You, the Personal Pronoun, Is Both Singular and Plural


Netflix has picked up a new thriller called “You.” The show, which first aired on Lifetime, follows bookstore manager Joe Goldberg, a self-described serial killer who develops an intense obsession with a graduate-school student named Guinevere Beck. It stars Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan, Zach Cherry, and Shay Mitchell. The second season of “You” will premiere in December 2019.

You is a personal pronoun that is both singular and plural. In Modern English, the word you is used in the nominative and oblique cases before nouns. Possessive forms of you include yours, and even yourself. You can also use “you” before a noun, which is more informal than the indefinite pronoun one.

The use of “you” in conversations and writing reveals the darker side of obsession. Joe, a talented and witty stalker, spends hours every day thinking about the woman he loves. He seems trustworthy and quick-witted, but the show makes the audience realize how easily privacy can be invaded.

In the early Middle English, you and ye were used interchangeably. However, later the T-V distinction in English became established, which made the plural form more deferential and respectful. The former became obsolete in modern English, while the latter is still used in some dialects. For example, y’all is still frequently used in the southern United States and African American Vernacular English, and you can occasionally hear it used in the second person singular in North American varieties.

When listening to English online, it’s important to be familiar with homophones. While they’re common in natural English, they can be confusing for English online listening learners. Even native English speakers can make mistaken decisions due to these errors. For example, “your” are both possessive adjectives, while “you’re” is a contraction of two words. The apostrophe helps distinguish between them, but spell check may miss them.