Talk:Grammatical person

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Ye, thee, and you[edit]

Because I am not an expert I will raise the issue but defer to another to actually make the change. I believe that the correct archaic 2nd person singular (aka second person informal) is "thee". "You", on the other hand, is the archaic 2nd person plural which has become the modern catch-all.

Unrelated to the first, but still important for credibility: The apparent "y" in "ye" is an artifact of the printing/lettering practice of the day and that the proper spelling was then, as now, "t-h-ee". Based on the citations below I feel it is appropriate to change the spelling on the main page. (Though technically wikipedia does support the thorn character ("þ"), which created this whole mess in the first place, if anyone is feeling adventurous and wants to restore ye to its proper glory.)

Thee=2nd person singular/intimate:


-- 08:59, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

That's correct, but it's already mentioned in the current article, and in the article on Thou ("thee" is the objective form, and "thou" was the subjective form of the pronoun). FilipeS 16:44, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
I think thou should be removed from the table, because as it stands I immediately wonder "why isn't it marked informal"? But that is just my european bias. Then I wonder why "ye" isn't there too, since archaic "you" was "ye" in the nominative, and then I realize what a can of worms this opesn up right there in the table before any coverage could clarify. — robbiemuffin page talk 00:35, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
"Thee" is technically the equivalent of the "informal you" in other languages. However, it is archaic in English and no native English-speaker would think of using it informally, and to label it as informal would just be confusing to the native. Yes, I know English is the oddball language in this respect. (talk) 05:31, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Third Person

Alright, I see that these subjects have been brought up a few times, but little has been done about them, so I'd like to bring them up again: They and one. They is indeed sometimes used as third person singular, but this is not widely accepted as proper, so I think that difference should be noted. "One" is recommended. No English user tells you to use "it" or "they" when referring to a person in 3rd singular. I don't know how specifically the chart should include this information (would one be its own thing or share a space with it, for instance?) but it definitely should. (talk) 20:34, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Is 'one' correct?[edit]

he, she, one or it is (third-person singular)

'One' is archaically used to refer to one's self, and so surely is first person? Have I got this wrong? Or am i right and the article is wrong? Saccerzd 17:00, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Haha, Ransom notes...that's rich.

Yes, it is indeed. :-) Shinobu 16:29, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Lol! Good one. Pretty good example too. But seriously, I don't think "shopping list" is a very good example of First Future. A shopping list is usually just the actual list of items, implicitly saying "I will buy" (first future) but usually not explicit. I can't really think of a common type of document which does explicitly use "I will". —EatMyShortz 15:15, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
  • How about New Years' Resolutions, as an example of first person future tense? (e.g. "I will lose 10 pounds this year") --Gothhenge 20:27, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
    • Yes! Good idea! (Do you want to put it up?) —EatMyShortz 13:37, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

This should be the default page[edit]

... not the dance troupe.

changed several things in the videogame section; question about second-person[edit]

Overall, the videogames section was heavily biased towards shooters: in fact, nearly all games not played from the first person perspective, from platformers to sports games to fighting games, have a third-person camera perspective, not just "adventure games like Reisdent Evil." I thus removed the example reference to Resident Evil, since it is no more third-person than the other dozens of thousands of games out there. Along these same lines, in games featuring firearms the switch to first-person perspective is indeed often to improve weapon accuracy - but again, this is biased towards shooting games and ignores platformers and other action-adventure games, where the first-person perspective can improve spatial awareness (indeed, the same thing that was said about noticing the player's location in a generally FPS, and so I combined them).

Also, I wanted to ask about the second-person in movies and videogames. I'd tend to disagree that second-person is simply the first-person of the antagonist. In literature, if the novel is suddenly written from the first-person perspective of the bad guy, woudl you say it is written in second-person? My guess is that you would not. Second-person is when the reader is treated as a character by the use of words like "you." Thus, isn't what we call "first-person" in movies and videogames actually second-person? Perhaps the answer is because, for instance, the space marine in Doom does not actually refer to the player as "you." So would a game like Black and White, where the cursor you move on the screen is supposed to be the player's actual hand, or those dating sims from Japan, where you actually play as yourself, qualify as second-person? I'm just wondering here, I'm sure there's some explanation, so please enlighten me :P.

