You Singular or Plural

For 2nd person singular and plural, formal or informal, we only have one pronoun in English today. So aren't you curious to know how do we tell the difference?

The difference between singular and plural "you"

When Can We Use 'You'?

'You' is the singular and plural, second-person pronoun. It refers to the person or people being spoken to. 'You' can be used in 3 ways:

1. You as the Singular Pronoun

'You' as a singular second-person pronoun is pretty straightforward; it is used to refer to the person being spoken to.

How are you?

You said you talked to her.

2. You as the Plural Pronoun

'You' as a plural second-person pronoun refers to the people being spoken to. In modern English, it has become more common to often add another word to the 'you' to show that 'you' here is plural, not singular.

What are you doing here you guys?

You lot are cheerful!

You all are invited to my sweet sixteen party!

'You all' can sometimes be considered very informal, especially in North American English.

3. You as an Impersonal Pronoun

'You' can also be used to refer to an unidentified person or a person in general who is not determined who. In this case, 'you' is the equivalent of the impersonal pronoun 'one'. The difference between the two is that 'one' is formal and academic, while 'you' is informal and colloquial.

One can learn a lot by traveling.

You can learn a lot by traveling.

Impersonal or Personal Pronoun?

When you use 'you' in a sentence like above, it might not be clear whether the 'you' is an impersonal or personal pronoun. To clarify the difference, simply add the phrase 'as in one' to the sentence to make it clear that you mean 'you' as an impersonal pronoun.

You as in one can learn a lot by traveling.


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