Aorist verbs are distinguished into first aorists and second aorists (study chapter 22 in BBG). The difference is just like the difference between English regular and irregular verbs. For example, note the difference in the way the following verbs form the past tense:
Today, I walk; yesterday, I walked.
This is the regular way past tenses are formed in English. The suffix -ed is added to the verb. This corresponds to the first aorist in Greek.
Today, I hold the baby; yesterday, I held the baby.
Note the past tense of “hold” is not “holded“. Instead of adding -ed to the verb, the spelling of the verb changes. This corresponds to a second aorist is in Greek.
First aorist verbs (or “regular aorists”) are identified by the tense formative σα (think of the -ed suffix on English verbs). An easy way to know if a given verb is first or second aorist is to find the verb in MBG. Then check and see if the stems are the same in all the principal parts.
| aorist tense
Note: the stem (in red) is spelled the same in both the present and aorist tense.
Note: the stem (in red) is spelled the same in both the present and aorist tense. The first letter changed because of the augment.
Second aorist verbs (or “irregular aorists”) don’t take a tense formative. Instead, they change their spelling. λαμβανω is an example of such a verb.
|Note: the stem here is λαμβαν-
|Note: the stem has changed to λαβ-
|Note: the stem here is ερχ-
|Note: the stem has changed to ηλθ-
Here are the full paradigms:
λαμβάνω – I receive
λαμβάνεις – you receive
λαμβάνει – he/she/it receives
λαμβάνομεν – we receive
λαμβάνετε – you receive
λαμβάνουσι – they receive
Aorist: (note the different spelling of the stem)
ἔλαβον – I received
ἔλαβες – you received
ἔλαβεν – he/she/it received
ἐλάβομεν – we received
ἐλάβετε – you received
ἔλαβον – they received