Questions, Insights, & Responses

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#80 - What are the differences between ye , thou, and you?

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #80:

In KJV Bible, why are the old English "ye" and the new English "you" mixed together in one sentence? For example, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Joh 8:32)

Response #80:

The KJV was written in early 17th century English. From what I have observed from comparing the KJV text with the Greek text, in the KJV "thou" is the second person singular pronoun used as the subject of the verb, and "ye" is the second person plural pronoun used as the subject of the verb. For example, "Thou art…" (Mar 1:11), "Thou shalt…" (Exo 20:3), "Ye are…" (Mat 5:13,14), and "Ye shall" (Joh 8:32).

It appears that "you" is used in all other instances, including when it is the object of a verb or the object of a preposition. There may be exceptions to this, because rules of grammar and spelling were not as systematically established and applied in the original KJV as they are in modern English literature.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer