What does εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι mean in James 1:19. Please, explain how the article works here?

  • 1
    ταχυς εις το ακουσαι βραδυς εις το λαλησαι could be translated 'be swift unto the hearing, slow unto the speaking' since the verbs are both aorist infinitives (an infinitive can be expressed as a participle in English). The articles are quite normal, articles often preceding both participles and infinitives in Greek (though only preceding participles in English, not infinitives.) Up-voted +1. See Biblehub Interlinear for the parts of speech.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Here is my overly literal translation of James 1:19 -

Know [this], my beloved brothers: However, let every person be quick unto the hearing, slow unto the speaking, and slow unto anger

In each case, I have translated εἰς as "unto" a simple preposition. In more idiomatic English, this might be translated as:

Know this my beloved brothers, let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Thus, εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι is simply (literally) "quick to the hearing", or better, "quick to listen".

  • his teaching in reference to prayer "εἰς τὸ σῶσα" Psalm 69:2 LXX is clear.
    – Betho's
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 0:20

Dottard already gave the best answer, but to be technical "how the article works here" is really just a small addition to Dottards answer.

εἰς is a preposition.

ἀκοῦσαι is a verb form (a nominal form of the verb).

Prepositions normally stand before a noun phrase and govern its case.

The article turns the infinitive into a "noun" (nomen) and the preposition εἰς governs the accusative.

So it works as a "function word" functioning to turn a verb form into a noun. Greek can be very productive with this mechanism of creating noun phrases with an article.

The εἰς τὸ + infinitive is often used to indicate a purpose (in order to) or a result (so that).

"quick so that you hear/listen" = quick to listen

Dottard expressed that part better.

  • Thanks for this technical explanation - quite right; I did not want to clutter my answer too much. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 0:55

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