Thee Thy Thou Thine

Thee Thy Thou Thine: Understanding the Use of Old English Pronouns

The English language has evolved significantly over the years, but remnants of old English still exist in modern-day usage. One notable example is the use of second-person pronouns like thee, thy, thou, and thine. These pronouns may seem archaic, but they were once commonplace and understanding their use can provide valuable insight into the English language’s development.

Thou vs. You

Thou and you both serve as second-person pronouns, but they are not interchangeable. Thou is singular and informal, while you is both singular and plural and is typically used in formal and informal settings. In other words, thou addresses a single person in a familiar tone, while you can refer to one or more people formally or informally.

Thou art a great writer. (singular, informal)
You are a great writer. (singular or plural, formal or informal)

Thy and Thine

Thy and thine are possessive pronouns and are used to indicate ownership or possession. They are both the equivalent of “your” in modern English. However, thy is used before a consonant sound, while thine is used before a vowel sound.
Thy book is on the table. (consonant sound)
Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. (vowel sound)

Thy and Thine can also be used as an adjective, such as “Thy smile is beautiful” or “Thine eyes are beautiful”.

The Decline of Thee, Thy, Thou, and Thine

The usage of thee, thy, thou, and thine declined over time, and by the 17th century, they were considered archaic. However, their usage endured in specific dialects or religious texts, such as the King James Bible. As the English language evolved, the use of these pronouns was replaced with “you” and “your” for singular and plural.

The Use of Thee, Thy, Thou, and Thine Today

While these pronouns are no longer common, their usage is still seen in the modern era in certain religious contexts, Shakespearean plays, and in archaic writing styles.

Shakespearean language often uses the thou, thee, thy, and thine to add a sense of formality or intimacy to a scene. For example, Romeo and Juliet exchange dialogue in this style several times. “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief.”

The King James Bible is another widely recognized text that uses the thee. thy, thou, and thine pronouns. These pronouns were used to convey reverence to God and to distinguish the formal and informal nature when addressing God.

In modern times, thee, thy, thou, and thine are rarely used in everyday speech or writing. However, their usage can still be seen in period dramas or classic literature, which enhances the authenticity and accurate representation of a particular historical era or context.


The use of thee, thy, thou, and thine may seem archaic, but they have played a significant role in the evolution of the English language. Its usage in certain religious and literary texts and period dramas highlights its importance and relevance in modern times. The history, usage, and decline of these pronouns are a testament to the fluidity of language and the influence of culture on language development. Understanding the correct usage of these pronouns allows us to appreciate the evolution of the English language and its impact on contemporary society.

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