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You (Pronunciations: RP and GA [ju:], Australian English and EE [jʉ:]; in unstressed syllables often [jə] or [jɪ] ) is the second person singular and plural pronoun in English.
It is descended from Old English ge or ȝe (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 du, 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 þ, so many modern instances of ye (such as in "Ye Olde Shoppe") are in fact examples of the and not of you.
Both singular and plural
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. Ironically, the fact that thou is now seen primarily in literary sources such as King James Bible (often as words from God) or Shakespeare (often in dramatic dialogs, e.g. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?") has led many modern anglophones to perceive it as more formal, not 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 you-all/y'all (primarily in the southern United States), you guys (Midwest, Northeast, West Coast, Australia), youse/youse guys (Scotland, Northern England, Australia, New Zealand, New York City region, Michigan's Upper Peninsula; also spelt without the E), and you-uns/yins (Pennsylvania, The Appalachians).  English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English, sometimes uses the word yous as the plural form of you, but more commonly uses ye or yee. Although these plurals are useful in daily speech, they are generally not found in Standard English.
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.
Forms in other European languages
English and Dutch are similar in that both lost their old second person singular forms (those relating to the word "thou"), due to the use of the second person plural form as singular formal, with the plural ultimately replacing the singular totally as the informal forms came to be viewed as impolite. Ironically, this did not happen in French, the inventor of the formal plural; it 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.
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 literally means They). Danish and Norwegian languages similarly use De. 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, as the original singular pronoun tu is more commonly used in the South, the Northeast and some rural regions, but o senhor, a senhora and their plurals are still used and always formal. In some Spanish speaking countries, the original second person singular pronoun tú has been dropped entirely, thus erasing the distinction between formal and informal addressing. 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. Portuguese has moved farther away from the original paradigm; the plural pronoun vós is gone totally in Brazil and used only in small regions of Portugal.
Time's 2006 Person of the Year
- Generic you
- ewe: an adult female sheep
- yew: a sort of tree
- U, u: the 21st letter of the alphabet, and the atomic symbol for uranium
- In 2006, you were selected as Time Magazine's Person of the Year, a nod to the democratization of Internet-based collaboration in influencing news and culture