Why is the detail on video games in here anyway? This is grammatical person. I suggest that those details be moved to another article or created in their own. It does kinda--you know--takes out the professionalism of the article. Someone needing help for their English paper comes here and sees video games. Yeah... Colonel Marksman 21:28, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Moved. FilipeS 23:45, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

  • My fault, a couple of years back there were a lot of links to this article from games regarding third-person, first-person, etc. etc. so it wound up appearing here. Sockatume 00:41, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

I smell a little bit of US-centricism[edit]

Why include Y'all, which is almost exclusively used in the southern US(as far as I know), and not include Youse which has a far more widespread (although possibly not as common) usage? Can anyone shed some light on this? I decided not to add "youse" without saying this first, because I thought it would probably get deleted without much though given to it. Meh. Elkrobber 22:06, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

There is a more specific artice with more information, English personal pronouns. FilipeS 22:15, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Is "Youse" used outside of the US? I thought it was specific to the New England area. (talk) 20:19, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Definitely US-centric. To add the Australian perspective to the colloquial discussion: we use "you guys" most often or perhaps (usually if you come from a lower socio-economic background) "youse" for 2nd person plural both of which are gender neutral. But strictly speaking just as any other English they are not grammatically correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:35, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm no linguist, but I've noticed in British novels that people say "you lot" under the same colloquial circumstances that American southerners say "you all". Shouldn't that be in the table? (talk) 21:06, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

When all is said and done, they are all forms of "you", i.e., referring to the listener, so get over it. Ekcrbe (talk) 12:21, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Short, not enough[edit]

This article is almost (basically is) a stub. The meaty information on this pages barely covers the bones. Someone agree it needs expanding? Colonel Marksman 21:29, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

second/first what is it called when the speaker is also the addressee?

Hungarian and other languages[edit]

I know Hungarian has a sexless 3rd person pronoun. It would be interesting to explore more deeply pronouns in other languages. 18:24, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I've added some links to the article. FilipeS 19:30, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
'They' (and equivalently 'their') is starting to be used as an gender-indeterminate 3rd person, in a similar way that the amsculaine used to be used to encompass the feminine.
Eg. I don't know who left the gifts, but I am most gratefull to them.
Does this want mentioning? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brondahl (talkcontribs) 00:41, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, many people say they and them as gender-free third-person singulars, but are still grammatically incorrect. They and them can only refer to a group. Ekcrbe (talk) 12:24, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Personal pronouns in the objective case?[edit]

This article ignores "me," "us," "them," etc. I'm not sure these apply to the article, as the subject usually determines the grammatical person; however, the indication that "all other pronouns" indicate "third person" is incorrect. Thoughts? (talk) 21:08, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

You're right. I've rephrased the article a bit. See what you think of it now. FilipeS (talk) 21:21, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Better factual presentation. Thanks, FilipeS. I'm still not sure how to describe a sentence like "He licked me" or "He licked my nose" (both first person), though. (talk) 01:29, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Gender-Neutral Third Person Singular[edit]

I don't believe that 'They' is properly used as gender-neutral third person singular. The proper gender-neutral third person singular is 'He' or the awkward 'He or She' that political correctness has thrust upon us. 'They' is widely used as a gender-neutral third person singular, but is improper.Capt3 (talk) 17:49, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

What is improper about it? This usage has always sounded natural to me, and far less clumsy than "he/she". (talk) 00:54, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Simply, 'They' is plural. It is improper to use 'They' in the singular. I know it is commonly done in speech, but it is a mistake that was simply not tolerated in an formal composition in college, starting with Comp 101. 'He' is both masculine third person singular, and gender-neutral third person singular.Capt3 (talk) 00:27, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
True, "They" is plural, not singular. It means 2 or more. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:11, 22 May 2009 (UTC)
You are correct Capt3, it is not used properly in everyday speech; but improper grammar is preferable to hearing "he or she" over and over and over. Webjedi (talk) 06:14, 11 September 2009 (UTC)


Seriously, why is that section included in this article? Similar to what someone said further up, except i think it shouldn't be in here at all. Maybe in another article, but not in a page about english grammar. Seen as it's not english and is terrible grammar, it just doesn't belong here. That's my thoughts. (talk) 13:52, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Ojibwe, Tlingit, Null Person, 0th Person, Zeroth Person[edit]

The Ojibwe grammar article's sections on Person and Transitives mention "0th" or "zeroth" person, and "null" person.

The Tlingit language article's section on Pronominals also mentions a "0th" or "zeroth" person.

Does anyone know whether this information is supported by two or more primary and two or more secondary verifiable reliable third-party published sources compatible with Wikipedia's guidelines?

