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I'm analyzing this phrase:

Only if ye are sorrowful, or weary, or angry, or discomforted; then ye may know that ye have lost the golden thread, the thread wherewith I guide you to the heart of the groves of Eleusis.

The full text is a modern text written in "old" english, with such things as "giveth" all around.

My question is: how should we interpret the variation between "ye" and "you"? My first inclination was to read this as a difference between singular and plural. However, in the phrase above, the number of addressees doesn't seem to change.

Is this simply incorrect? What meaning could it possibly have?

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    The most well-known standardized pattern of usage is "ye" for subject-case pronouns and "you" for object case. Of course there was some variation in usage between dialects and during the long period when "ye" was dying but not yet dead. They are used correctly in this passage; the author seems to have actually done some research. You can find information about the case of "ye" in its entry in a good dictionary such as the American Heritage Dictionary or Merriam Webster. – sumelic Mar 22 '17 at 21:58
  • @sumelic Well color me embarrassed. Deleting my earlier comment. – Dan Bron Mar 23 '17 at 1:18
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If we convert the passage so it speaks of a man in the third person we would say:

Only if he is sorrowful, or weary, or angry, or discomforted; then he may know that he has lost the golden thread, the thread wherewith I guide him to the heart of the groves of Eleusis.

So ye is to he as you is to him, that is ye is the subject form and you is the object form.

We have this on the authority of the King James Bible (1611) where we read in John's Gospel, chapter 8, verse 32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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