This would seem like an extremely basic question that one would just look up the answer to. However, there are literally dozens of forms of φημί in the present active indicative, and grammars don't always seem to agree on what are the epic or Homeric forms.

1 Answer 1


I went through the Project Perseus annotation of the Iliad and found the following conjugation for φημί in the present indicative active:

  • φημί
  • φῄς
  • φησίν, φασίν
  • φαμέν
  • φατέ
  • φασίν

Although Wiktionary lists φῇσθα as the 2s epic form, the Project Perseus folks seem always to have tagged this as subjunctive. Wiktionary lists φασίν as a 3p form, but it occurs in Homer as both singular and plural. When Homer wants to express the 3s, he seems to use φασίν about a third of the time. (Could it be that those are the times when he needs a short vowel for meter? I haven't checked.)

  • Do you have examples of φασίν as 3sg.? According to Smyth (783D) the only Homeric pres. ind. act. form in addition to the usual Attic ones is φῇσθα. (I don't think there are dozens of forms, unless you include φάσκω.)
    – TKR
    Oct 28, 2021 at 0:46
  • @TKR: Your questions are good ones. Project Perseus's tree bank lists many uses of φασιν as singular, but I haven't tracked them down to see the context. Perhaps they're confined to a particular idiom such as ουκ φεμι for "deny," or maybe they're arguably a plural verb used with a singular subject. Re dozens of forms, see logeion.uchicago.edu/morpho/%CF%86%CE%B7%CE%BC%CE%AF , although many of these are just differences in accentuation or elision. U Chicago Morpho does also list φασιν as a singular form, although I don't know where they get their data -- possibly Perseus.
    – user3597
    Oct 28, 2021 at 20:17
  • Morpho lists 42 forms in the present indicative active. Ignoring differences in accentuation, and taking forms like φας'/φασι/φασιν to be the same when used for the same number and person, I count 14 forms, which is still a lot more than the expected number. Re φῇσθα, this is discussed in the answer.
    – user3597
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:39
  • Some of those are Doric forms: φαμί, φατί, φαντί. Other than those, putting aside accent/elision/nu-mobile differences, I think there are only the seven you list in the answer (except that φῄς is sometimes written without iota subscript). BTW I haven't used the Perseus tree bank much -- is there a list somewhere of the purported 3sg. uses of φασιν?
    – TKR
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:50

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