Thee vs Thou? What is the difference?

Both thee and thou are obsolete forms of the pronoun “you”. Both words are no longer used in the modern English language. However, the words do come up quite often in classic literature.

Read on to learn the etymology of the words, their proper uses, and examples of both.

History of Thee and Thou

Thee and thou, although old Norse words, were first used in Middle English as a show of respect to the person one was speaking to. The words are historically associated with the rise of Quakerism.

While both words are not commonly used today, they can be found in archaic and historical documents, as well as the complete work of William Shakespeare.

Because the words are closely associated with the rise in Quakerism, the words today are most commonly found within the Christian Bible.

Thee and Thou Definitions

Thee and thou are both forms of the word “you”. Thee is the singular object of a verb or preposition while though is only the singular object of a verb. This means that although they both mean “you”, only one can be plural.

Which Should Be Used?

If you are writing a document, acting a part, or otherwise in need of period language, it can be confusing on which word to use. There is a simple trick to apply the use of modern English to determine which Old English form you should use.

If you were to use the form “she and me” in English, you would use the word “thee” instead. If you were to use the form of “she and I” in modern English, you would instead use the word “thou”.

Examples of How to Use Thee

If you would like to understand how to better use the old word “thee” within a sentence, some examples are:

Thou loved me until your dying breath.
Thou are respected by all but loved by none.
Thou are a beast in the best way.
Examples of How to Use Thou

Examples of how to properly use “thou” in a sentence

I want to offer thee love and admiration forever.
She does not care for thee any longer.
With this ring, I thee wed.

What about Thy and Thine?

Thy and Thine are the possessive adjectives of you from early English. Thy was used in place of “Your” when the following word began with a consonant sound and Thine was used when the following word had a vowel sound. Thine was also used in place of “Yours”.

Where is thy horse? (Where is your horse?).

Who owns the horse? It is thine. (Who owns the horse? It is yours).

Modern Usage

The words “thee” and “thou” are no longer used in Modern English. Both have been replaced by the singular “you”. This was a great adaptation that causes much less confusion.