Does anyone know whether these terms are also used by any group of professional linguists in analyzing any other languages as well as Ojibwe and Tlingit?

--Eldin raigmore (talk) 18:38, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

For Ojibwe, this is what Dr. Dohn D. Nichols says in the grammar notes in Kegg, Maude (1990). Nookomis Gaa-inaajimotawid: What My Grandmother Told Me. Oshkaabewis Native Journal (Bemidji, MN:Indian Studies Publications), pp.143-144:
0 inanimate singular // 0p inanimate plural // 0(p) inanimate singular or plural // 0’ inanimate obviative singular // 0’p inanimate obviative plural // 0’(p) inanimate obviative singular or plural // 1 first person singular // 1p first person plural exclusive (excluding the second person) // 2 second person singular // 21 first person plural inclusinve (including the second person) // 2p second person singular // 3 animate third person singular // 3p animate third person plural // 3’ animate obviative || X indefinite actor.
Nichols, however, does not cite 3’p but includes 0(p) and 0’(p). CJLippert (talk) 20:12, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

According to recent emails from Dr. Laura Welcher, Prof. Rand Valentine, and Prof. Anna Siewerska, the terms 0th person and zeroth person are not used in linguistics. However the notations 0 and X are indeed used as User:CJLippert just described above; but apparently they are notations, not terms. The terms may have currency as points-of-view or perspectives in narratives, games, etc.; but apparently not in linguistics. --Eldin raigmore (talk) 18:34, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

In addition to Ojibwe, Cree, Mi'kmaq and Passamaquoddy (all a member of Algonquian languages) use the same set of notations in analyses. CJLippert (talk) 21:22, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Other terminology in other languages[edit]

I've heard (sorry, I can't give the reference) that Arabic grammarians prefer to list the "persons" in reverse order of what English speakers are used to: first he/she/it, then you, then I. So is the definition of "first-person", "second-person" confined to Indo-European? How does Japanese, who does not conjugate a verb for "person" but which has numerous personal pronouns, classify "persons"? I think the article needs more information on foreign languages. (talk) 05:31, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

4th person speaking needs elaboration[edit]

"The grammars of some languages divide the semantic space into more than three persons. The extra categories may be termed fourth person, fifth person, etc. Such terms are not absolute but can refer depending on context to any of several phenomena." I'm not getting anything out of reading just that. We need examples! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:07, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

yall is SLANG(IM YELLING!)[edit]

Keep yelling. Use as a word defines what is a word. English dictionaries didn't exist in 1700 - were there no words then? Furthermore, look up the word "word". "A speech sound or series of speech sounds produced to convey meaning.". "Hey Y'all" - sound produced. Meaning conveyed. Word, y'all. (talk) 12:42, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Object pronouns[edit]

The article would benefit greatly by the inclusion in the table of object pronouns. Right now it only contemplates subject pronouns. (talk) 12:44, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person[edit]

I think it would be a good idea if the article defined what these are. You kind of have to guess as things now stand. (talk) 09:35, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Miscellaneous remarks[edit]

I changed the heading "colloquial" to "dialect" which should be uncontroversial (except maybe "dialectal"). But some may not recognize the use of the nominal form thee [sic] by some Quakers. See Thou. I have a couple more suggestions, which I didn't want to make by being more work for me, about a trivial issue, and just might get reverted for all that. I suggest that the forms cited be in lower case (except for, obviously I) in order to mark the singular use of upper case for I. But is that being pedantic? I also suggest listing the various 2nd person dialect forms alphabetically, but is that is being pedantic? TomS TDotO (talk) 11:38, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

One more form, the use of me as a nominal form. There are, I believe, some dialects which use me, as well as the colloquial it's me. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:46, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

More categories[edit]

A note for expansion. I might do this, or someone else can.

This Quora answer (by Trwier, I believe) discusses languages that distinguish various combinations of speaker (1), hearer (2), and other (3):

single group
1 + 2
1 + 2 + 3
1 1 + 2
2 2 + 3
3 3 + 3

English has one word "we" for [1 + 2], [1 + 2 + 3], and [1 + 3], while other languages distinguish between [1 + 2] or [1 + 2 + 3] and [1 + 3] (the inclusive-exclusive distinction), but a few languages, like Maranao, apparently have a separate word for all three.

The Quora answer gives a source that can be used to expand this article. — Eru·tuon 04:28, 27 February 2016 (UTC)