"You" (stressed /IPA|jü/; unstressed [IPA|jə] ) is the second-person
personal pronoun in Modern English. "Ye" was the original nominative form; the oblique/objective form is "you" (functioning originally as both accusative and dative), and the possessive is "your" or "yours".


In standard English, "you" is both singular and plural; it always takes a verb form 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 Vader addresses 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 States and 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
publisher = The Seattle Times
date = 2004-06-01
url =
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 "singular they".


"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 case form of the pronoun. In Middle English the 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 English either the nominative or the accusative forms have been generalized in most dialects. Most generalized "you"; some dialects in the north of England and Scotland generalized "ye", or use "ye" as a clipped or clitic form of the pronoun.

"Ye" and "you" are cognate with 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 Language the 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 Brazil and is no longer used in ordinary speech in Portugal.


ee also

*English personal pronouns
*Generic you

*"You", (i.e the ordinary member of the public) were awarded the Person of the Year award for 2006 by the United States (U.S.) newsmagazine "Time".

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • you — [ weak jə, weak ju, strong ju ] function word *** You can be used in the following ways: as a subject or object pronoun: What do you want? I like you. I ll make the tea for you. as a determiner: You children had better go to bed now. 1. ) used… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • You — ([=u]), pron. [Possess. {Your} ([=u]r) or {Yours} ([=u]rz); dat. & obj. {You}.] [OE. you, eou, eow, dat. & acc., AS. e[ o]w, used as dat. & acc. of ge, g[=e], ye; akin to OFries. iu, io, D. u, G. euch, OHG. iu, dat., iuwih, acc., Icel. y[eth]r,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • You — ([=u]), pron. [Possess. {Your} ([=u]r) or {Yours} ([=u]rz); dat. & obj. {You}.] [OE. you, eou, eow, dat. & acc., AS. e[ o]w, used as dat. & acc. of ge, g[=e], ye; akin to OFries. iu, io, D. u, G. euch, OHG. iu, dat., iuwih, acc., Icel. y[eth]r,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • You FM — Allgemeine Informationen Empfang analog terrestrisch, Kabel, Satellit Webradio …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • YOU — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda «YOU» Sencillo de Ayumi Hamasaki del álbum A Song for XX Publicación 10 de junio, 1998 Formato CD …   Wikipedia Español

  • you — W1S1 [jə, ju strong ju:] pron [used as subject or object] [: Old English; Origin: eow, from ge; YE1] 1.) used to refer to a person or group of people when speaking or writing to them ▪ Hi, Kelly. How are you? ▪ You must all listen carefully. ▪ I… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • You — steht für: den Kreis You (chin. 攸县; Pinyin: Yōu Xiàn) der bezirksfreien Stadt Zhuzhou in der chinesischen Provinz Hunan, siehe You (Zhuzhou) Du (Personalpronomen), als deutsche Übersetzung des englischen You YOU steht für: YOU (Jugendmesse), die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • YOU! — ist ein in Österreich erscheinendes katholisches Jugendmagazin. Es wird seit 1993 sechsmal im Jahr herausgegeben. Das Blatt wird in Österreich, Deutschland und der Schweiz ausschließlich über Abonnement bzw. über Zeitschriftenstände in Pfarren… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • you're on — you’re on spoken phrase used for saying ‘yes’ when someone has invited you to compete or do something difficult or dangerous ‘I bet I can sell more tickets than you.’ ‘OK, you’re on.’ Thesaurus: ways of saying yessynonym Main entry: on * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • You Am I — Pays d’origine  Australie Genre musical Rock alternatif Années d activité 1989 présent Labels …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”