In Modern English, you is the second-person pronoun. It is grammatically plural, and was historically used only for the dative case, but in most modern dialects is used for all cases and numbers.
You comes from the Proto-Germanic demonstrative base *juz-, *iwwiz from Proto-Indo-European *yu- (second-person plural pronoun). Old English had singular, dual, and plural second-person pronouns. The dual form was lost by the twelfth century,: 117 and the singular form was lost by the early 1600s. The development is shown in the following table.: 117, 120, 121
Early Modern English distinguished between the plural ye and the singular thou. As in many other European languages, English at the time had a T–V distinction, which 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 modern English, although it persists in some English dialects.
Yourself had developed by the early 14th century, with the plural yourselves attested from 1520.
In Standard Modern English, you has five shapes representing six distinct word forms:
- you: the nominative (subjective) and accusative (objective or oblique case: 146 ) forms
- your: the dependent genitive (possessive) form
- yours: independent genitive (possessive) form
- yourselves: the plural reflexive form
- yourself: the singular reflexive form
Plural forms from other varieties
Although there is some dialectal retention of the original plural ye and the original singular thou, most English-speaking groups have lost the original forms. Because of the loss of the original singular-plural distinction, many English dialects belonging to this group have innovated new plural forms of the second person pronoun. Examples of such pronouns sometimes seen and heard include:
- y'all, or you all – southern United States, African-American Vernacular English, the Abaco Islands, St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha. Y'all however, is also occasionally used for the second-person singular in the North American varieties.
- you guys [ju gajz~juɣajz] – United States, particularly in the Midwest, Northeast, South Florida and West Coast; Canada, Australia. Gendered usage varies; for mixed groups, "you guys" is nearly always used. For groups consisting of only women, forms like "you girls" or "you gals" might appear instead, though "you guys" is sometimes used for a group of only women as well.
- you lot – United Kingdom, Palmerston Island, Australia
- you mob – Australia
- you-all, all-you – Caribbean English, Saba
- a(ll)-yo-dis – Guyana
- allyuh – Trinidad and Tobago
- among(st)-you – Carriacou, Grenada, Guyana, Utila
- wunna – Barbados
- yinna – Bahamas
- unu/oona – Jamaica, Belize, Cayman Islands, Barbados, San Salvador Island
- yous(e) – Ireland, Tyneside, Merseyside, Central Scotland, Australia, Falkland Islands, New Zealand, Philadelphia, parts of the Midwestern US, Cape Breton and rural Canada
- yous(e) guys – in the United States, particularly in New York City region, Philadelphia, Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan;
- you-uns, or yinz – Western Pennsylvania, the Ozarks, the Appalachians
- ye, yee, yees, yiz – Ireland, Tyneside, Newfoundland and Labrador
You prototypically refers to the addressee along with zero or more other persons, excluding the speaker. You is also used to refer to personified things (e.g., why won't you start? addressed to a car). You is always definite even when it is not specific.
Semantically, you is both singular and plural, though syntactically it is always plural: it always takes a verb form that originally marked the word as plural, (i.e. you are, in common with we are and they are).
Third person usage
You is used to refer to an indeterminate person, as a more common alternative to the very formal indefinite pronoun one. Though this may be semantically third person, for agreement purposes, you is always second person.
- Example: "One should drink water frequently" or "You should drink water frequently".
You always triggers plural verb agreement, even when it is semantically singular.
You can appear as a subject, object, determiner or predicative complement. The reflexive form also appears as an adjunct. You occasionally appears as a modifier in a noun phrase.
- Subject: You're there; your being there; you paid for yourself to be there.
- Object: I saw you; I introduced her to you; You saw yourself.
- Predicative complement: The only person there was you.
- Dependent determiner: I met your friend.
- Independent determiner: This is yours.
- Adjunct: You did it yourself.
- Modifier: (no known examples)
Pronouns rarely take dependents, but it is possible for you to have many of the same kind of dependents as other noun phrases.
- Relative clause modifier: you who believe
- Determiner: the real you; *the you
- Adjective phrase modifier: the real you; *real you
- Adverb phrase external modifier: Not even you
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the following pronunciations are used:
|yourselves||(UK) /jɔːˈsɛlvz/, /jʊəˈsɛlvz/
(US) /jɔrˈsɛlvz/, /jʊrˈsɛlvz/
|yourself||(UK) /jɔːˈsɛlf/, /jʊəˈsɛlf/
(US) /jɔrˈsɛlf/, /jʊrˈsɛlf/
- ^ "Origin and meaning of it". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
- ^ a b Blake, Norman, ed. (1992). The Cambridge history of the English Language: Volume II 1066–1476. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- ^ a b "thee". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
- ^ "yourselves". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
- ^ a b Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge University Press.
- ^ Lass, Roger, ed. (1999). The Cambridge history of the English Language: Volume III 1476–1776. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- ^ Rios, Delia M (2004-06-01). "'You-guys': It riles Miss Manners and other purists, but for most it adds color to language landscape". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
- ^ a b c d e Schreier, Daniel; Trudgill, Peter; Schneider, Edgar W.; Williams, Jeffrey P., eds. (2013). The Lesser-Known Varieties of English: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139487412.
- ^ Jochnowitz, George (1984). "Another View of You Guys". American Speech. 58 (1): 68–70. doi:10.2307/454759. JSTOR 454759.
- ^ Finegan, Edward (2011). Language: Its Structure and Use. Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc p. 489. ISBN 978-0495900412
- ^ a b c d e Williams, Jeffrey P.; Schneider, Edgar W.; Trudgill, Peter; Schreier, Daniel, eds. (2015). Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-02120-4.
- ^ "Expressions". The Aussie English Podcast. Archived from the original on Aug 23, 2018.
- ^ a b c d e f Allsopp, Richard (2003) . Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Kingston: The University of the West Indies Press. ISBN 978-976-640-145-0.
- ^ "Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago". Chateau Guillaumme Bed and Breakfast.
- ^ Dolan, T. P. (2006). A Dictionary of Hiberno-English. Gill & Macmillan. p. 26. ISBN 978-0717140398
- ^ Wales, Katie (1996). Personal Pronouns in Present-Day English. Cambridge University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0521471022
- ^ Kortmann, Bernd; Upton, Clive (2008). Varieties of English: The British Isles. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 378. ISBN 978-3110196351
- ^ Taavitsainen, Irma; Jucker, Andreas H. (2003). Diachronic Perspectives on Address Term Systems. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 351. ISBN 978-9027253484
- ^ Butler, Susan (Aug 30, 2013). "Pluralising 'you' to 'youse'". www.macquariedictionary.com.au. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
- ^ My sweet | Philadelphia Inquirer | 02/03/2008 Archived April 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ McClelland, Edward (Feb 6, 2017). "Here's hoping all youse enjoy this". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- ^ Rehder, John B. (2004). Appalachian folkways. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-7879-4. OCLC 52886851.
- ^ Howe, Stephen (1996). The Personal Pronouns in the Germanic Languages: A Study of Personal Morphology and Change in the Germanic Languages from the First Records to the Present Day. p. 174. Walter de Gruyter & Co. ISBN 978-3110146363
- ^ Graddol, David et al. (1996). English History, Diversity and Change. Routledge. p. 244. ISBN 978-0415131186
- ^ "you, pron., adj., and n." Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
- ^ Garner, Bryan A. (2016). Garner's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 651. ISBN 978-0-19-049148-2.