3.2. THE PERSON ‘YOU’

It is naturally easy, in a standard conversation, to tell if we speak with one or more persons. However, the pronoun you has the same shape, whether it refers to one person, or even quite a few people.

PICTURE: THE PERSON 'YOU'

 

 

Language grammar also does tell, if we talk about many or one, person or another object of thought.

 

The grammatical singular tells about one person, thing, or another object of thought. The plural tells about two or more objects of thought.

 

 

Singular

Plural

First person

I

we

Second person

you

you

Third person

he, she, it

they

 

Words as I, you, we, they, he, she, or it grammatically are personal pronouns.

 

The Latin name for a pronoun was “pro-nomen”, which meant “in the place of a noun”. Pronouns can take the same places as nouns, in written or spoken language.

 

Why is it we have the same word shape, you, for one person as well as two or many, in English? Common sense, if we say we are “beside ourselves”, we use a figure of speech.

EMOTICON: SMILE

Let us look to our core verbs, to be and to have, to view personal pronouns as evolving around the first person singular, the pronoun I. We can interpret the personal pronoun “you” as more or less — “not me”. Everybody is always own self.

PICTURE: PERSONAL PRONOUNS WITH THE VERBS TO BE AND TO HAVE

 

We can think about the grammatical person we as made of the persons you and me. The pronoun we happens to be used for a personally neutral figure of speech, by authors. It can help avoid speculation on differences between you and me.

 

In grammar guidance, it might feel cumbersome to tell or read, You need to think about this, or You need the exercise.
(How could I even know you?)

EMOTICON: SMILE

We could describe the third person singular — he, she, and it — as “not you and not me” in the singular. This third person singular is the most different from the first, the pronoun I, which has had uses in literature.

 

Both the verbs, to be and and to have, differ for the third and first person. By the way, other people would say he or she about us, especially if not in touch. Ourselves, we always say I, as everyone is own best permanent company.

EMOTICON: A JOKE

We can think the third person plural they means “not you and not me”, in the plural. It is less marked for difference, as we never literally think about ourselves in the plural. We only use figures of speech.

 

Further, we could say, “She told me”. We also could say, “I told her”. The forms “me” and “her” are the objects of the verb. All personal pronouns have the grammatically objective uses.

 

Singular

Plural

First person

me
(I)

us
(we)

Second person

you
(you)

you
(you)

Third person

him, her, it
(he, she, it)

them
(they)

 

English also has the “generic you”. The form means anyone or everyone, then:
If you eat a cookie, you don’t keep it.
However, in contexts as exams (when we are one side of the conversation and the examiner or examiners are the other), or when we chat with one person only, the “generic you” is likely to be interpreted as the second grammatical person. This further supports the thought that the pronoun “you” connotes a sense as “not me”.

 

Everyday Englishes also have forms as youse, yous, or you’s. Dependent on individual speakers, the forms youse, yous, or you’s can put the form “you” in the plural, as for nouns, or combine the verb singular feature ―s, when directed to one person.

 

Feature transfer already has happened, in the history of English languages. For example, the Progressive can be derived from the Middle Ages gerund, as in
He was on reading;
(the word “reading” is a nominal, it is a gerund).
›››
He was reading;
(the word “reading” is a verbal, it makes a Progressive pattern).

 

Please mind, forms yous, youse, or you’s are informal. Feel welcome to our big chart for all persons and three paths.

BUTTON, 3.3. ALL PERSONAL PRONOUNS AND THREE ASPECTS

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LINK: READ THIS IN A SLAVIC LANGUAGE, POLISH

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