View Full Version : Believe You Me?
07-23-2001, 09:14 AM
I have never understood this particular phrasing. However, people occasionally use it in both oral and written communication. An example would be: "If they don't stop it, I am going to take action believe you me!". Why would anyone use this phrasing and what is it supposed to mean?
07-23-2001, 10:06 AM
I see it as an emphasised version of "Believe me!" -- adding a harder edge to make it closer to a threat -- "You can be sure I'll do what I'm saying I'll do."
Spectre of Pithecanthropus
07-23-2001, 10:24 AM
It's an old emphatic construction, whose use I think was more widespread up through the time of Shakespeare. J.R.R. Tolkien uses similar constructions in Lord Of The Rings, as when Denethor tells Pippin something like the following: "Go to the quartermaster and get you there the livery of the Tower". Though in this case, now that I think about it, the "You" could be a reflexive, meaning "yourself".
07-23-2001, 11:27 PM
You is the implied subject of any imperative sentence. Including it isn't wrong, but it sounds funny. Run [you] along now.
07-24-2001, 07:06 AM
One of my favourite quotes from Hamlet by William Shakespeare:
I have of late- but wherefore I know not- lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me- no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
(Which contains a similar structure).
07-24-2001, 10:39 AM
bibliophage, wouldn't the proper construction be "[You] Run along now"? Imperative command and all. Which seems to be Shagnasty's question - why that word order? Not "You believe me" or "Believe me, you", but "Believe you me".
Sounds like Yoda-speak to me. "Jedi you will be, believe you me."
So, someone who knows English language history want to comment?
07-24-2001, 01:37 PM
I have no link to back this up, but I've always considered "believe you me" to be evidence of the Germanic roots of the English language.
As an aside, "believe you me" is one of my favourite expressions, and one that I utter quite frequently. Believe you me.
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