Fri 15 Aug, 2014 12:30 pm
In the Bible, Luke 4:36, we can read "He commandeth the unclean spirits",
what is the tense of the verb 'command' in this sentence?
What is the origine of this ancient form 'commandeth'?
It is the present, third person singular indicative. Roughly 270 or 280 years ago, the verb form was changed from "-eth" to "-s" for all present, third person singular indicative forms. Actually, these forms were used in the King James Bible, even though they were changing among the educated people of England. The King James Bible was deliberately rendered in 16th century English, because the common people tended to adopt new language forms quite a while after those who had had a formal education. That bible was intended to be read aloud to common people, so the translation commission rendered it in a form they would understand. Even by the early 17th century, educated people had stopped using the second person singular, and had begun to use "-s" as a suffix for third person singular present idicative conjugations. So, a commoner might say: Thou dost wrong when thou goest to thy meat (i.e. sit down to a meal) without thanking the Lord. A well-educated person would say: You do wrong to to to your meat withoug thanking the Lord. A commoner would say He thinketh ill of me. A well educated person would say He thinks ill of me.
By the late 17th century, these verb forms has all but disappeared, although in some cases in relatively isolated parts of England, these forms, and the use of the second person singular, continued in use even as late as the latter part of the 19th century.