AskDefine | Define you

The Collaborative Dictionary

thou \thou\ ([th]ou), pron. [Sing.: nom. Thou; poss. Thy ([th][imac]) or Thine ([th][imac]n); obj. Thee ([th][=e]). Pl.: nom. You (y[=oo]); poss. Your (y[=oo]r) or Yours (y[=oo]rz); obj. You.] [OE. thou, [thorn]u, AS. [eth][=u], [eth]u; akin to OS. & OFries. thu, G., Dan. & Sw. du, Icel. [thorn][=u], Goth. [thorn]u, Russ. tui, Ir. & Gael. tu, W. ti, L. tu, Gr. sy`, Dor. ty`, Skr. tvam. [root]185. Cf. Thee, Thine, Te Deum.] The second personal pronoun, in the singular number, denoting the person addressed; thyself; the pronoun which is used in addressing persons in the solemn or poetical style. [1913 Webster] Art thou he that should come? --Matt. xi.
[1913 Webster] Note: "In Old English, generally, thou is the language of a lord to a servant, of an equal to an equal, and expresses also companionship, love, permission, defiance, scorn, threatening: whilst ye is the language of a servant to a lord, and of compliment, and further expresses honor, submission, or entreaty." --Skeat. [1913 Webster] Note: Thou is now sometimes used by the Friends, or Quakers, in familiar discourse, though most of them corruptly say thee instead of thou. [1913 Webster]
You \You\ ([=u]), pron. [Possess. Your ([=u]r) or Yours ([=u]rz); dat. & obj. You.] [OE. you, eou, eow, dat. & acc., AS. e['o]w, used as dat. & acc. of ge, g[=e], ye; akin to OFries. iu, io, D. u, G. euch, OHG. iu, dat., iuwih, acc., Icel. y[eth]r, dat. & acc., Goth. izwis; of uncertain origin. [root]189. Cf. Your.] The pronoun of the second person, in the nominative, dative, and objective case, indicating the person or persons addressed. See the Note under Ye. [1913 Webster] Ye go to Canterbury; God you speed. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster] Good sir, I do in friendship counsel you To leave this place. --Shak. [1913 Webster] In vain you tell your parting lover You wish fair winds may waft him over. --Prior. [1913 Webster] Note: Though you is properly a plural, it is in all ordinary discourse used also in addressing a single person, yet properly always with a plural verb. "Are you he that hangs the verses on the trees, wherein Rosalind is so admired ?" --Shak. You and your are sometimes used indefinitely, like we, they, one, to express persons not specified. "The looks at a distance like a new-plowed land; but as you come near it, you see nothing but a long heap of heavy, disjointed clods." --Addison. "Your medalist and critic are much nearer related than the world imagine." --Addison. "It is always pleasant to be forced to do what you wish to do, but what, until pressed, you dare not attempt." --Hook. You is often used reflexively for yourself of yourselves. "Your highness shall repose you at the tower." --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Moby Thesaurus

I, I myself, alter, alter ego, alterum, better self, ego, ethical self, he, her, herself, him, himself, inner man, inner self, it, me, my humble self, myself, number one, oneself, other self, ourselves, self, she, subconscious self, subliminal self, superego, them, themselves, they, yours truly, yourself, yourselves



From ēow < West < . See usage notes. ye, you and your are cognate with German ihr, euch and euer, respectively. ye is also cognate with archaic Swedish I. The presence of final -r in the German form is from an earlier -z, and is mirrored by the final -r’s in German er and wir, whereas English he and we lack the -r; Dutch and Scandinavian follow English in this respect.



When a word ending in /t/, /d/, /s/, or /z/ is followed by you, these may coalesce with the /j/, resulting in /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/, respectively. This is occasionally represented in writing, e.g. gotcha ← got you.


  1. i subject pronoun The person spoken to, or written to, as a subject.
    You must do as I tell you.
  2. i object pronoun The person spoken to or written to, as an object.
    We’ll go with you to the game.
    You must do as I tell you.
  3. i subject pronoun The group of persons spoken, or written to, as a subject.
    You are all supposed to do as I tell you.
  4. i object pronoun The group of persons spoken, or written to, as an object.
    You are all supposed to do as I tell you.
  5. i subject pronoun Anyone, one; an unspecified individual.
    You have to be at least 36 inches high to go on this ride.
  6. i object pronoun Anyone, one; an unspecified individual.
    They don’t smile at you when they serve you in this store.

