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Difference Between Thy & Thine (Thou & Thee)

Difference Between Thy & Thine (Thou & Thee)

Thy and Thine are the archaic forms of “your/yours”. Thy is used before words beginning in consonants whereas Thine is used for words beginning with the letter “h” or vowels. They both in the possessive form.

Thee, thou, and thine are three pronouns that are not commonly employed in Modern English since they belong to the Shakespearean language or Old English.

Anyone who has ever read Shakespeare is aware of the use of these archaic forms. Thee, thou, and thy all are archaic names of you, which can cause confusion for those studying the English language. This article takes a close examination at thee, thou, thy, and thine to try and identify their distinctions.

Thy, and thine are the archaic forms of the plural second pronoun “your”, and “yours”.

There were three versions of “you” in the archaic Shakespearean language that were heavily derived from Greek or Hebrew languages. “Thee” is the most common type of you, it is accusative or an oblique form of you. Another type of you, which was utilized often throughout Shakespearean dialect was the possessive “yours” which was represented by the word “thine”.

Keep reading to know more.

What does “thou” mean?

Thou is similar to the usage of “you” in Modern English. It’s used to refer to only one person and is often the subject of a verb.

For example:

  • I’m hurt by thou
  • Thou art adored by the majority of people.
  • Thou art a monster.

Take “I’m hurt by thou” and notice that “thou” is the subject of the verb “hurt”. It is also being used to refer to the second person the speaker is speaking to.

The spine of a thick book
The modern translation of thou is you.

What is “thee”?

“Thee”, similar to “thou”, also refers to the singular pronoun of “you. However, “thee” refers to its objective form, meaning it is only used when the person you’re referring to is the object of a sentence receiving an action.

For example: I caught you!

The “You” being used is the object to the verb caught. If we were to use “thee”, it would be:

I caught thee!”

Other examples would be:

  • I will fight thee!
  • I wed thee
  • For thee we pray

The Definition of “Thine” and “Thy”

“Thine” and “Thy” are both similar to the possessive “yours” and “your” in the present day. This means they are used to indicate possession.

For example: Thine is the power and glory. (Yours is the power and glory or The power and glory is yours.)

Thine is also used after nouns or words beginning with a vowel.

For example: Look upon thine own heart. (Look upon your own heart)

Similarly, “thy” is used in the same way, but without as much restrictions. Some might even say “thy” is the informal version of “thine”, but there’s nothing to base that on. Either way, “thy” is the archaic possessive form of “your”

Examples:

  • Honor thy mother and father.
  • May thy wishes come true.
  • I respect thy decisions.

Have a quick look at this informative video for a clearer depiction of their differences.

The difference between thee, thou, thy, and thine

Are thou, thee, thy still used in the present?

They are used only in certain dialects spoken in certain regions in the present. 

Words like thou and thy are not entirely obsolete in the modern world. Popular literary works like Shakespeare keep them alive enough to still be used in theater or sometimes academic writings. However, no one ever uses these words casually, and when they unironically do, they’re often seen as pretentious or stuck up.

The spine of a book
Thou and thy are still being used today.

How to use Thee, Thou, Thy, Thine?

“Thou” and “Thee” are both used in place of “you”.

Use “Thou” when using the subjective form of “you”. “Holier than thou

Use “Thee” when using the objective form of “you” or when “you” is the recipient of an action. “I caught thee stealing!”

“Thy” and “Thine” are both used in place of “your/yours”

Use “Thine” before a noun or a word beginning in a vowel. “Thine heart is true”

Use “Thy” for words beginning with consonants. “Love thy neighbor.”

What’s the point of using archaic language in modern times?

Archaic language can be used in modern setting to bring an air of elegance to a literary piece.

Although some believe that the use of archaic languages is now pointless or outdated, many scholars and academics still find significance in using these forms of English.

But it’s not only the scholars that find significance in this language. Many contemporary poets utilize archaism to express their intention in a deeper manner.

Some would argue that using archaism in modern times outside of a literary analysis is pretentious, however, some would also argue that archaism, when used in the right way, can offer a certain elegance to a literary piece.

What are works that use archaic language?

The spines of books
Shakespeare often used archaic language

Probably the most popular example of literature that uses archaic language are works of Shakespeare.

Although archaic language can be traced back to medieval times, its use is mostly associated with William Shakespeare; the famous playwright and poet. A few examples of his work are Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and most famously, Romeo and Juliet.

However, it wasn’t just Shakespeare who used the archaic language. Popular authors like Ernest Hemingway and S.T Coleridge used this form of language as well.

Here’s an excerpt from Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bells Toll”

‘I obscenity in the milk of thy tiredness,’ Agustín said.
‘Then go and befoul thyself,’ Pilar said to him without heat.
‘Thy mother,’ Agustín replied.”

Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bells Toll

Conclusion

Thine and thy are part of the archaic language, as well as the words “thee” and “thou”. Although they’re no longer commonly used in modern times, they’re still being utilized by scholars, poets, and playwrights.

In its most basic form, “thine”, “thy”, “thee”, and “thou” all mean you. However, the difference lies in their usage.

Here’s a table that summarizes their difference and uses:

Word (Archaic)Word (ModernWhen to Use
ThouYouSubjective pronoun
TheeYouObjective pronoun
ThyYourPossessive form of you. Usually in front of a word beginning With a consonant.
ThineYour/yoursPossessive form of you. Usually with words beginning in “h” or vowels.
The difference between thou, thee, thy, and thine.

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