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January 12, 2017

A couple of days ago I was watching Rick Stein (whom I really like) on telly. He was doing a culinary tour of Bologna, and at one point he made a sort of humorous apostrophe to spaghetti bolognese, which began “Whether thou cometh from Bologna or Manchester…”

Hold it right there, Rick. Cometh? I don’t think so. Adding -eth to the ends of verbs is a favourite device of those who want to sound old-fashioned or Shakespearean, but it’s more often than not used incorrectly, as in this case. The suffix -eth was only ever used for the third person singular. The suffix for the second person singular was -est. So Stein should have said “Whether thou comest from Bologna or Manchester…”

I know this doesn’t matter much, but it matters to me.

By the way, please help to crowdfund my YA novel The Infinite Powers of Adam Gowers – here is the link:

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    Can anything else cometh except the hour and The Ice Man?

  2. I can’t think of anything else. I know that the old order changeth.

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    And as they said in Still Game – He who hingeth about getteth hee haw.

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