Elizabethan English

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Elizabethan English is an early form of modern English, most often associated with the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible.


The most striking difference between Elizabethan English and later forms is the use of the words thee, thou and ye and the verb endings -eth and -est.

Thee, thou and ye are all forms of the modern English word you. Thee is used for the object and thou for the subject (in much the same way as me and I are used for object and subject in modern English). Ye is used either for multiple people or on formal occasions.

Thy and thine roughly correspond to your and yours although Shakespeare seems to use the two words interchangeably.


The following words are typical of Elizabethan language, but not commonly used in modern English.

  • anon: later
  • prating: babbling
  • wherefore: why