"You" (stressed /IPA|jü/; unstressed [IPA|jə] ) is the second-person
personal pronounin Modern English. "Ye" was the original nominativeform; the oblique/objective form is "you" (functioning originally as both accusativeand dative), and the possessive is "your" or "yours".
In standard English, "you" is both singular and plural; it always takes a
verbform that originally marked the word as plural, such as "you are". This was not always so. Early Modern English distinguished between the plural "you" and the singular " thou". This distinction was lost in modern English due to the importation from France of a Romance linguistic feature which is commonly called the T-V distinction. This distinction made the plural forms more respectful and deferential; they were used to address strangers and social superiors. This distinction ultimately led to familiar "thou" becoming obsolete in standard English (and Dutch), although this did not happen in other languages such as French. Ironically, because "thou" is now seen primarily in literary sources such as King James Bible (often directed to God, who is traditionally addressed in the familiar) or Shakespeare(often in dramatic dialogs, e.g. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"), many modern anglophones erroneously perceive it as more "formal", rather than familiar (case in point: in "", Darth Vaderaddresses the Emperor saying, "What is thy bidding, my master?").
Because "you" is both singular and plural, various English
dialects have attempted to revive the distinction between a singular and plural "you" to avoid confusion between the two uses. This is typically done by adding a new plural form; examples of new plurals sometimes seen and heard are " y'all", or "you-all" (primarily in the southern United Statesand African American Vernacular English), "you guys" (in the U.S., particularly in Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast, and in Australia), "you lot" (in the UK), "youse guys" (New York City region, Philadelphia, Michigan's Upper Peninsula; also spelt without the E), and "you-uns"/" yinz" (Western Pennsylvania, The Appalachians). English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English, sometimes uses the word "ye" as the plural form, or "yous" (also used in Australia, however not the form "ye"). Although these plurals are useful in daily speech, they are generally not found in Standard English. Among them, "you guys" is considered most neutral in the U.S. [cite journal
last = Jochnowitz
first = George
year = 1983
title = Another View of You Guys
journal = American Speech
volume = 58
issue = 1
pages = 68–70
doi = 10.2307/454759
accessdate = 2007-03-30 ] It is the most common plural form of "you" in the U.S. except in the dialects with "y'all", and has been used even in the
White House. [cite news
last = Rios
first = Delia M
title = 'You-guys': It riles Miss Manners and other purists, but for most it adds color to language landscape
The Seattle Times
date = 2004-06-01
url = http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=youguys01&date=20040601
accessdate = 2007-03-30 ]
"You" is also unusual in that, being both singular and plural, it has two reflexive forms, "yourself" and "yourselves." However, in recent years singular "themself" is sometimes seen: see "
"You" is derived from Old English "ge" or "unicode|ȝe" (both pronounced roughly like
Modern English"yea"), which was the old nominative case form of the pronoun, and "eow", which was the old accusative caseform of the pronoun. In Middle Englishthe nominative case became "ye", and the oblique case (formed by the merger of the accusative case and the former dative case) was "you". In early Modern Englisheither the nominative or the accusative forms have been generalized in most dialects. Most generalized "you"; some dialects in the north of Englandand Scotlandgeneralized "ye", or use "ye" as a clipped or cliticform of the pronoun.
"Ye" and "you" are
cognatewith Dutch "jij" and "jou", German "ihr", Gothic "jus" and Old Norse"ér". (Modern Icelandic þér is a variant form due to alteration of phrases like "háfiþ ér" (you have) into "háfi þér" etc.) The specific form of this pronoun is unique to the Germanic languages, but the Germanic forms ultimately do relate to the general Indo-European forms represented by Latin"vos".
Note that in the early days of the
printing press, the letter " y" was used in place of the thorn ("þ"), so many modern instances of "ye" (such as in "Ye Olde Shoppe") are in fact examples of " the" and not of "you". It also possibly indirectly helped to contribute to the displacement of "thou" by "you", and the use of "you" in the nominative case.
Plural forms in other Indo-European languages
Similar to English, "u" in Dutch is taken as a polite form for both plural and singular, while "jij" (singular) and "jullie" (plural) are considered informal. (Dutch lost its original "thou" form, "du", just like English did; the forms "U", "jij", and "jullie" are more analogous to English "you", "ye", and "y'all" respectively). French has kept the system intact. "Vous" is still used as formal and plural, while "tu" is used for informal singular. Russian uses this system also: "vy" (вы) is formal/plural and "ty" (ты) is informal singular. In the
Persian Languagethe same system is used: IPA|ʃomɒ is formal/plural and IPA|to is the informal singular. In modern Swedish though, the term "ni" (plural for you) is rarely used to address a single person, not even in formal circumstances. The term used is "du" (you, singular).
While English, Dutch, French and Russian use or have used the plural forms as the polite forms, other European languages use forms deriving from the third person. German, for example, uses the third person plural pronoun "sie", capitalized "Sie", as its formal pronoun (in other words, "Sie" is grammatically identical to "They"). Danish and Norwegian languages similarly have "De"; however, this usage is generally outdated and replaced with the familiar form. [cite web
last = Mills
first = Carl
title = In the Social Register: Pronoun Choice in Norwegian and English
accessdate = 2008-03-15 ] Italian has separate forms for singular ("Lei") and plural ("Loro"), which are derived from the Italian words for "she" and "they" respectively; a partial similarity to the German system (especially since the German word for "she" is also "sie", but conjugates differently from "Sie"). However, sometimes the French system is also used in Italy, using the plural pronoun "voi" as singular.
Spanish and Portuguese use pronouns derived from third person phrases which originally meant "your mercy", "sir" or "madam", along with their plural forms. For Spanish, they are "usted" (pl. "ustedes"), and for Portuguese, "você" (pl. "vocês"), "o senhor" (pl. "os senhores") and "a senhora" (pl. "as senhoras"). "Você" is often employed informally in Brazil, though the original singular pronoun "tu" is more commonly used in the South, the Northeast and some rural regions (this may be due to foreign influence in some locations), but "o senhor", "a senhora" and their plurals are still used and always formal. In some Spanish speaking areas (especially in Latin America), the original second person singular pronoun "tú" has been dropped entirely, thus erasing the distinction between formal and informal address. In others, it was replaced with an old form of the second person plural pronoun, "vos", now used as an informal counterpart to "usted". See
voseo. Modified versions of "vos", "vosotros" and "vosotras", are still used in Spain as informal second person plural pronouns, while the singular is still "tú", used informally. Portuguese has moved farther away from the original paradigm; the plural pronoun "vós" has disappeared in Braziland is no longer used in ordinary speech in Portugal.
English personal pronouns
*"You", (i.e the ordinary member of the public) were awarded the
Person of the Yearaward for 2006 by the United States (U.S.) newsmagazine "Time".
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