Submitted by sigurd • December 23, 2011
Since ye is you’s plural, are yer, ye’re and yers respectively your, you’re and yours pluralized, and/or do they have other plural counterparts?
December 25, 2011, 8:33am
Thou and ye ... and you.
Let me see if I can help straighten this out.
thou - 2nd person nom. sing.; thee - 2nd per. obj., thy, thine - possessives (like my, mine)ye - 2nd person nom. pl.; you - 2nd per. obj. pl.; your, yours -possessives pl.
So:thou (subject) - thee (object)ye (subject) - you (object)
Later, copying the French use of tu - vous, ye became a "polite" sing. This caused a lot of confusion and angst ... owing to this, and other things, gradually both thou and ye dropped out as "you" took over both the sing and pl nom. forms and remained the obj. form as well. This is not surprising since "you" is a near homophone with "vous" ... and in the French centric times, it would have eathly slipped in. Since your, yours go with you then they also picked up the sing. use.
You might see "ye" being used as the objective form, but this is an error (albeit a somewhat common one).
Ye have was contracted to yave or y'ave:
To the Kyng ... of your grace especiall Y'ave graunted ..."Rotuli Parliamentorum", c1472
These are considered archaic/dialectal. While most modern speakers don't use them, they would know them ... However, they likely wouldn't know the contractions as they are rarely seen. So I'd stay away from them.
If for some reason, thou art going to benote these words, knowest thou that thou has its own verb form:
Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.- John 16:30 KJV
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December 25, 2011, 2:00pm
Yes, ye ... in the late phases ... can be found being used as the objective ... but again, it was not correct to do so ... and would not be correct to do so now. It was part of the whole confusion that led to thou and ye being dropped altogether. You'll also find thee being used as the subject as well ... again, that's wrong. "You" is the right objective form for ye.
Genesis 19:8 KJVBehold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you (obj pl), bring them out unto you (obj pl), and do ye (subj pl) to them as is good in your (poss pl) eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Most of the time the KJV gets it right (but sometimes, even it mixes them up).
You would be understood. Just as folks are understood when they say, "John and me went to the store." ... It should be John and I. So if you mix 'em up, you'll be understood. It just won't be "right".
And since thou, thee, and ye are no longer taught, most folks don't know the proper forms. Only a few folks like me will notice. I see folks writing fantasy stories trying to use them and messing them up. They also use the old 3rd person sing. ending -eth with other pronouns ... which is also wrong ... or, just as wrong, they use the old -en verbal plural ending in the singular. They're simply not taught, the forms are rarely used, and most folks don't know.
Your and yours ARE the plural forms (see Bible passage above). Thy and thine were the singular forms.
(one) Thou must not forget thy book. ... It's not mine, it's thine.(many) Ye must not not forget your books. ... They're not ours. They're yours.
Nowadays, Thou, thee, thy, and thine are not used ... thus you, your, yours are now both sing. and plural. This leads to informal plural forms like y'all.
Where are y'all going?Are these y'all's books? (Again ... these are "informal".)
If you're writing a fantasy story and want to use them, then the correct way is the way I have outlined. Thou, thee, thy, and thine in the singular and ye, you, your, yours in the plural.
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December 26, 2011, 2:08pm
Again, I refer you to the Bible passage above which shows the right usage. It was written in the 17th Century. Saying "established since the 15th century" is nonsense. It was this type of misuse that was among the reasons that it died out. Repeating an error will not bring it back into usage.
There's nothing "to be practical" about. It simply isn't used in modern English. If you use it wrongly, then it will clash with what folks do know about from the Bible. Again, it is recognizable but rarely used outside of religious contexts. If you use it only as the objective plural, then what about the subjective plural? You can't have one without the other.
How are you going to use it? I see ye ... you can't hide from me! ... Sounds like you're talking to one person. ... I see ye ... y'all can't hide from me! ... Sounds ... well, silly and confusing. Better to say, I see y'all ... y'all can't hide from me. Then everyone knows you're using a plural.
December 24, 2011, 7:25pm
In older English, "ye" was the plural of "thee": it was the plural objective case. As such, you can't say "ye are"; thus no "ye're".
"you" was plural of "thou"; it was also the formal singular (like "vous" in French).
Eventually, "thou" fell out of fashion as being too familiar and impolite sounding, and was supplanted by the formal "you". "ye" eventually merged into "you", leaving us with today's all-purpose second person pronoun.
The possessives were "your" and "yours".
There are some dialects of English where "you" is pronounced "ye", so in such a case you would find "ye're".
