Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
-Psalm 138:2, KJV

Video: What about the Thees and Thous?

Why Thee, Thou, Thine, and Thy need to be in your Bible, and why “you” (etc.) is not a modern equivalent.

Outline follows.

  • So what about Thee and Thou?
  • A common complaint about the KJV is that it has “thee and thou” making it sound old. Even though these words don’t harm the understanding of the text, people want them removed.
  • What these words are NOT (in biblical use):
    • Not a reference to Deity.
    • Does not signify some kind of special relationship between people.
    • Not “prayer” language.
    • Follies of modern Bible translations:
      • Old New American Standard (pre 1995) confused the use of these words by restricting them to addressing God.
      • New King James Version presents false information about Thee, Thou, and Ye in its preface.
        • NKJV editors claim to be updating the KJV but demonstrate clearly that they did not understand the language of the KJV.
    • Genesis chapter 3 in the KJV shows us that these words have nothing to do with special relationships or prayer to God.
      • Thou is a pronoun for God (Ge 3:9), for Man (Ge 3:12), and for the Devil (Ge 3:14)
    • Not conversational English in 1611.
      • As we will soon see, these words became “archaic” before the KJV was translated.
    • Thee, Thou, Thy and Thine are not the same as You, Ye, Your, and Yours.
  • Thee ≠ You.
    • 1Cor 12:21 demonstrates that Thee and You are different words.
    • Thee = Singular (the hand).
    • You = Plural (the feet).
    • There are 385 verses in the KJV with both singular and plural appearing in the same verse.
  • A closer look at Thou (etc.), history in English
    • This information comes from the Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition).
    • Singular vs. Plural
      • Thee, Thou, Thy, Thine = Singular
      • You, Ye, Your, Yours = Plural
    • Thou and its cases thee, thine, and thy were ordinary speech in Old English (pre-12th century)
    • Became archaic during Middle English (pre-15th century)
    • Use of Thee (etc.) to indicate singular was no longer the common purpose of the word by Modern English (15th century)
    • Thee (etc.) was dropped by English speakers and writers before even Wycliffe’s and Tyndale’s English translations.
  • Thou (etc.) Revived by Bible Translators
    • Biblical Greek and Hebrew maintain a clear distinction between singular and plural personal pronouns and adjectives.
    • Tyndale’s translation (early 16th century) maintained this Holy Ghost inspired distinction.
      • He used Thee (etc.) for singular.
      • He used You (etc.) for plural.
      • Tyndale used words archaic even by 16th century standards in order to faithfully translate Scripture.
    • The Authorized King James Bible is the seventh translation (from original languages) to retain the use of these archaic words in order to properly translate Scripture.
      • Wycliffe’s translated of the Latin Vulgate (14th century) did this too. As the OED makes clear, these words were already uncommon by that point.
  • Singular vs. Plural is an important distinction inspired by the Holy Ghost.
    • Saying “who cares” is saying that it doesn’t matter what was inspired.
    • Dropping this during translation introduces confusion in the text.
    • English Standard Version confuses the Lord’s speech to Simon in Luke 22:31-32.
    • King James Bible makes the distinction between the group of Disciples (Lu 22:31) and Simon (Lu 22:32) perfectly clear.
    • ESV footnote demonstrates the shortcomings of the ESV approach to “easier more modern” translation.
    • NKJV doesn’t even bother with a footnote after leaving a mess in the text.
    • KJV is clear about the distinction between Joshua and Israel in Joshua 1:1-9. Modern translations do not provide enough information in the text to distinguish between promises for Israel and promises for Joshua.
  • Final review: Singular vs. Plural.
    Singular Plural
    Thee
    (Objective case)
    You
    (Objective case)
    Thou
    (Nominative case)
    Ye
    (Nominative case)
    Thy Your
    Thine Yours

    T = Singular
    Y = Plural

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23 Responses to Video: What about the Thees and Thous?

  1. John Martin says:

    Good job, Brandon. I first came across this information reading Gail Riplinger’s “The Language of the King James Bible”. I had bought into the rhetoric of the modern bible translations, how they were all an improvement on the KJV, but the Lord, in his faithfulness, brought me back to his word, the AV/KJV Bible. As you say, there are many opponents and they are actually opponents to God’s word and to God himself, but few realize it.

    John M

    • john l. says:

      Sir, you do have the RIGHT WORD….. opponents to the Word of GOD.
      That is what fills my heart…. Is changing the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” would be a “better” way to sing the song, I ask ?
      As for me: NO it wouldn’t.
      Good comment Sir.

  2. Rick Williams says:

    Thank you Brandon! The last half was certainly helpful to me.

  3. marksil2000 says:

    I do believe that KJV is the best translation of the best Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic manuscripts (in my opinion, the Masoretic and the TR) available to us at this point in time (I still reject the notion of perfection.) I was saved when I first took up residence in the US. I did not know English at all. Most of my reading was from the KJV. Back then churches in Minnesota used exclusively KJV. I totally agree that the modern attempts to make the Bible easier to understand are simply ludicrous to me since I still think KJV is easier to read. An archaic word here and there? Certainly but far from justifying claims of KJV being so hard to understand. Actually I heard young people, who have no idea about the controversies, say that feel that KJV is easier to read. Anyway, at least there are somethings we can agree on. Blessings.

