Posted by: episystechpubs | January 8, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Thee, Thou, and Ye

Earlier last month I received an interesting email from Tom H. about the words thee, thou, and ye, meaning you. Most of us remember learning these words from Shakespeare class, hearing biblical quotations, or perhaps our last experience at a Renaissance fair. But Tom wanted to point out that while thee and thou are pronouns for a single you, ye actually refers to the plural pronoun you, something like “y’all.”

This is very interesting. Today, when we learn other languages that still have a separate word for you (singular) and you (plural), we are told that English uses you for both cases. (Unless you are in a part of the U.S. that has not given up on y’ouns or y’all or all y’all.) Perhaps we should bring back ye?

For more information on thee, thou, and ye, here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say:

thou

archaic

: the one that is being addressed — used as a nominative pronoun of the second person singular especially in biblical, ecclesiastical, solemn, or poetic language

First Known Use: before 12th century

thee: THOU
archaic
: used especially in biblical, ecclesiastical, solemn, or poetical language, and to some extent in the speech of Friends especially among themselves, in contexts where the objective case form of an inflected pronoun is the one to be expected especially as indirect object of a verb

ye: YOU

: used from the earliest times to the late 13th century only as a plural pronoun of the second person in the nominative case including direct address and still surviving archaically and in many dialects in this use alongside of other more recently originated uses

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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