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December 26, 2011, 4:28pm
@Sigurd - 'impoverished'? Ask a young French person how they should address an elder cousin, for example: tu or vous? - It's not even always clear to them. I think they'd be quite glad to have our lack of a choice.
Developments in language take place for a reason, and this distinction obviously wasn't necessary. AnWulf has given very good reasons for this. As for ambiguity, sorry, but nonsense. When we use 'you' we are addressing someone or more than one directly. Both sides know who is being referred to. And if we don't, we can simply ask.
I'm sorry to say this, but I really wonder sometimes why you find the natural English we speak and love so unsatisfactory that you're forever wanting to change it.
December 27, 2011, 2:22pm
Ok, while we're at it, how about "we"? I think there should be separate words for "we" that mean "they and I, but not YOU", and "you and I but not they", and "all of us". Come on now. surely, none of your are really serious that we need to (or even can) revamp all English pronouns to suit your particular pet peeves. If ambiguity were a yardstick for evaluating grammar, we'd have plenty more problems to deal with.
January 10, 2012, 5:50am
Y'all (mark the first usage note is disputed): http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/y'all I would go even further and say that the first usage note is downright wrong! Sounds like a damn yankee wrong it! lol
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December 23, 2011, 10:15am
Apparently, ‘ye’re’ and ‘ye’ve’ are English, though deemed archaic.
Maybe ‘yer’ and ‘yers’ exist too (?).
December 24, 2011, 1:22pm
"Ye" is not the plural of "you", it is the plural of "thou". Of course, "ye" (except in Ireland, so I am told) and "thou" are both obsolete in most English dialects, and have both been replaced by "you", which is both singular and plural.
If you are deliberately trying to write in an archaic form of English, using "ye" and "thou", I dare say the forms that you mention would be acceptable.
December 25, 2011, 4:09am
(‘[...] As such, you can't say "ye are"; thus no "ye're".’)
Why not? ‘Ye’ was also used as ‘thou’, wherefore ‘thou art/are’ is ‘ye are’, ‘ye’re’.
December 25, 2011, 8:44am
I’d rather not stay away from them. I’m curious and seek answers. I want to know if ‘your’ and ‘yours’’s plural exist or have been used in English.
Moreover, according to the OED, ‘ye’ was also used as the objective form in the 15th century AD.
December 26, 2011, 7:07am
Likewise, ‘you’ should only be a plural, yet, like ‘ye’, it’s been established as meaning something else too in more recent times.
Ideally, if ‘thou’, ‘thee’, ‘thy’ and ‘thine’ were in use today, ‘ye’ should only be ‘thou’’s plural. However, since they no longer are, I’m willing to accept ‘ye’’s other meaning alongside its original one for practicality’s sake.
I don’t write fantasy stories but think modern English should definitely have a proper objective plural to remove the ambiguity of the nowadays both singular and plural ‘you’. Many other languages have both forms, and I don’t see why the English language must be impoverished by removing the other. It’s too impractical.
Established since the 15th century, I think ‘ye’ works well as the plural objective form too, and most people would understand it.
December 26, 2011, 5:12pm
AnWulf, I meant using ‘ye’ as both the subjective and objective plural as I stated in ‘[...] willing to accept ‘ye’’s other meaning *alongside* its original one [...].’
Also, what do you (or should I type ‘thou’?) think about the current ‘‘error/misuse’’ of the singular ‘you’? Or do you (oops, I did it again) regularly use ‘thou’?
December 26, 2011, 5:30pm
Warsaw Will: ‘‘When we use 'you' we are addressing someone or more than one directly. Both sides know who is being referred to.’’
Balderdash. There are plenty of situations where an audience is uncertain whether or not ‘you’ refers to the person hearing it or another one hearing it or to more than one hearing it.
‘‘And if we don't, we can simply ask.’’
Is asking more practical than just using a simple word, which immediately clarified the difference in first place?
‘‘[...] I really wonder sometimes why you find the natural English we speak and love so unsatisfactory that you're forever wanting to change it.’’
Apart from this thread's topic, do I ‘‘find the natural English we speak and love so unsatisfactory’’ that I'm ‘‘forever wanting to change it’’?
December 27, 2011, 9:59am
@Sigurd - OK, I'm sorry for the last part; I was thinking of the business with ‘Loxley’s Robin’, A Loxley’s townsman and an Arc’s townswoman'. I'm afraid I still don't find these natural English, and we already have perfectly good expressions to describe these people. :)
Back to the use of 'you' - Have you really ever had any serious problems of understanding because we have a joint singular and plural form? I can't remember having done so. Don't you think that if there had been a real problem, the language would have adapted somehow.
