Why is the verb in Luke 11:41 singular, when "all things" is plural? How - if at all - does that lack of agreement affect the possible meaning of the sentence?

But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. [bold mine] Luke 11:41 KJV

So, to clarify: in English translation, most translations render the verb "are", 3rd person plural of "to be". But in Greek, the verb is 3rd singular. Which doesn't agree with the 3rd plural subject. Is this just something that happens sometimes? It's not flagged as a text critical problem in Nestle, as far as I can tell. No one seems to have mentioned it. It's bugging me.

  • 1
    πάντα καθαρὰ ὑμῖν ἐστιν. all is clean unto you (Adding the word 'things' unnecessarily complicates the translation and the concept.)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 29, 2023 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


It is common in Koine Greek for a neuter [gender] plural [number] subject to have a verb in the singular number, as noted by multitudes of Greek grammars:

Blass, p. 78, § 31.3:

enter image description here

Blass & Debrunner, p. 73, § 133:

enter image description here

Bullions, p. 232, § 139:

enter image description here

Buttmann, p. 125–126, § 110.2,

enter image description here

Crosby, p. 287, § 569,

enter image description here

Funk, p. 402, § 536,

enter image description here

Kühner, p. 40, § 384:

enter image description here

Matthiae, p. 514, § 300:

enter image description here

Simonson, p. 14, § 1255–1256:

enter image description here

Smyth, p. 264, § 958:

enter image description here

Wallace, p. 399:

enter image description here

Blass, Friedrich Wilhelm. Grammar of New Testament Greek. Trans. Thackeray, Henry St. John. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.

Blass, Friedrich Wilhelm; Debrunner, Albert. A Greek Grammar of The New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Trans. Funk, Robert. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1961.

Bullions, Peter. The Principles of Greek Grammar: Comprising the Substance of the Most Approved Greek Grammars Extant, for the Use of Schools and Colleges. 21st ed. New York: Pratt, 1851.

Buttmann, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Andover: Draper, 1873.

Crosby, Alpheus. A Compendious Grammar of the Greek Language. New York: Woolworth, 1871.

Funk, Robert W. A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Missoula: U of Montana, 1973.

Kühner, Raphael. A Grammar of the Greek Language, Chiefly from the German of Raphael Kühner. Trans. Jelf, William Edward. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Oxford: Wright, 1851.

Matthiae, August Heinrich. A Copious Greek Grammar. Trans. Blomfield, Edward. 5th ed. Vol. 2. London: Murray, 1832.

Simonson, Gustave. A Greek Grammar: Syntax. London: Sonnenschein, 1911.

Smyth, Herbert Weir. A Greek Grammar for Colleges. New York: American Book, 1920.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

This is an idiosyncratic Greek rule which uses collective plural. A neuter plural noun occasionally may have a singular verb when it is a collective noun. Greek grammarians referred to this rule as “the animals [sg]run” [τὰ ζῷα τρέχει], which was itself an example of the rule). Because a neuter plural noun often referred to something impersonal, the noun was considered as a collective whole. For instance, Acts 2:43 “And many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles” (πολλά τε τέρατα [neut pl] καὶ σημεῖα [neut pl] διὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐγίνετο [sg]).

Such discord in agreement in number or gender happens perhaps due to convenience and where the subject is implicit. Read details on google book search.

It is strongly advised against using interlinear Bible without studying Greek textbooks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.