Why the "Ye's", "Thee's", and "Thou's"?

by Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

One of the most criticized characteristics of the King James translation of the Bible is its use of old English pronouns. Some unlearned scholars go to great lengths to make fun of the "ye's", "thee's", and "thou's". Why not just use "you"? they say. Yet this is one of the strongest points of the Authorized Version of 1611.

In the language of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament there is a very distinct difference between the second person singular and the second person plural pronouns. We make no such difference in modern English---both singular and plural are translated "you". However, in old English there exists a difference, just as there is in Greek and Hebrew. As a result, the old English used in the King James Version gives a far more precise translation than would modern English.

In our King James Bible, thee, thou, thy, and thine are always singular. You, ye, and your are always plural. If the second person pronoun starts with a "t" (in the English translation) than it is singular. If it starts with a "y" it is plural. This information helps us better interpret Gods Word.

It is interesting to note that, contrary to popular opinion, the word "you" is used in the King James Version of the Bible---about 2,000 times in fact. Perhaps the so-called "old English" could better be described as "good old Bible English". Praise YE the Lord for it!

Prov 3:5 (KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Prov 3:6 (KJV) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.


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