My objection is that this singular/plural 'you' is quite an important element of our language, for reasons already put forward by bubbha and AnWulf. Languages that have separate singular and plural forms often end up with the latter being used as a formal singular form, and the former being used to speak to imagined 'inferiors'. When, for example, a French policeman calls you 'tu' instead of 'vous', you know you're in trouble.
In English we don't have that problem, and this suits me just fine.
December 27, 2011, 12:12pm
‘‘Don't you think that if there had been a real problem, the language would have adapted somehow.’’
Language doesn’t always evolve for the better/to be practical. And, yes, I and many other people have been in situations where ‘you’’s singularity or plurality has not been clear upon hearing it. Most anglophones probably have.
‘‘Languages that have separate singular and plural forms often end up with the latter being used as a formal singular form, and the former being used to speak to imagined 'inferiors'.’’
This needn’t be the case with English. My point is using ‘ye’ as both the subjective and objective plurals for practical differentiation from the singular ‘you’, not for addressing a single person, which is unnecessary etiquette in English. That way, the problem is solved.
December 27, 2011, 1:46pm
If one were only looking for a plural form for the subj. and obj. cases, then ye could slide into that but then there are still the poss. forms to deal with. But ye has baggage. Thanks to the effort of many to copy the French/Latin way of using the plural for a polite singular, Ye became associated with a kind of snobbery. That was part of the grounds for it falling out. Thou got caught up in this by association. So you took over for both the subj and obj. as well as sing. and pl. If there were an attempt to bring back ye, then there would likely also be an attempt by some to use it as a polite singular ... which would lead to dying again eftsoons.
Bring back thou has its own problems. Mainly that it has a separate verb form. Folks aren't going to bother when it isn't needed.
The plural problem is solved in different ways. In the South there is y'all (you all) as both the subj and object, yalls for the poss. In the northeast, there is youse (you+s), in the mountains, I'v heard youins ... up north, they say yu guys. So there are several forms for the pl you and they can't be turned into a polite sing. form to befuddle everything again ... It's only that none of them are are in the grammar books and formally taught. English may be lacking a formal plural form, but there is no dearth of plural forms to be found!
December 27, 2011, 9:45pm
I’m aware there’d still be a lack of the possessive forms, but, even with just the readdition of a clear objective and subjective plural, English is much more practical, even if it’s just in personal use.
December 27, 2011, 10:04pm
Porsche: ‘‘Come on now. surely, none of your are really serious that we need to (or even can) revamp all English pronouns to suit your particular pet peeves.’’
I know an official change is probably unlikely in the near future, but, to me, addressing the obvious lack of pronoun forms which many other languages have (many do, and without befogging etiquette) is better than being apathetic and passive about it.
Also, as I’ve continuously stated, it isn’t just my ‘‘pet peeve’’ but also that of many anglophones and people who speak foreign languages and who are used to using the obviously practical distinction.
December 29, 2011, 5:48am
@porsche ... OE did hav duals. We still kind of see it with the word two added ... "What are you two doing?" After two, it becomes plural (OK, I hav heard three but after that!) ... "What are y'all doing?"
@sigurd ... It's not that English lacks a sunder 2nd person plural form, it's that grammarians and pedants spurn the informal ones like y'all. Thus, none of them are taught worldwide. As a Southerner, y'all (maybe it is time to drop the ' ... yall) rolls off my tung eathly and often.
December 30, 2011, 2:06pm
@Sigurd - Not only is an official change unlikely in the near future, it is impossible; there is no official authority to make that decision, thank God. And even if there was one, do you think they'd really make a change which would go so fundamentally against the nature of the language?
I think you give the game away when you talk of anglophones. I understand that Finnish, to take an example purely at random, is a fiendishly difficult language to learn. But there is no reason why I should expect Finns to change their language for my benefit.
I've never heard of any native speaker having problems with this. Nor have I come across any problems with it amongst my EFL students.
December 30, 2011, 11:20pm
I don't think it's againt the nature of English, since they used to be part of it and still are dialectally and ecclesiastically at least.
Also, I was typing about the practicality of single-worded differentiation which is nothing new to English, not about whether or not a language is difficult.
December 30, 2011, 11:21pm
December 31, 2011, 3:15am
My final comment: I'm interested in the real world of how modern standard English works. To me, that is fascinating enough without getting into the realm of if's and but's. The 'game' - Although your English is excellent, I don't think you're a native speaker. That in no way means you haven't just as much right to comment as anyone else. But I do think it means you see English from a different perspective from me.
December 31, 2011, 3:49am
I didn't say I'm a native English speaker, and, regardless of whether or not I see English from a different perspective because of it, both native and non-native anglophones have experienced the same problems in regards to the thread's topic.
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