previous next

PRONOUNS, PERSONAL. Ye and you; difference between

Ye. In the original form of the language ye is nominative, you accusative. This distinction, however, though observed in our version of the Bible, was disregarded by Elizabethan authors, and ye seems to be generally used in questions, entreaties, and rhetorical appeals. Ben Jonson says: "The second person plural is for reverence sake to some singular thing." He quotes-- “O good father dear,
Why make ye this heavy cheer?” GOWER. Compare:

“I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard.

You taught me how to know the face of right,
And come ye now to tell me John hath made
His peace with Rome?

“The more shame for ye; holy men I thought ye.

“Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong.

“I'the name of truth,
Are ye fantastical? . . . My noble partner
You greet with present grace.

Ye and your seem used indiscriminately in Temp. v. 1. 33-8, "Ye elves . . . and ye that . . . you demi-puppets . . . and you whose pastime is, &c."

The confusion between you and ye is illustrated by the irregularity of the following: “What mean you . . . do ye not know? . . . If, therefore, at the
first sight ye doe give them to understand that you are come hither
. . . do you not think? Therefore, if you looke . . .” N. P. 170.

Sometimes ye seems put for you when an unaccented syllable is wanted:

“I never loved you much; but I ha' prais'd ye.

and perhaps in

“Ye shall, my lord,

the "shall" being emphatic, and ye unemphatic, but the Folio varies here, as frequently in this play.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: