Tips for Reading the KJV: Thee and Thou, Ye and You

One of the most common questions people ask me is, what about thee and thou in the KJV? Don’t all of those thee’s and thou’s make the King James Bible too difficult to understand?

What if I told you that I could explain those words to you in five minutes or less? That it’s easy to understand.

And that those words actually give you more information that will lead to less confusion and greater understanding of the Bible?

Would you THEN consider reading the King James Bible?

Are thee and thou too difficult to understand?

If you’ve heard from the publishers of the modern versions, rest assured you don’t have to believe them. I’ve even heard pastors and youth leaders making fun of the thee’s and thou’s of God’s word (but this will be to their own detriment on judgment day).

If the fact that there are thee’s and thou’s in the Bible is the best reason someone can give for not reading the King James Bible, you can be sure there is an enemy at work who is trying to wrest God’s pure words from you.

Rest assured, you can set that reason aside. Not only is it possible to easily understand what those words mean, but you can know for sure that God has important reasons for using them.

Three tips for understanding thee and thou, ye and you

Understanding thee and thou, and ye and you, in the KJV is actually very simple. Once you learn it, you’ll never forget it! You’ll be blessed with that knowledge the rest of your life. And you can apply it to the Bible, to other literature, even to hymns, where those words are still in use today.

Here are the three things you need to know to make understanding easy:

1. Thee and Thou are used in conversation.

First, the thee’s and thou’s and ye’s and you’s are all used only in conversation, when one person is talking to another.

2. One person or more than one?

Next, you can know whether the speaker is talking to one person or more than one person by which of those words he uses:

• If the writer is using a T-word like thee or thou, he’s talking to one person.

If the writer uses a Y word, like ye or you, he’s talking to more than one person.

3. The letters are a picture.

Finally, it’s easy to remember what I just showed you by looking at the letters themselves almost as a picture:

• The T has a single line across the top, therefore Thee and Thou mean one person.

The Y has two lines extending from its base, therefore You and Ye are plural.

Easy, right?

Thee and thou: Faithful to the original languages

Here’s something else many people don’t know:

The truth is, when the King James Bible was written, the thee’s and thou’s were not part of normal conversation either.

The translators chose to use them because they were faithful to the distinctions between singular and plural forms of you in the original languages.

Many languages around the world have different words for singular and plural versions of “you.” In Spanish, for example, “tu” is you, singular, and “ustedes” is you, plural. But in English, you can be singular or plural (you as a group). This is a huge help to readers whose second language is English.

So it only makes sense that the translators would choose to use words where that distinction can be made. Because, as you’ll soon see, we need to know if God is speaking to an individual or to people as a group.

Still with me? Fist bump and high fives all around. You’re doing great!!

Thee and thou in the KJV give more meaning

Now let me show you an example of where this language in the KJV gives more meaning and clears up confusion:

In John 3, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night to find out the truth about salvation, incredulous at the concept of being born again.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

—John 3:3, 7 (italics mine)

Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus (thee) but saying that everyone (Ye) who wants to see the kingdom of God must be born again. This distinction and important truth is lost in every English translation except the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.

I don’t know about you, but I think God is the one who gave us very specific words that would further our understanding. After all, God is not the author of confusion. So don’t you agree that giving us words that cannot be confused sounds exactly like something God would do?

Rightly dividing the word of truth

I really have no excuse for saying this is too hard for me. He died for me, so the least I can do is obey him when he says to study his word.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”

—2 Timothy 2:15

If we apply ourselves unto wisdom, he will show himself faithful. I’m praying for you as you study God’s word and search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so!

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

—Proverbs 2:1-6

“Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”

—Proverbs 23:12

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  1. Jerry & Wanda Keene says:

    We have always been a Kjv believer; and i find your true truth very rewarding; Wanda & i started this journey 55+ yrs ago & have never been tempted to try any of these so called new versions of the word of man; thank you for being faithful to Gods word;👨‍🌾🧑🏻‍🌾✝️❤️🇺🇸

  2. Steve Wilder says:

    Thank you for this good article explaining the King James Bible English. I believe that the King James Bible is God’s word in the English language. There are so many out there that use the language as an excuse. They are not Bible believers, they are multiple manuscripts believers. The KJV was translated by formal equivalence, word for word from the manuscripts that the translators used. The modern versions, are translated under dynamic equivalence, basically conversation style. By making the thees and thous, you and ye to read all “you, your” the distinction is erased.

  3. darren says:

    as i read this article ,i have been on a journey got saved 2020 and have took nearly 3yrs to figure out Kng James is the ONLY bible i should as i was reading today (5.6.23) i says to myself i need to understand this old English… i came across you wonderful page and want to say thank you..can you guess what i was reading when i came to this decision? proverbs 2!! and you have it on this article!! God is good!! thank you again for your simple teaching..
    God bless

  4. Jean says:

    Thank you. I pray the LORD blesses you dear one.



Are you interested in studying the Bible but you aren’t sure which version to choose?

Have you ever wanted to read the King James Bible, but someone told you it was too difficult?

My name is Michele, and I’ve had those same questions too. 

In my 23 years as a Christian, I’ve read many of the modern Bible versions. But once I started reading the King James version, I discovered it was unlike anything I had ever read before, and I want to share that joy with you.

I’m here to dispel the myth that the KJV is hard to read. To give you tools and tips to get started. And to encourage you as you begin reading the greatest book that’s ever been written!

Thank You

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