  4. john l. fortier (johnny NL) says:

    1986, …wow! nice ride since then…
    Just like my pastor was teaching me, (a new born again), how to read, understand, The Word of GOD. The King James Bible. Back then, I just had learn regular English speaking, then, here I am learning the “old” English (KJv). Just like you Mr. Staggs, I was tought, Thous and Thees make a huge difference in the text. Not being willing to consider this fact, I think it is a big mistake.

    Re 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book

    Re 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    As for myself (ONLY), I came to THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, with KJV.
    The Lord knew what was right for my soul.
    The KJV is so into my mind now, that if I read another version, I feel “lost”, like I don’t understand what I’m reading.

    Also when I listen to my Swordsearcher audio, I kinda know which verse comes next,
    I know this is personal, but that’s only me.

    Thanks for the teaching, Mr. Staggs. It brings me back to my origin. A long time ago, but so fresh to my memory.
    Thank you again.

    Johnny NL

  5. Dear Brother, that was an excellent explanation. I’ve preaching and teaching this distinction for quite some time now. Of course I did not come up with this on my own completely, while I did notice a distinction. The archaic part I just learned a few short years ago.
    I would sinverely love to hear an explanation of Romans 8:1 discussing the difference between and accurate use of the words “which are in Christ” and the words “who walk not”. I find even some publishers claiming to publish the KJV version uses who in both places. Of course the modern versions leave off the last phrase in v. 1.
    I don’t necessarily need a video, just some response to this would be nice.
    I love your work, keep it up. I am an old man winding down. What a joy to see younger men, educated men, coming along this same route.

  6. Scott In AL says:

    Good Explanation Brandon! And people try to say the changes don’t affect doctrine, the video proved that doctrine is gradually changed in such a way that the reader doesn’t even realize it.

  7. Very good video lesson Brandon ! { Thanks — good to see someone on the other side of ‘The Curtain’ actually reads the comments, unlike some internet posters who start stuff , but never return and prove their points. } You made Bacon’s article easier to understand. T’s are Singular , and Y’s are Plural.

    As I read Bacon’s article , and just now as I watching your video… I was thinking that right now ( April AD 2014 ) there are students in their Senior year at High Schools across the Land , that do not know a singular from a plural. Keep up the good work!

    { Suggestion for next video project: Explain why most of us read/use a 1769 edition of the Authorized Version , instead of a 1611. Many of the anti-K.J. people luuuuve to bring up the 1611 vs. 1769 editions as proof that it is A-Okay to have “New” Bible versions. }

  8. Brother Brandon, once again, thou hast done a great job. (lol)

  9. Steve Smart says:

    Really good Brandon.
    Your videos are very well done.
    Suggest you create more of them.
    They will be greatly used by the Lord!
    This is the time to do it!
    Steve Smart

  10. Charlene McCloud says:

    Thank you for your latest video. I appreciate the way to remember singular vs. plural. Very interesting, and very needed!

  11. John says:

    Great video. I always explain when Jesus told Nicodemus “Ye must be born again”. The modern perversions that change “ye” to “you” are changing what Jesus said. Jesus just didn’t tell Nicodemus – you must be born again – but when the KJV says “Ye must be born again” Jesus is saying “not only you Nicodemus but all your other lost religious Pharisees friends need to be born again”!

    • Hugh McCann says:

      Amen, John. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. {John 3:7}

      • John says:

        Amen right back at you Hugh! There is a song that says “it’s too late for me to turn back now”. I was saved and grew as a Christian hearing the King James Version. The devil wants people to think that it is the hardest version to understand (no person will understand without the Holy Spirit living inside). I retired as a writer-editor and I had to perform Reading Grade Levels (RGLs) on Army manuals so soldiers would understand them. Even though I knew that the KJV is the Word of God – I decided to do some RGLs and I found out that the devil is wrong and that the KJV is the easiest to read among all other perversions!

    • Hugh McCann says:

      My fave example is Matthew 16:17, where both are used to good effect –

      And Jesus answered and said unto him,
      Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona:
      for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,
      but my Father which is in heaven.

    • Ken Parsons says:

      Thanks, I hadn’t spotted that one., although I’d read it 100 times!

    • Ken Parsons says:

      I enjoyed your video, Brandon.
      Just one point, for readers this side of the Atlantic. What you call (with more logic than us) nominative, we call accusative.
      But you do well, this difference is vital for understanding. Thanks, and keep the King James flag flying.

  12. Hugh McCann says:

    Thanks, Brandon. Also, the RSV (1952), “confused the use of these words [‘thee’ & ‘thou’] by restricting them to addressing God.”

  13. Margherita says:

    Thank you, I always wondered what it meant, this cleared it up for me.

  14. Jim Julian says:

    As a Bible Believer, all of us must continue the good fight, continue to defend the KJB as God’s only true English translation for His English speaking Church period. Information like this as the Bother has spent time doing is a blessing as long as we use it and apply it. Thanks Brother for your time and effort. God Bless , Pro. #:5-6

  15. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant Sonyuy says:

    I’m glad Lord Jesus for your preserving your word. You are Lord. Thank you to the servants of the lord that have taken off time to teach this to us. God bless you. Ferdinant Sonyuy.

  16. Calan says:

    Thou art right on, Brother Brandon. I struggled with understanding the “thees” and “thous” in the bible, but thou hast made it clear unto me. I thank thee for thy help. God bless.

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