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1824. Potential Optative.—The potential optative with ἄν states a future possibility, propriety, or likelihood, as an opinion of the speaker; and may be translated by may, might, can (especially with a negative), must, would, should (rarely will, shall). So in Latin velim, videas, cognoscas, credas.

““γνοίης δ᾽ ἂν ὅτι τοῦθ᾽ οὕτως ἔχειyou may see that this is soX. C. 1.6.21, ““ἅπαντες ἂν ὁμολογήσειανall would agreeI. 11.5, ἡδέως ἂν ἐροίμην I (would gladly ask) should like to ask D. 18.64, ““οὐκ ἂν λάβοιςthou canst not takeS. Ph. 103, ““λέγοιμ᾽ ἂν τάδεI will tell thisA. Supp. 928. The second person singular is often indefinite (one), as γνοίης ἄν (cognoscas) = γνοίη τις ἄν.

a. The potential optative ranges from possibility to fixed resolve. The aorist optative with ἄν and a negative is very common.

b. When stress is laid on the idea of possibility and power, necessity and obligation, Greek uses δύναμαι, δεῖ or χρή with the infinitive (statement of fact).

c. The potential optative with ἄν is also used in dependent sentences; in purpose clauses (2202 b), in object clauses after verbs of effort (2216) and verbs of fearing (2232), in causal clauses (2243), in result clauses (2278), in the apodosis of conditional (see 2356) and conditional relative sentences (2566). In indirect discourse the infinitive with ἄν or the participle with ἄν may represent the optative with ἄν (1845 ff.).

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 1.pos=2.2
    • Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox, Overview of Greek Syntax, Verbs: Mood
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