Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Bookmark and Share

« Extra-Curricular Activities 04/07/12 | Main | Why Don’t We Have A Plural “You”? »


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "You" and "You" - Singular or Plural? (Monday with Mounce 139):


Just a note to say I appreciate your work.

If you lived in the South, you would, of course, know that there is an easily recognizable plural for "you." I have yet, however, found the translation that has been willing to use "you-all" or "y'all" in any substantive way.

The form of you plural we used when I was learning is the southern y'all (except usually I used 'you all'). It is the best I could come up with to try and bring across the force of a plural in the NT.

Many years ago, William Hendriksen used to write you plural as y o u

There’s a very simple solution. The plural of you is y’all, and the plural of y’all is all o’ y’all.

This is one single thing we miss from KJV English! Not because thou, thy, etc. are used to address in prayer, etc. but in every day English.

Some translations resort to typographic device - subscript italic p after 'you' (in ALT); some with superscript after 'you' + (in UPDV); small caps as in YOU (in NWT). Be that it may, typography itself does not help differentiate when read aloud. I use - ů as in yoů. In addition, I use liberally the phrase you all, all of you, or a contracted form y'all (a Southern regional dialect).

"I wish modern English had a different form for “you” plural."

Us Texans haven't had that issue, we just say "y'all" (you plural) :)

Or we could use the terminology that's been standard for centuries: thee, thou, thy, thine and ye.

These words represent an elegant solution to your problem.

A Southern Translation might be able to greater clarify the plural "y'all". I had a professor who thought of it.

Ha ha...I'm with all the folks that would suggest formally adding y'all to our vocabulary. It is very helpful slang. :)

As a native of Western Pennsylvania, I have to put in a vote for yinz. http://www.pittsburghese.com/glossary.ep.html?type=other

That's one of the things I appreciate about Spanish. Singular and plural forms for the second person pronouns.

You, thee, thou – singular.
Ye – plural.

If you use a KJV Bible, you don't have to wonder whether "you" is singular or plural.

It was a device used by the translators for this purpose, since it wasn't common spoken language even at that time.

Ariel and others,

"If you use a KJV Bible, you don't have to wonder whether "you" is singular or plural."

Except your little formula doesn't work on every occasion. The KJV uses both you and ye in the verse mentioned in this blog. John 1:51. And yet both are plural "yous" according to ESV translators.

I have to agree with a couple other commenters--this is where the KJV really comes in handy. Of course, I wouldn't say it is the "one single thing" we miss--that would overlook all of the poetic imagery and metaphorical language that was translated quite directly in the KJV and not in most other translations...

Yeah, that's why I still keep a KJV around.

I agree with Brian Roden's comment above, and have advised many over the years who do not have facility in the Greek New Testament to consult the KJV in their studies for accuracy with the number and case of personal pronouns.

See Doug Kutilek's helpful article on this at http://www.kjv-only.com/theethou.html [accessed 10 APR 2012]. By the way, do not be alarmed by the name of his web site! Doug is certainly anything but "KJV-Only", as you will soon detect as you read this article!

Another alternative:
William Hendriksen addresses this issue in his New Testament Commentary series published by Baker. He does so by placing spaces between the letters of the second person plural pronoun:

"Please Note
In order to differentiate between the second person plural (see Luke 12:57: "Why do y o u not judge...?") and the second person singular (the next verse: "...when you are going"), the letters in "y o u pl." are spaced, those in "you sing." are not."

Source: William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pg. xiii.

Note: This constructive alternative utilized by Hendriksen helps with the issue of number (singular versus plural), but does nothing for the loss of distinction of the case (nominative/subjective versus genitive/objective), which is understood to be of lesser concern.

The example Hendriksen cites in his commentary on Matthew is 26:64 where the differentiation of the second person singular pronoun from the second person plural pronoun is noted. Other examples are cited where this note is found in some of his other commentaries (but not all). It appears that Simon Kistemaker did not continue this practice when he continued the series following Hendriksen's death as, for example, no such note is found at the beginning of his volume on Hebrews. However, Logos includes a note on this set they offer on their site:
"Please Note: In order to differentiate between the second person singular and the second person plural, the publisher indicated the former as follows: “you”; and the latter as follows: “y o u.” The digital edition follows this innovation." Source: Logos at http://www.logos.com/product/4233/bakers-new-testament-commentary [accessed 10 APR 2012].

And a word from the really far south. That is, Downunder in Australia.

More working class Australians would say "youse" for the plural. As in, "Hey, are youse (i.e. all) coming to church with me tonight?"

And so in the Australian Slang Version, 1 Timothy 6:21 would end, "Grace be with youse", making it more obvious that the first of Paul's letters to Timothy the pastor was nevertheless meant to be read aloud in the presence of the people in the church at Ephesus!

My grandfather (second-generation Russian-American) always said "yous" for the second-person plural.

Don't forget about the easterners.
There is you's (As in all of you) spoken mostly in New Jersey and New York and the Pennsylvanian and Northern West Virginian
You'ns (you ones) pronounced yuns or yinz.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Koinoniablog.net Analytics

  • :