Profiteth or profits?
[ 2007-04-03 13:55 ]

Ccmmzz asks:
What is the difference between "profiteth" and "profit"?

My comments:
No difference other than that "profiteth" is the third person singular verb form of "profit".

The suffixes of "-eth" (he goeth) and "-th" (he doth) are old English and Biblical, often found in writings connected with the Christian Bible.

For example, in the New Testament, the Corinthians in fact, you'll read these famous lines:

  • Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
  • And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
  • And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing....
  • And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Both suffixes, however, have outlived their usefulness in everyday English. In other words, it profiteth you little or nothing at all to say "there it goeth", unless of course the situation calls for it, i.e. you want to sound preachy.

This headline for example, from a story seen online attacking recent books cashing in on religion, doesn't sound out of tune: What profiteth a bookseller?

Otherwise, steer clear of "profiteth". Because, you see, what profits thee will do nicely.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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