From Academic Kids

You is the second person plural pronoun in English. In standard English, it serves as the second person singular pronoun as well.

In modern standard English, you serves as both the nominative and oblique case. The genitive case is your, and the possessive predicate pronoun is yours.



It is descended from Old English ge or ȝe, (both pronounced roughly like Modern English yea) which was the old nominative case form of the pronoun, and eow, which was the old accusative case form of the pronoun. In Middle English the nominative case became ye, and the oblique case (formed by the merger of the accusative case and the former dative case) was you. In early Modern English either the nominative or the accusative forms have been generalized in most dialects. Most generalized you; some dialects in the north of England and Scotland generalized ye, or use ye as a clipped or clitic form of the pronoun.

Ye and you are cognate with Dutch jij and jou (gij in dialect or old Dutch), German ihr, and Gothic jus. The specific form of this pronoun is unique to the Germanic languages, but the Germanic forms ultimately do relate to the general Indo-European forms represented by Latin vos.

Both singular and plural

In standard English, you is both singular and plural; it always takes a verb form that originally marked the word as plural, such as you are. This was not always so.

Old English distinguished between the plural you and the singular thou. This distinction was lost in modern English due to the importation from France of a Romance linguistic feature which is commonly called the T-V distinction. This distinction 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 standard English. Ironically, the fact that thou is now seen primarily in literary sources such as the King James Bible (often in reference to God) or Shakespeare (often in dramatic dialogs, e.g. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"), has led many modern anglophones to perceive it as more formal, not familiar (case in point: in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader addresses the Emperor saying, "What is thy bidding, master?").

Because you is both singular and plural, various English dialects have attempted to revive the distinction between a singular and plural you to avoid confusion between the two uses. This is typically done by adding a new plural form; examples of new plurals sometimes seen and heard are you-all/y'all (primarily in the Southeast United States), you guys (Midwest, Northeast, West Coast), youse/youse guys (Australia, New York City region), and you-uns/yins (Pennsylvania). [1] ( All of these new plurals are marked as basilectal, though they may be useful. English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English, sometimes uses the word ye as the plural form of you.

You is also unusual in that, being both singular and plural, it has two reflexive forms, yourself and yourselves. However, in recent years singular themself is sometimes seen: see singular they.

For a discussion of the alternative "ye" spelling of the definitive article, please see or Ye Olde.


In the Southern United States dialects of American English, the term y'all, a contraction of you all, serves as the vernacular second-person plural pronoun. Because, in formal written English, the second-person pronoun you can be both singular and plural, many regional or national dialects have developed an informal distinction. This distinction is often made by adding a word to follow you in order to make a pronominal phrase for the plural. In British English, for example, the function is served by the phrase you lot. In many U.S. dialects, we find you guys (or, quite often, yous guys). Likewise, in the Deep South, the appropriate term is y'all.

See also



Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools