby.  The adjective can come before or after the noun.  There is no difference in meaning.  However, the adjective must be preceded by the a definite article.

Both of these exasmples mean "the good man/person".

ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος
ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθὸς

You will never find ὁ ἀγαθὸς ὁ ἄνθρωπος.

An adjective is acting as a noun if...

...there is no noun nearby for the adjective to modify.  If the adjective has a definite article, then it is acting as a noun.  The following means "the good man/person".

ὁ ἀγαθὸς

This means "the faithful woman".

τὴν πιστήν

An adjective is acting as a predicate in a [nom + BeVerb + nom] sentence if...

The noun has a definite article, but the adjective does not.  In this case, the adjective is functioning as a predicate adjective.  In this case, you will supply the verb "is" to connect the two nominatives.

The following means "The man is good."

ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἀγαθὸς

If there is no definite article at all...

Then you need to look at the context as a guide to translation.  These phrases:

ἄνθρωπος ἀγαθὸς
ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος

...could either mean "A good man" or "A man is good".

Recognizing Case Endings of Adjectives

Most adjectives will be formed in a way thatfollows the pattern of one of the following words:

ἅγιος holy

πᾶς each, every

πολύς large, great, loud

ἀληθής true, genuine

ἕις one