Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

printable study guide online download notes summary

<- Previous | First | Next ->

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


Shakespearean verb forms differ from modern usage in three main ways:

1. Questions and negatives could be formed without using 'do/did' as when Mercutio asks:
Came he not home tonight? (II, iv, 1)

where today we would say:

'Did he not come home tonight?'

or where Benvolio tells Romeo:
Stand not amazed... (III, i, 136)

where modern usage demands: 'Don't stand there looking surprised.'

Shakespeare had the option of using forms a. and b. whereas contemporary usage permits only the a. forms:

Is Romeo coming? Comes Romeo?
Did Romeo come? Came Romeo?
You do not look well You look not well
You did not look well You looked not well

2. A number of past participles and past tense forms are used that would be ungrammatical today. Among these are:

'drive' for 'drove':
A troubled mind drive me to walk abroad (I, i, 118)

'create' for 'created':
O anything of nothing first create! (I, i, 175)

'took' for 'taken':
Very well took i' faith (II, iv, 124)

'forbid' for 'forbidden':
The Prince expressly hath Forbid this bandying...(III, i, 87-88)

'becomed' for 'becoming':
And gave him what becomed love I might (IV, ii, 26)

and 'writ' for 'wrote':
Meantime I writ to Romeo (V, iii, 245)

3. Archaic verb forms sometimes occur with 'thou' and with 'he/she/it':

...thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more... (III, i, 17)

I see thou knowest me not (III, i, 64)

Come, he hath hid himself among these trees (II, i, 30)


Shakespeare and his contemporaries had one extra pronoun "thou" which could be used in addressing a person who was one's equal or social inferior. 'You' was obligatory if more than one person was addressed:

What ho! You men, you beasts! That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins... (I, i, 81ff)

But it could also be used to indicate respect as when Juliet speaks to her mother:

Madam, I am here, what is your will? (I, iii, 6)
Frequently, a person in power used 'thou' to a child or a subordinate but was addressed 'you' in return, as when Lady Capulet and the Nurse speak:

Lady Capulet. Thou knowest my daughter's of a pretty age. (I, iii, 10)

Nurse. My lord and you were then at Mantua. (I, iii, 28)
but if 'thou' was used inappropriately it could cause grave offense. Tybalt uses this form to provoke Romeo: Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain (III, i, 59-60)

and later, when Romeo wishes to avenge Mercutio's death, he too uses 'thou' to Tybalt: Now, Tybalt, take the 'villain' back again That late thou gav'st me. (III, i, 127-28)

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

<- Previous | First | Next ->

  Web Search Our Message Boards   

All Contents Copyright © 1997-2004
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 9:51:59 AM