1. Ludus
    Offline

    Ludus New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0

    “You”

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ludus, Mar 19, 2011.

    I hope this is the right section for this thread.

    I have a question about the use of the word “you”.

    If a blogger writes “you” in a post (or a writer in a tale/novel): is he referring to the second plural person? Or to the singular one? I mean when a blogger or a writer writes for his/her readers.

    For example: "If you’ve ever published a book… when you publish your book… you’re going to relate to where I am these days." from Storyfix, or "You should understand your weaknesses and work to improve them" from tor.com.

    Is it a difference in the UK english and in USA english?

    I don't know if you can understand my question. Otherwise, I'll try to explain it :)
     
  2. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    I thought writing in the second person was when you refer to yourself as 'you'.
    Vague about this, so would be interested to know.
     
  3. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    When a writer uses 'you', s/he is addressing the reader directly in second person singular, as if having a conversation. I know it can have a general meaning, e.g. 'When you visit Paris, you should be sure to see Notre Dame' means, of course, 'Visitors to Paris should be sure to see Notre Dame', but by inserting the 'you', each person who reads the work is still being addressed individually.
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yup!... what mad said...
     
  5. Ludus
    Offline

    Ludus New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the explanation. And is it the same for UK and USA english?
     
  6. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    From what I know, yes, it's the same between UK and US.

    This is frequently used places like blog posts where informal writing is fine, but you'll want to limit your use of this in narrative -- many authors get away with it by "breaking the fourth wall" and talking directly to the readers, but you have to get this just right and not overuse it -- and it's generally inappropriate in formal exposition.
     
  7. Ion
    Offline

    Ion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2011
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    7
    'You' works pretty well in first person. It gives your writing that kind of storytelling quality, as if the character were telling the reader, one on one, what it is that's happening.
     
  8. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    True, but I've seen it used badly by novice writers trying to use techniques they haven't mastered yet. As I said, it can be used if done correctly and not overused.
     
  9. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    You say 'not overused' but surely if a book is written in the second person it would have to be used through out, therefore it would be used a lot.

    Having not read a book in the second person, I can only imagine.
     
  10. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    Well, I think that point is self-evident. Naturally, a second-person story will use "you" quite a bit. My post originally referred specifically to first- and third-person perspectived, but I guess I edited that out at some point before posting. Everything else I said about it still applies to second-person perspective.
     
  11. Ludus
    Offline

    Ludus New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks to all.

    I needed to know if the "you" used in blog posts is referred to the second singular person or to the plural one. Ok, it's the second singular one.

    About the narrative, I don't like so much to use the first person (but I like a lot the tales of Lovecraft and Poe). I've written some tales using the first person, but I haven't referred to the readers directly.
     
  12. Scarecrow
    Offline

    Scarecrow Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    True in non-fiction but not necessarily true in fiction. Take Lorrie Morre's "How to Become A Writer." It is a short story written entirely in the second person singular but is not addressing the reader. In this case "You" a character to whom the narrator is referring or talking directly/indirectly to that is seperate from the reader.

    Here's a link to the story: http://www.ninetymeetingsinninetydays.com/lorriemooore.html
     
  13. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    That's an interesting use of second person. Thanks for the link.

    I wouldn't necessarily say that "you" used informally in a blog post is always singular. I think in a lot of cases, there's no distinction. Is the author talking to you specifically? Well, since, presumably, you're not reading the blog post along with someone else, yes, sure. But you're not the only one the author is talking to either. However, it's generally singular in the sense that if someone happens to be sitting next to you, they're generally not included in the "you", so if you want to think of it in those very specific terms, then it's singular.

    I'm curious, why are you asking this question? I don't really see a practical difference between the two (unless you're referring to the someone-sitting-next-to-you case), so I think you may have something in mind that I'm not picking up on, and I'd be interested to hear what that is.
     
  14. Leonardo Pisano
    Offline

    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    13
    In a dialogue 'you' could very well be plural. The reader should be able to tell from the context. The general meaning is in order when you are able to replace it by 'one' (which is third person of course, so verbs need to be made grammatically correct). ['When one visits Paris, ...]
     
  15. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Charles Stross's Halting State is about computer role-playing games, and in that case the "you" refers to the reader playing the role of the character, like the old adventure games ("You are in a maze of twisty turny little passages all alike").

    But on the original question, I would agree (with a British perspective) that "you" in a blog post means the reader: singular.
     
  16. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    In interviews, the interviewee often begins answering with 'I' and then drifts to 'you'.
    Is that second person?
     
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    it's just 'conversation'! ;-)
     
  18. Scarecrow
    Offline

    Scarecrow Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR

    Ah, yes. Also alike to the "choose your own adventure" stories like Goosebumps and others used to do.

    To the question of what "you" means in a blog, as long as it's non-fiction it would refer to the reader.
     

Share This Page