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Thou vs. Thee: Learn The Difference

Thou vs. Thee

If Shakespeare was a standard part of your English literature class, it’s likely that you’ve run into some unique words, such as “thou” and “thee”’ While they were commonly used way back when, the emergence of Standard English meant that they were replaced with easier alternatives. Nevertheless, some writers still prefer using the words “thou” and “thee” in their writing to give it an authentic touch.

Similarly, you’ll come across these words if you read the Bible, particularly when reading the King James translation. Meanwhile, in the context of the entertainment industry, these words were often used with wrong verbs for a comedic effect.

An example is an old TV ad using the words thou and thee to give a comedic effect. The advertisement featured an agent wearing an armor costume made using insurance policies. In the ad, he is shown talking to another agent, saying: “I doth declare that thou have brought over many discounts to thine customers! Thou cometh and they saveth!”

In this, you can see how the advertisement showcases the use of both old and modernized English, which truly does give out a bit of a comedic touch.

As An Object, Subject or Pronoun

But what is the difference between thou vs. thee? It can be very confusing to determine what thou and thee mean in certain phrases. To make it clear, below are a few forms of thou vs. thee:

Thee (object): “I love thee.”

Thou (subject): “Thou art the creator.”

Thine (possessive pronoun): “That house was thine.”

Thy (possessive object): “Is this thy cat.”

You could also use thine as a possessive object next to the beginning of a noun, including a vowel:  “Is he thine immortal?” A little aside – speaking of possessive pronouns, here is simple article on the topic. Now back to the matter at hand.

As A Verb

Verbs that would be used with the subject form that is thou usually ends with ‘st.’ For example:

“ What dost thou still at work, thou buzy lout.”

“Can I go out with my friends, Father? No, thou canst not”.

Words that end with “th” don’t go with thou or any other pronoun. The word that ends with a th represents a third-person speaking, for example:

“She doth what she liketh best.”

Thou Today

The good news is that the word thou is still used in some English dialects with different alterations such as ‘tha.’

The Society of Friends (Quakers) continued to use it as a second person, which is singular in the “plain speech” in today’s times. The archaic verb ending disappeared, and the subject form of thou was replaced by the object form of thee among a few Quakers.

You will have to make sure to review all the forms if you ever plan to use verb endings and archaic pronouns in any novel or ad. You will see a major difference in your writing, and it will help you add a unique, authentic touch once you start using these forms.

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By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal, and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It, and Article Valley.

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