3.2. THE PERSON ‘YOU’

In a standard, face-to-face conversation, it is naturally easy to tell if we speak with one or more persons. However, the pronoun you has evolved into the same shape for the singular and the plural. The form is also the same as verb object, to compare phrases like I told her, or She told me.

Singular

Plural

Object

Object

First Person

I

me

we

us

Second Person

you

you

you

you

Third Person

he, she, it

him, her, it

they

them

It could not be that language grammar is short of forms. We may think about a possible psychological reality, and try to explain the matter to ourselves, since learning is easy when we have comprehension.

Our comprehension does not have to be universal, that is, we do not need everybody believing the same, to have an idea. Human comprehension is not universal generally.

If we look to our core be and have, we can interpret the personal pronoun “you” as more or less — “not me”.

To think about human history and civilization, such evolution is likely, quite pragmatic, and good quality thinking. We mentioned human inner reference for grammar in subchapter 3.1. Part 4 of the Travel has nodi of time, where the reference is very important, as our grammars might become much more complicated without the idea.

Be and have differ the most for the singular first and third persons, for I or me as compared against he, she, or it.


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We can view the grammatical person we as joining the persons you and me. We also can use the pronoun we for a personally neutral figure of speech. It can help avoid speculation on differences between you and me.

Authors conform to this manner quite often. 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?)

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

Other people could say he or she about us, especially if not in touch. Ourselves, we always say I, as everyone is own best permanent company.

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

English also has the “generic you”. In context, the form means anyone or everyone:
If you eat a cookie, you don’t have it for later.

Everyday Englishes also have forms as youse, yous, or you’s. Dependent on individual speakers, these forms could be putting the pronoun “you” in the plural, as for nouns, or combining the verb singular feature s, when directed to one person.

Please mind, they are informal, as they “trade” between parts of speech, pronouns and nouns or verbs.

Such “trade” has already happened in the history of English. The Progressive can be derived from the Middle Ages gerund, as in
He was on reading;
(the word “reading” is nominal here;
it is a gerund, and it answers the question Who or What?).
He was reading;
(the word “reading” is here verbal;
standalone, it is a participle to answer the question Doing what?).

Feel welcome to a big chart for three Persons and paths,
■→3.2. THE SIMPLE, PROGRESSIVE, AND PERFECT TOGETHER.

■→This text is also available in Polish.


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