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Friday, February 22, 2013

Use of "-est" and "-eth" in the KJV

Many people, both friends and foes of the King James Bible, do not understand the use of "-est" and "-eth" verbs in the KJV. Yet how often do we spend time to help those who are trying to read and understand it? The verb forms of the KJV are in simple and consistent pattern. The 2nd person and 3rd person singular verb endings are different than what we encounter in modern writings. What do they mean?

• The –st endings are used with the 2nd person singular (thou). E.g., “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness...” (Psalm 45:7).
• The –th endings are used with the 3rd person singular (he/she/it). E.g., “For he that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life...” (John 12:25).
• The 1st person singular (I), and plural pronouns (we/ye/they) use the same endings as modern English forms:
  E.g. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.” (2 Cor. 11:11)
  E.g. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
  E.g. “...they love him that speaketh right.” (Proverbs 16:13)

Verbs: Use of "-est" and "-eth" in the KJV
Person

Singular
Plural
Example
1st
I
n/a
n/a
I love
We
n/a
n/a
We love
2nd
Thou
-est
n/a
Thou lovest
Ye
n/a
n/a
Ye love
3rd
He/She/It
- eth
n/a
He loveth
They
n/a
n/a
They love

Unlike the “ye/thou” differences, the "-est" and "-eth" endings do not provide more accuracy to the text. It is simply a matter of understanding grammar and the verb conjugation if you are reading the KJV. I have not examined every verb. Knowing that the English language is a language full of irregular verbs and exceptions to rules, I would caution that you may run across some exceptions to the above “rule”.

[Note: Some have made claims that the "-est" and "-eth" suffixes on verbs signify continual action (Greek "perfect tense") as opposed to one-time action (Greek "aorist tense"). In fact these tenses in the Greek language are absent in the English language. So in this case there is no difference between old English and modern English translations. Following this erroneous explanation for the -est and -eth endings will lead one into errors of interpretation.]

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