3.2. The Person and the Character

When we speak or write, we join the grammatical Time, Aspect, and the Person. The grammatical persons have their grammar names.


We use the singular to talk about one person, thing, object, event, animal, etc.


We use the plural to talk about two or more persons, things, objects, events, animals, etc.





First person



Second person



Third person

he, she, it



The words we use for grammatical persons are personal pronouns. Pronouns can stand in the place of nouns. The Latin name for a pronoun was “pro-nomen”.


We can present personal pronouns looking to the relations they show. We may look to our core be and have, thinking about psychological sides to ourselves and distance.




Naturally, we can easily tell if we speak with one or more persons. The same is true about all English-speaking people, yet the pronoun you remains the same for one person as well as quite a few people. Language usually marks differences, though it is easy to tell cars from houses, and people from things. As the matter could not be in difficulty telling the singular from the plural, we can think about the pronoun you as implying “not me” or “not I”. The person or persons it indicates are psychologically or physically not far away. We can use the pronoun you as a form of direct address.


This does not mean we could just insert “not me” for “you”. We can think about a cognitive process in which we ask,
“Do you agree?”
We obviously would know own resolve, but we would not know that by the other person, hence the question.


All natural languages can tell the persons as “different from me”, in a cognitive process.


We can see the grammatical persons you and me (I) as making the person we. The psychological or physical distance can be small. The pronoun we also happens to be used for a personally neutral figure of speech, by authors. Writing “we”, I do not imply whatever closeness. I only avoid speculation on differences between you and me. Especially 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?)


Interpreting language, we always mind language functions, that is, how language works. In a conversation or a letter, the form “we” would imply we are psychologically or physically not far away from someone. A book or a website is not a conversation or a letter.


The third person singular he, she, and it, would be psychologically furthest away from the pronoun I, which has had uses in literature. Both the verb to be and the verb to have differ for the persons. We may reckon the difference is marked the most, as other people can say he or she to speak about ourselves singularily, whereas we always say I, in the context.


The third person plural they can imply a smaller psychological distance than he, she, or it, as we never literally think about ourselves in the plural.


Everyday Englishes have forms such as youse, yous, or you’s. Some people would say “us” rather than “me”, sometimes. Please see below for the forms “us” and “me”.


Verbs also have their sides. Let us think about another irregular verb, to tell. We can say, “She told me”. We also can say, “I told her”. The forms “me” and “her” are the objects of the verb. Let us look at the personal pronouns regarding the sides of the verb.




First person



Second person



Third person

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



The form youse or the singular us may show some language psychology, too. The form us always involves me, which is singular. The form youse always connotes “not me” and can be plural or singular. 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 history of English languages. For example, the Progressive is derived from gerundive forms, as in
He was on reading (noun)  ›››  He was reading (verbal, Progressive).


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

Link to chapter 3.3. The Big Chart for all persons and three paths



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