“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”—Winston, the most under appreciated Ghostbuster, with some simple advice for his colleague
This week, we take a look at our most reliable pronoun: you.
Few things are dependable in this world, so it’s always a relief to find things you can count on. Two decades after she began picking her nose on MTV, Jenny McCarthy is still pathetic and irritating. Despite his departure from the airwaves, Hank Hill continues to the greatest purveyor of propane in the Lone Star State. And 80 years after Knute Rockne bought his unlucky plane ticket, America still can’t stop loving the great heroes of Notre Dame.
However, in the Heraclitean realm of pronouns, change is king: I becomes me, he turns into him, who transforms into whom—you get the idea. However, we can always count on you to stay the same. Whether singular or plural, or serving as a subject or object, you does not change its form. Check it out:
In our often-complex world of grammar, it doesn’t get any easier than you.
We should take a moment to note the simplicity of you in English. In languages throughout history, the second-person singular pronoun has taken a comparatively ridiculous number of forms. For example, in Latin, “you” can have 12 different forms, depending on whether it is singular or plural, and acting as a subject, direct object, indirect object, and so forth. The ancient Indian language Sanskrit has 21 versions “you.” It gets even worse in languages like Finnish and Hungarian, but we’ll spare you the pain of reviewing those numbers. The point is obvious: English speakers are lucky to have just you.