You – The Plural Form of the Second Person Pronoun


In Modern English, the second-person pronoun you is grammatically plural. It was historically only used in the dative case. Today, you is used in all cases and for numbers. Despite its plural nature, you can be confusing when it is ambiguous about its own gender. The most commonly misunderstood word is “you” in informal speech. You should be aware of this if you find yourself in a conversation.

Although you is a more common pronoun than ye in informal speech, it is also a more formal way to address people. It reflects a closer relationship between two people, but it can be used to show respect. Throughout the 16th century, you became the dominant subject pronoun in conversation, replacing the aristocratic and scholarly forms. Even in the 18th century, you continued to have informal use, though its respectability declined. To hold you to the singular, special forms were introduced, but none became standard.

To make you’re a less confusing word, look for homophones. They are words with similar meanings but different spellings. The plural form of you’re is also a contraction, and the apostrophe identifies it as a contraction. You should avoid using your personal pronouns, such as “you’re,” in formal documents. You’ll also find that you’re used in informal writing. If you’re learning English online, keep in mind that you’ll encounter homophones.