Sunday, October 20, 2019

Methinks vs. I Think

Methinks vs. I Think Methinks vs. I Think Methinks vs. I Think By Maeve Maddox An archaic verb form that survives in modern speech, thanks to its presence in a well-known quotation from Hamlet, is methinks. A Google search for â€Å"methinks† brings up more than five million hits. The quotation appears in the â€Å"mousetrap scene† in Hamlet. Traveling actors are performing a play written to Hamlet’s specifications. He wants to dramatize his father’s murder and produce a guilty reaction in his stepfather. The Player Queen gives a highly charged speech about her feelings for her husband, swearing that, should he die, she will never remarry. Hamlet asks his mother, â€Å"How do you like the play?† Uncomfortable with the speech because of her own remarriage, Hamlet’s mother replies, â€Å"The lady protests too much, methinks.† Modern speakers frequently misquote the line as, â€Å"Methinks the lady doth protest too much† and seem to believe it means something like, â€Å"I think the person is trying to hide something by denying it so strongly.† Methinks is not the equivalent of â€Å"I think.† The thinks in methinks comes from the Old English verb thyncan: â€Å"to seem† or â€Å"to appear.† The think in â€Å"I think I’ll drive to Tulsa this weekend† comes from Old English thencan: â€Å"to think.† Methinks means â€Å"It seems to me.† Originally, it was spelled as two words. The me is an indirect object: â€Å"It seems to me.† Now it is spelled as one word, although some modern speakers, imagining that it means, â€Å"I think† spell it as two words. Note: Using methinks as if it meant, â€Å"I think† equates to such baby talk as â€Å"Me wants a cookie.† The past tense of methinks is methought: Methought I heard a voice cry, â€Å"Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep.† –Macbeth, Act II, scene ii. Another misunderstood word in the Hamlet quotation is protest. Modern speakers interpret it to mean, â€Å"to object,† but Gertrude means it in the sense of â€Å"to promise.† She thinks the Player Queen is overdoing her promise never to remarry should her husband die: Player Queen: Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife, If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife! Paraphrase: May nothing but trouble hound my steps for the rest of my life if I ever remarry after my husband’s death. Here are a few examples of how methinks is being used on the Web: Me thinks I have the perfect frame for it. Me thinks  Im in need of some serious psychiatric help. Me thinks  you drank a wee bit too much one night. Methinks  Jay Leno Is a Closet Conservative/Libertarian. Methinks ESPN’s Chris Broussard WANTS to get fired. Because so many speakers are already confused about the proper way to use the pronouns me and I, it may be a good idea to retire the use of methinks–at least at the beginning of a sentence. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Keep learning! Browse the Misused Words category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:10 Grammar Mistakes You Should AvoidWriting the Century10 Humorous, Derisive, or Slang Synonyms for â€Å"Leader† or â€Å"Official†

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