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  1. #1
    lundc is offline Newbie
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    Question God bless you. Why not blesses?

    You hear it all the time from the politicians: "God bless America." Or when someone sneezes: "God bless you." As the subject of a complete sentence, isn't "God" considered third person, singular (e.g., he, she, it)? If so, would it be more proper to say, "God blesses you" or "He blesses you".

    Or is it used in the context of a command or request, as in, "God, please bless America!"

    This has bothered me for so long, despite having lived in the States for decades.

  2. #2
    Joe Wen is offline Newbie
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    Wink Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    In my opinion, the God is infinite and almighty;therefore,he is always thought to be a giant and is different from us.

  3. #3
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Quote Originally Posted by lundc View Post
    You hear it all the time from the politicians: "God bless America." Or when someone sneezes: "God bless you." As the subject of a complete sentence, isn't "God" considered third person, singular (e.g., he, she, it)? If so, would it be more proper to say, "God blesses you" or "He blesses you".

    Or is it used in the context of a command or request, as in, "God, please bless America!"

    This has bothered me for so long, despite having lived in the States for decades.
    That's because you don't state facts in such sentences. You don't want to say, "God blesses you." You want to express a wish. So you don't use the indicative mood. You use the third person subjunctive/imperative.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 25-Aug-2010 at 13:20.

  4. #4
    Tullia's Avatar
    Tullia is offline Senior Member
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Quote Originally Posted by lundc View Post
    You hear it all the time from the politicians: "God bless America." Or when someone sneezes: "God bless you." As the subject of a complete sentence, isn't "God" considered third person, singular (e.g., he, she, it)? If so, would it be more proper to say, "God blesses you" or "He blesses you".

    Or is it used in the context of a command or request, as in, "God, please bless America!"

    This has bothered me for so long, despite having lived in the States for decades.
    It's the latter. It's a request ("God please bless") or wish ("May God bless"). I wouldn't call it an imperative - ordering God around is probably a bad idea ;)

  5. #5
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    There is an essential difference between "God, please bless America" and "God bless you" in my opinion. These sentences have different addressees. The first sentence is said to God, the other one is said to the person who is to be blessed by God.

    As for the imperative/subjunctive thing, I think it's not easy. I always see people giving "God bless you" as an example of the subjunctive. The problem is that I translate it to the imperative mood in Polish. Not an order though. It's the third person imperative which is actually about expressing wishes.

    This link has some interesting thoughts about the third person imperative in English. The most relevant part is on page 10.

    According to them, "Don't he move! ("Don't God bless America!") is an arguably acceptable third-person imperative sentence while, "He move!" ("God bless America!") is not acceptable. Which would perhaps mean that "God bless America" must be subjunctive.

    I don't think such analyses are important at all but they're interesting!
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 25-Aug-2010 at 16:22. Reason: some mistakes

  6. #6
    Tullia's Avatar
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Very interesting birdeen :)

    What about when the President is speaking to the nation, and ends with the phrase "God bless America"? One could argue that either that is a request to God (Please God) or an address to America (May God).

    I'd probably incline to the view that most of the time, it's "May God" or "Let God" and it's expressing a wish, rather than a direct appeal (or a true command) to God - mostly on grounds of punctuation, I think. Were it a direct appeal I would expect to at least sometimes see a comma "God, bless America" or hear a slight pause when it was spoken.

    I think the same applies to "God bless you".
    Last edited by Tullia; 25-Aug-2010 at 18:29.

  7. #7
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    ***Neither a teacher nor a native speaker.***

    As some others have already mentioned it:
    It's the imperative, not a statement.
    In order to avoid confusion, I always use a comma and an exclamation point.
    God, bless America!

    However, it's not mandatory...
    (It's your choice whether you want to say it that way or not.)

    Cheers!

  8. #8
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    God, bless America!
    God bless America!

    They are different. In the first one, it is directly addressed to God. But in the second one, there is a wish.

    .

  9. #9
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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Oh, I see.
    So it's more logical to use sentence #2 since we can't talk to god (yet)

    Cheers!

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    Re: God bless you. Why not blesses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Oh, I see.
    So it's more logical to use sentence #2 since we can't talk to god (yet)
    Case 1;
    The chief of police
    The criminal
    You the mayor

    You say : The chief of police, stop this criminal! (You order the chief of police to find and arrest the criminal)

    Case 2;
    The chief of police
    The criminal
    You the citizen

    You say : The chief of police stop this criminal! (You're reading the story about the criminal and the chief of police's relevant statements on a newspaper, and thinking to yourself that it's about time that the chief of police stopped this criminal otherwise the mayor put someone more capable in charge.)

    Notice that it's "put" not "puts".

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