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The personal pronoun 'thou' [ðʌu], indicating the second person singular, has fallen out of common use in modern English and is considered archaism, has survived in the use of some dialects.

Forms of The Pronoun 'Thou'

Declension of The Pronoun 'Thou'
Subjective Case Objective Case Reflexive Pronoun Possessive Pronoun
Determinative Form Absolute Form
thou [ðʌu] thee [ðɪ:] thyself [ðʌɪ'self] thy [ðʌɪ]
thine* [ðʌɪn]
* used before a word starting with a vowel sound: 'thine eyes', but 'thy hand'

Conjugation of Verbs with The Pronoun 'Thou'

When conjugated with the pronoun 'thou', verbs in the present tense form take the ending -est [st]:

  • Thou readest seldom. [rɪ:dst]

If there is a silent -e in the base form at the end of the verb, then one e is omitted:

  • tie → Thou tiest my hands

If the base form of the verb ends in -y, preceded by a consonant, then y changes to i:

  • study → Thou studiest English grammar.

When conjugated with 'thou', verbs in the past tense form have the ending -edst:

  • Thou askedst too much questions.

If there is a silent -e in the base form at the end of the verb, then one e is omitted:

  • decide → thou decidedst

The ending -(e)dst is read as [ɪdst] after consonants t and d, as [dst] after vowels and voiced consonants, and as [tst] after voiceless consonants:

  • want [wɔnt] → wantedst [wɔntɪdst]
  • play [pleɪ] → playedst [pleɪdst]
  • open ['əupən] → openedst ['əupəndst]
  • work [wə:rk] → workedst [wə:rktst]

If a verb ends in y with a consonant in front of it, then y changes to ie without changing the pronunciation:

  • try → triedst [trʌɪdst]

If a verb consisting of one or two syllables ends in a consonant preceded by a short sound, then the final consonant is usually doubled:

  • stop → stoppedst

The simple past of irregular verbs with the pronoun 'thou' is formed by adding to the verb in the past tense form the ending -est [st], or -st if the verb ends in e:

  • come - came - camest [keɪmst]
  • meet - met - metest [metst]

It should be noted that the choice between the endings of verbs in -(e)st and -(e)dst, with and without the letter e, is still not unambiguous, since the spelling of that time was not standardized, this concerns the use of not only endings, but also some other points in the grammar of use with the pronoun 'thou'.

Modal verbs are also conjugated with the personal pronoun 'thou'. When conjugating, the spelling of modal and some other verbs differs from the above rules (they have a special form) and they need to be memorized:

Conjugation of modals and some other irregular verbs with the pronoun 'Thou'

infinitive / base present tense form past tense form
can canst couldst
may mayest mightst
will wilt wouldst
shall shalt shouldst
be art
do dost3 [dʌst]
doest [du:ɪst]
have hast [hæst] hadst
  1. (Also 'bist'), the form for the subjunctive mood I of the verb 'be' conjugated with the pronoun 'thou', which fell out of use for the formation of the subjunctive mood I back in the days of medieval England. In modern English, the subjunctive mood I has the form "be" for any person and number. The form 'beest' has sometimes become colloquially used as a replacement for the verb 'art' (the form of the verb "be" conjugated with 'thou' in the present tense):
    • Stephano! If thou beest Stephano, touch me and speak to me. For I am Trinculo – be not afeard – thy good friend Trinculo.[1]
    • How beest thou on this summer day, with thy eyes sparkling like brackish moat water?[2]
  2. The verb form for subjunctive mood II:
    • Wert thou on time, we wouldn't have this problem. – If you were on time, we wouldn't have this problem.
  3. When 'dost' is used as auxiliary verb, compare:
    1. Dost thou know him? (herein 'do' is using as an auxiliary verb)
    2. Thou doest much to him. (herein 'do' is using as a main verb)
1] William Shakespeare. "The Tempest"
2] "Over the Moon": A musical play by Jodi Picoult & Jake van Leer.


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