Usage notes

  • you was originally a formal form used when addressing strangers or to show deference, with the singular being thou when talking to friends or family. (This usage echoed German usage of "Sie" for polite conversation, and "du" for informal, friendly conversation.) you gradually came to be generalized to the singular in all circumstances.
  • Ye was the plural form used to address groups. The original nominative form was ye, whilst you was the objective (accusative and dative) form, but with time ye came to represent any plural form. Today the absence of a plural ye has led to slang expressions such as you guys or youse (both are considered colloquial).
  • Early Modern English works use these archaic meanings. For example the King James Bible uses ye when referring to groups, you to display politeness or deference, and thou to represent a close personal relationship (such as with God).
  • See Wiktionary:English inflection for other personal pronouns.



subject pronoun: the person being addressed
object pronoun: the person being addressed
subject pronoun: the group being addressed
object pronoun: the group being addressed
subject pronoun: one
  • Afrikaans: jy
  • Arabic: (man)
  • Chinese: (nǐ), 任何 (rèn hé rén)
  • Czech: vy
  • Danish: man
  • Dutch: men i archaic, je, i Flemish ge
  • Esperanto: oni
  • Ewe:
  • Finnish: passive tense used
  • French: on
  • German: man
  • Icelandic: maður
  • Italian: si
  • Japanese:
    generic: (きみ, kimi)
    polite: 貴方 (あなた, anata)
    slightly rude, or often friendly: お前 (おまえ, omaé)
    highly insulting: 貴様 (きさま, kisamá)
    Note: In Japanese, all of these words are actually nouns and are not normally required.
  • Jèrriais: nou
  • Kurdish: mirov, تۆ
  • Norwegian: man
  • Novial:
  • Old English: man
  • Portuguese: se
  • Spanish: se
  • Swedish: man
object pronoun: one
  • Afrikaans: jou
  • Chinese: (nǐ), 任何 (rèn hé rén)
  • Czech:
    direct object: vás
    indirect object: vám
    after preposition: vám
  • Danish: en
  • Dutch: je, i Flemish u
  • Ewe:
  • Finnish: passive tense used
  • French:
    preceding direct and indirect object: se
    after preposition: soi
  • Icelandic: mann
  • Japanese:
    generic: (きみ, kimi)
    polite: 貴方 (あなた, anata)
    slightly rude, or often friendly: お前 (おまえ, omaé)
    highly insulting: 貴様 (きさま, kisamá)
    Note: In Japanese, all of these words are actually nouns and are not normally required.
  • Kurdish: mirov, mirovî
  • Norwegian: en, noen
  • Novial:
  • Old English: man
  • Spanish: uno
  • Swedish: en


  1. The individual or group spoken or written to.
    Have you gentlemen come to see the lady who fell backwards off a bus?
  2. Used before epithets for emphasis.
    You idiot!


the individual or group spoken/written to
used before epithets for emphasis



  1. to get drunk, to get tipsy

See also



  1. have; possess
    Zhongguo yinggai you yi zhong tǒngyī de yuyan. "China should has a unified language."
    zhe fen baozhi you hen duo guanggao. "This newspaper has a lot of advertisement."
    women xuexiao de jianshenfang you hen duo tiyu qixie. "There're many sports apparatuses in the gymnasium of our school.
    zhe jian yiyuan li you hen duo bingren. (zhè jiàn yīyuàn li yǒu hěn duō bìngrén. 这间医院里有很多病人.) — There are many patients in this hospital.
  2. be; exist

Pinyin syllable

  1. A transliteration of any of a number of Chinese characters properly represented as having one of four tones, yōu, yóu, yǒu, or yòu.

Usage notes

English transcriptions of Chinese speech often fail to distinguish between the critical tonal differences employed in the Chinese language, using words such as this one without the appropriate indication of tone.
You () is the second-person personal pronoun in Modern English.


In standard English, you is both singular and plural; it always takes a verb form that originally marked the word as plural, such as you are. This was not always so. Early Modern English distinguished between the plural you and the singular thou. This distinction was lost in modern English due to the importation from France of a Romance linguistic feature which is commonly called the T-V distinction. This distinction made the plural forms more respectful and deferential; they were used to address strangers and social superiors. This distinction ultimately led to familiar thou becoming obsolete in standard English (and Dutch), although this did not happen in other languages such as French. Ironically, because thou is now seen primarily in literary sources such as King James Bible (often directed to God, who is traditionally addressed in the familiar) or Shakespeare (often in dramatic dialogs, e.g. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"), many modern anglophones erroneously perceive it as more formal, rather than familiar (case in point: in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader addresses the Emperor saying, "What is thy bidding, my master?").
Because you is both singular and plural, various English dialects have attempted to revive the distinction between a singular and plural you to avoid confusion between the two uses. This is typically done by adding a new plural form; examples of new plurals sometimes seen and heard are y'all/you-all (primarily in the southern United States and African American Vernacular English), you guys (in the U.S., particularly in Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast, and in Australia), you lot (in the UK), youse (Scotland, Northern England, Australia, New Zealand) youse guys (New York City region, Philadelphia, Michigan's Upper Peninsula; also spelt without the E), and you-uns/yinz (Western Pennsylvania, The Appalachians). English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English, sometimes uses the word ye as the plural form, or yous. Although these plurals are useful in daily speech, they are generally not found in Standard English. Among them, you guys is considered most neutral in the U.S. It is the most common plural form of you in the U.S. except in the dialects with y'all, and has been used even in the White House.
You is also unusual in that, being both singular and plural, it has two reflexive forms, yourself and yourselves. However, in recent years singular themself is sometimes seen: see singular they.


