Early Modern English Grammar

I’m compiling a list of things I’m learning while studying modern English, to make it easier.

Second Person Pronouns: Thou, Thee, Thy, Thine, and Ye, You, Your, Yours

Thou = You (Second Person Singular Subject) Thou is used to say, “You do something”.

You love me : Thou lovest me

There is always an “est” suffix added onto the word after thou, except if it’s in the form of a question, then the “est” suffix comes before thou.

Do you love me? : Dost thou love me?  

In some cases, the “e” is taken off.

You see how much I love you = Thou seest how much I love thee 

Thee = You (Second Person Singular Object) Thee is used to say “something is happening to you.”

I love you: I love thee.

Thy = Your (Second Person Singular Possessive)

I love your hair : I love thy hair

Thine = Yours (Second Person Singular Predicate, but also used when the next word begins with a vowel.)

It is yours : It is thine

I love your eyes : I love thine eyes (Because the word eyes begins with a vowel.)

Ye, You, Your, and Yours were all used to address a group of people. I know a lot of sources tell you that the use of you, your and yours were formal and thee, thou, thy and thine were informal titles. But it wasn’t until the end of the time period when the use of thee and thou was dying out that “you” was starting to take on its formal means of speech. Before that ye, you, your and yours were not formal titles, they were the plural partners of the singular thee, thou, thy and thine.


Ye = You (Second Person Plural Subject) “Ye” was used when you are addressing a group of people like how we now say “y’all” or “you people” or “you’s” today, but “ye” was only used when “ye” was the subject of the sentence.

Do ya’ll want to dance? : Do ye want to dance?  

You = You (Second Person Plural Object) Used just like “ye” to address a group of people, except for it’s the object form.

Has anyone taught ya’ll this dance? : Has anyone taught you this dance? 

Your: Your (Second Person Plural Possessive) Your was also only used to address a group of people. Thy is the singular term that you would use to address one person.

Yours: Yours (Second Person Plural Predicate) Yours is only used to address a group of people, thine being the equivalent to use with one person.

Here is a passage from the Book of Mormon that shows you the proper use of Ye and You.

39 But behold my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.

You can see that because the speaker is using “ye“, “you“, and “yours“, that they are referring to a group of people. If they were just speaking to one person, they would have used “thee, thou, thy and thine” instead. You can see how you is the object, and ye is the subject.


The “eth” suffix is added onto words after he/she/it, to replace the “s” we use after words.

She run(s) : She runn(eth).

He go(es) : He go(eth)

He prays : He prayeth

It dances : It danceth


But to say he did, he ran, he went, he prayed, he died, or anything that happened in past tense, it’s the same as how we write now. In other words, you can’t say, “He diedeth.” You would instead write, “He died.” The (eth) only goes on the end of a present tense word, such as “he dies”, which would read, “he dieth.”Here’s a snippet of an old poem that can show you the difference of when and when not to use the “eth” suffix.

He dopped and dooked,

he spake and looked,

So religiously.

Yet in a glasse

Or he would passe,

He toted and he peered,

His harte for pryde,

Lepte in his syde,

To see how well he freered

Than orth a pace,

Unto a place

He goeth withouten shame

To do this dede,

But now take hede,

For here begyneeth the game.

He drew hym ny,

and sostely

streyght at the dore he knocked:

and a dam ell,

that hard hym well,

there came and it unlocked

The frere sayd,

Good spede fayre mayd,

Here lodgeth such a man

It is told me:

Well fyr quoth she,

And yf he do what than.

Quoth he maystresse

No harm doubtless

It longeth for our order,

To hurt no man,

Bas as we can,

Fuery wight to forder.



I Do, You Do, He Did, He Does

I do (First Person Singular) We Do (First Person Plural)

Thou Dost (You do) (Second Person Singular) Ye do (Y’all do) (Second Person Plural)

He/She Doth (He/She Does) (Third Person Singular) They do (Third person Plural)

Past Tense: I Did, Thou Didst, She/He/It Did/ We Did, They Did

Have: I have, thou hast, we have, he hath (or has – the word “has” existed in the later time frame), they have, ye have
Can: I Can have, We can have, thou canst have, ye can have, he can have, they can have

Might: I might have, thou mightest have, he might have, we might have, ye might have, they might have

Will: I will have, thou wilt have, he will have, we will have, ye will have, they will have

Shall: I shall have, thou shalt have, he shall have, we shall have, ye shall have, they shall have

May: I may have, thou mayst have, he may, we may have, ye may have, they may have

Should: I should, thou shouldst, he should, we should, ye should, they should

Could: I could, thou couldst, he could, we should, ye should, they should

Long S and Short S

All the way up to the 1800’s, you’ll find old texts that make use of the Long S, which sort of looks like a big “f” and can be difficult to read because of that similarity.

For example, the “The ship sailed into the seas” looks like this: “The ſhip ſailed into the ſeas“. An actual “f” has a cross through it, but the long S doesn’t. There are certain rules for the use of the Long and Short S, which are well written out here: http://babelstone.blogspot.ca/2006/06/rules-for-long-s.html

I’ll be updating this soon…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s