What are second person pronouns?
Second person pronouns are acceptable for use in both informal and formal writing. Formal pieces might include technical and business documents, presentations, blogs, product descriptions, articles and more. These pronouns take the place of a noun and are used to address your reader. The second person uses the pronouns “you,” “your” and “yours.” These three pronouns are used when addressing one, or more than one, person.
The second person pronouns are known as subjective pronouns when they refer to the subject in a sentence or follow a linking verb, which is a verb that does not express action and connects the subject to the verb. Look at the below example:
Example 1: You ran in the marathon (“you” is the subject of the verb “ran).
Example 2: The writer who controls the amount of work completed is you (“is” is a linking verb that connects “you,” the writer, to the verb “completed”).
Second person pronouns are objective pronouns when they act as the object of prepositions or verbs. Consider the following examples:
Example 1: The professor called on you (“you” is the object of the verb “called”).
Example 2: The girl took the paper idea from you (“you” is the object of the preposition “from,” as the object of the verb “took” is “the paper idea”).
Sometimes personal pronouns are used to indicate possession. In that case, the apostrophe punctuation is not necessary. “It’s” is a contraction of two words “it is.” Possessive personal pronouns do not use the apostrophe. Writing “your’s” implies that the words “your is” are substituted, which makes no sense. The example below shows the correct usage of the possessive second case pronoun:
Example: Yours is the second house on the left (“yours” is the second person, singular, possessive case).
“You” – singular or plural?
In writing, use of the word “you” can grow complicated. “You” refers to an individual or a group of people. Make sure your sentence is clear, so that reader know whether you are referring to one person or more than one. Consider the following example:
INCORRECT: Thank you, Wilma and Fred. You should point out Pebbles in the photograph (this sentence indicates that “you” should perform an act. Who should do it – one of them or both of them?).
CORRECT: Thank you, Wilma and Fred. Wilma, you should point out Pebbles in the photograph.
Do not use “you” to refer to yourself
When writing in the second person, make sure that the use of “you” refers to the reader and not yourself. Consider the following example:
INCORRECT: I hate eating seven-course meals because it makes you feel stuffed (you are writing about yourself but say “you”).
CORRECT: I hate eating seven-course meals because it makes me feel stuffed. You hate eating seven-course meals because it makes you feel stuffed.
Note that second person pronouns have no gender distinction. Whether you or your writers are male or female, “you” refers to either gender.