You is derived from Old English ge or (both pronounced roughly like Modern English yea), which was the old nominative case form of the pronoun, and eow, which was the old accusative case form of the pronoun. In Middle English the nominative case became ye, and the oblique case (formed by the merger of the accusative case and the former dative case) was you. In early Modern English either the nominative or the accusative forms have been generalized in most dialects. Most generalized you; some dialects in the north of England and Scotland generalized ye, or use ye as a clipped or clitic form of the pronoun.
Ye and you are cognate with Dutch jij and jou, German ihr, Gothic jus and Old Norse ér. (Modern Icelandic þér is a variant form due to alteration of phrases like háfiþ ér (you have) into háfi þér etc.) The specific form of this pronoun is unique to the Germanic languages, but the Germanic forms ultimately do relate to the general Indo-European forms represented by Latin vos.
Note that in the early days of the printing press, the letter y was used in place of the thorn (þ), so many modern instances of ye (such as in "Ye Olde Shoppe") are in fact examples of the and not of you.

Plural forms in other European languages

Similar to English, u in Dutch is taken as a polite form for both plural and singular, while jij (singular) and jullie (plural) are considered informal. (Dutch lost its original thou form, du, just like English did; the forms U, jij, and jullie are more analogous to English you, ye, and y'all respectively). French has kept the system intact. Vous is still used as formal and plural, while tu is used for informal singular. Russian uses this system also: vy (вы) is formal/plural and ty (ты) is informal singular. This kind of system is also found in other languages, like Finnish and Swedish. In modern Swedish though, the term ni (plural for you) is rarely used to address a single person, not even in formal circumstances. The term used is du (you, singular).
While English, Dutch, French and Russian use or have used the plural forms as the polite forms, other European languages use forms deriving from the third person. German, for example, uses the third person plural pronoun sie, capitalized Sie, as its formal pronoun (in other words, Sie is grammatically identical to They). Danish and Norwegian languages similarly have De; however, this usage is generally outdated and replaced with the familiar form. Italian has separate forms for singular (Lei) and plural (Loro), which are derived from the Italian words for she and they respectively; a partial similarity to the German system (especially since the German word for she is also sie, but conjugates differently from Sie). However, sometimes the French system is also used in Italy, using the plural pronoun voi as singular. In Hungarian, te is informal, while there are different, synonymous words for formal (ön and maga being the two most commonly used).
Spanish and Portuguese use pronouns derived from third person phrases which originally meant your mercy, sir or madam, along with their plural forms. For Spanish, they are usted (pl. ustedes), and for Portuguese, você (pl. vocês), o senhor (pl. os senhores) and a senhora (pl. as senhoras). Você is often employed informally in Brazil, though the original singular pronoun tu is more commonly used in the South, the Northeast and some rural regions (this may be due to foreign influence in some locations), but o senhor, a senhora and their plurals are still used and always formal. In some Spanish speaking areas (especially in Latin America), the original second person singular pronoun tú has been dropped entirely, thus erasing the distinction between formal and informal address. In others, it was replaced with an old form of the second person plural pronoun, vos, now used as an informal counterpart to usted. See voseo. Modified versions of vos, vosotros and vosotras, are still used in Spain as informal second person plural pronouns, while the singular is still tú, used informally. Portuguese has moved farther away from the original paradigm; the plural pronoun vós has disappeared in Brazil and is no longer used in ordinary speech in Portugal.
  • "You", (i.e the ordinary member of the public) were awarded the Person of the Year award for 2006 by the United States (U.S.) newsmagazine Time.
you in German: Du (Personalpronomen)
you in Spanish: Tuteo (gramática)
you in Dutch: Jij
you in Japanese: あなた
you in Chechen: Хьо
you in Portuguese: Você
you in Russian: Вы
you in Simple English: You
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