Word Confusion: Ewe vs Yew vs You

Posted April 30, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 26 August 2017

I ran into a Word Confusion of yew versus you, and I suspect the problem was that the author meant ye…and that the spell-check decided ye was incomplete and grew it a bit. Oh, well.

Then I read a story that involved sheep, and I was struck by the similar pronunciation, so ewe got thrown in. So next time ewe get in too deep, pull the dang sheep out of the muck. Use a yew branch if you must…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Ewe Yew You
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: you

Ewe with her lamb at the top of a green hill

“Ewe and Lamb on Okeford Hill” by Marilyn Peddle, North Dorset, England, (flickr.com) is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Ancient yews form arch over nature trail

“Yew Woods, Kingley Vale” by Jim Champion is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s light and shade within the yew woods of Kingley Vale covers a trail that leads through the older yews, up through the younger yews on the hillside up to the barrows on Bow Hill.

A multitude of sunbathers at the beach

“El Canelo Algarrobo” is Jorge Barrios’ own work in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Look at you all on the beach at El Canelo and El Canelillo in Algarrobo, San Antonio Province, Chile.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 2; Noun 1; Proper noun 2 Noun

Also yew tree

Noun; Pronoun, second person singular or plural
Relating to the Ewe or their language

Adult female sheep 1

Proper noun:
A member of a people of Ghana, Togo, and Benin

The Kwa language of the Ewe 2

The Latin name is Taxus baccata

A coniferous tree that has red berrylike fruits, and most parts of which are highly poisonous

Something or someone closely identified with or resembling the person addressed

  • [Informal] Nature or character of the person addressed

A person or thing that the speaker cannot or does not want to specify

Refers to the person or people whom the speaker is addressing

  • Refers to the person being addressed together with other people regarded in the same class
  • Refers to an unspecified person or people in general
  • Used in exclamations to address one or more people

Refers to any person in general

[Archaic; Dialect] Thou (its plural form is ye and is the singular subject of a verb)

[Archaic; Dialect] Thee (functions as the singular object of a verb or preposition)

[Dialectical] Yourself, yourselves

Ewe kente cloth is achieving a reputation.

A well-managed yearling ewe will produce more lambs per pound than a two-year-old ewe.

Keep stress to a minimum for a nursing ewe.

Proper noun:
Although fishing is one of the Ewes’ primary industries, it has became more of a seasonal occupation.

Drumming is the principal instrument for the Ewe.

In S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse science fiction/apocalyptic series, yew is highly prized for making bows.

The ability of yews to regenerate from almost nothing has given it a reputation for resurrection. It’s probably why yews were popular around churchyards!

Yew trees can grow to an immense size and an incredible age, up to 5,000 years or more.

The timber is used in cabinetmaking.

Try to discover the hidden you.

That red shirt just isn’t you.

It was like seeing another you.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!

Are you listening?

I hate you.

You know better, the culprit is among you.

All you Americans are alike.

Hey, you!

You know what they say, you can’t take it with you.

Hey buddy, you name it, just name it.

You know something. Spill it.

After a while, you get used to it.

We beseech thee, O Lord

O’, thou great and wondrous spirit…

Oh, he acts all holier-than-thou.

You should get you a wife.

History of the Word:
1 Old English eowu is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch ooi and the German Aue.

2 Their name in Ewe.

Old English īw and ēow are of Germanic origin. Old English ēow is both accusative and dative of and is related to Dutch u and German euch. During the 14th century you began to replace ye, thou, and thee.

By the 17th century, it had become the ordinary second person pronoun for any number and case.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Graveyard Yew Tree at South-east at Church of St Mary, High Easter, Essex, England, is Acabashi’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, Marine Parade Garden, Napier is QFSE Media‘s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 nz license, and Romney Ewe with Triplet Lambs in New Zealand by Pam (Flickr: Triplet lambs) is under the CC BY 2.0 license. All three are via Wikimedia Commons.