Pronoun and Verb in Shakespeare
IN his Sonnets Shakespeare sometimes addresses the young man whom he loves as 'thou' and at other times as 'you'. Each term governs a correct sequence of oblique cases and possessives: thus 'thee', 'thy', 'thine' agree with 'thou'; 'your' and 'yours' agree with 'you'.
The 'thou'-sonnets, according to the 1609 Quarto numbering, are:
1-12; 14; 18-20; 22; 24; 26-32; 34-51; 56; 60-2; 69-70; 73; 77-9; 82-93; 99-101; 107-10; 122; 125-6; 128.
(Altogether 73 sonnets.)
The following are the sonnets wherein he addresses the young man as 'you':
13; 15-17; 24; 52-4; 55; 57-9; 71-2; 80-1; 83-6; 98; 102; 104; 106; 112-15; 117-18; 120.
(Altogether 37 sonnets. Note that the last 'you' in the series occurs in sonnet 120. Also note that sonnet number 24 appears in both lists.)
It will also be seen that there are almost exactly twice as many 'thou'-sonnets as there are 'you'-sonnets: that is, among those addressed to, or dealing with, the young man -- which are the ones I shall mainly discuss. Yet, the proportion of 'thou'
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Publication information: Book title: Poets' Grammar:Person, Time, and Mood in Poetry. Contributors: Francis Berry - Author. Publisher: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1958. Page number: 36.
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