You is a word used to refer to a person or group of individuals. It can be the object of a sentence or the subject of a verb. It can also be a preposition, an indirect object or a conjunction.
Historically, you was only used for the singular case, although it was more frequently used in the plural. The personal pronoun you was often used before nouns, as it functioned as an accusative form. This is now a nonstandard form of the pronoun. Likewise, you is not normally followed by a verb.
In Modern English, you is both a second person and a third person personal pronoun. As such, it is not a gender-specific word, though some people may perceive it as such. A thou is a second person, feminine noun. However, it is not common to use thou in modern American English.
In a similar vein, the T-V distinction was also important in the history of the English language. This distinction made the plural forms of you more deferential. And while the word thou is no longer used in contemporary English, thou and thee still mark a difference between a superior and inferior relationship.
However, the T-V distinction does not mean that you can get away with saying any old thing. There are exceptions to the rule. If you’re writing a formal letter, for example, you might want to avoid the word thou entirely. Similarly, if you’re going to say something in a casual conversation, you might want to opt for the more formal tu or the noun-related usted.
Moreover, while you is still the most commonly used word in modern English, there are other words to choose from. Some of these include yow, iow, iwwiz and jiz. They all have different meanings and spellings, and can confuse native English speakers.
The word yow is not a contraction of you and are, but it is an expression that is likely to pop up in your head from time to time. This word is a synonym for the verb wes, and it is derived from iow. Yow is a noun, but it is not as well established as you.
The question “what are you up to?” is another way to ask a friend about what they are doing. When asked, most people answer with “not much” or “nothing.” But the question is not necessarily a direct one. Sometimes it’s meant to refer to a subgroup of individuals, and it may be a question to ask about someone’s nationality.
Finally, the y-all is a common form of you in African American Vernacular English. Though it is not a native English word, it is gaining widespread usage among some populations. The y-all is often accompanied by a possessive, and this often takes the form you-all.
These are the oblique and literal ways to say “you.” It’s important to note, however, that the y-all is a singular form, while the y-uns is a plural form.