I am writing my own tales and poems and in those I often need to use the pronoun THOU, to mark clearly the difference between plural and singular second person. There seems to be many intricacies and disagreements about how to conjugate in this person, however I have developed for myself this simple rule, analogical to the third person conjugation:

With the exception of commonly known irregular verbs, conjugate with -st when in the third person the conjugation would be with -s, and with -est, when in the third person the conjugation would be with -es.

This applies even in cases where the last letter of the infinitive is -t:

  • He acts > Thou actst
  • He departs > Thou departst
  • He sets > Thou setst

For past tense: Regular past tense is always with -dst. Irregular past tense ended in -t goes this way:

  • Thou leftst
  • Thou departst
  • Thou sleptst

So far, when in doubt, I have searched actual uses of such conjugation in the corpus (or the internet), I usually find usages in 19th century books and sometimes in 20th century works, often translations, often from the bible and other classic books like the Rigveda. I use these examples as a seal of approval that this is not my imaginary conjugation, however I do find often also uses in the other way, with -est when I use -st, for example, and sometimes the -est variant seems even more prevalent. However I am trying to maintain myself constant and coherent, and so I opt for my rule always.

The question here is, whether this is an acceptable simplification of this rule, and sufficient, or whether this would be seen as wrong and unacceptable? Consider please that it is not my intention at all to be loyal to, or to emulate, the "early modern English" usage, or the Shakespeare style, nor anything like that, I am using "thou" but the rest of the sentence has nothing to do with antique language or Shakespeare or anything of that. My intention is to keep this pronoun alive, at least in my writings, because it brings a nuance that is important, at least in my writings. So this is the singular second person, "thou", being used in contemporary English.

However I do fear somewhat the scolding and criticism by some readers that might end up saying that I have no idea what I am doing, that I should not write like that because I don't know how to (even though I think of this very carefully, as you can see).

So, is this way of conjugating acceptable, grammatically, according to your informed opinion?

The corpus example method of validation is the only way I know to "validate" a grammar rule.


1 Answer 1


One place to look is



After doing a few dozen of these, maybe you will start to see a pattern.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.