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When is it in spelling that the personal pronoun 'you' should be written with capital Y?

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closed as off-topic by MετάEd, p.s.w.g, choster, Matt Эллен, Kristina Lopez Jul 26 '13 at 18:22

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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The only personal pronoun in English which can be written with a capital letter is I. In fact that's always capitalised.

Every other pronoun is always written with a minuscule initial (unless it's at the start of a sentence or some other location where normal rules require a capital).

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You is always capitalized at the start of a sentence.

You is often capitalized when referring to God.

The practice of capitalizing pronouns referring to God originated at a time when pronouns referring to kings were capitalized. This practice has continued in the case of God up to the present day, but not consistently. The New American Standard Bible, for example, capitalizes all pronouns referring to deity,¹ but other contemporary Bibles do not.² Chicago Manual style does not capitalize pronouns referring to deity.³

Elsewhere, you is normally not capitalized.

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+1 for making the point that it's capitalised "You" when addressing "God" –  FumbleFingers Apr 28 '13 at 20:03
    
-1 for making the point that it's capitalised "You" when addressing God. That just isn't done any more. –  St John of the Cross Apr 28 '13 at 22:21
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@StJohnoftheCross I'm willing to adjust the answer to reflect new facts. Comparing the past, say, few decades, to earlier time periods, how much less prevalent is the capitalization of "you" when addressing God? Do you have any evidence to back up your claim? –  MετάEd Apr 29 '13 at 3:08
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Official English-language liturgies which do not capitalise You include ECUSA Book of Common Prayer (1970); RC-USA Book of Divine Worship (1983/2003); Church of England BCP (1662/1928), ASB (1980), Common Worship (2000); RC Missal (1970/2010) Breviary (1970). Most versions of the Bible do not capitalise You (although some do, and some revert to archaic thou for God). It seems to be 19th-century hymnwriters who capitalised Thou and that has continued into some contemporary style. But it's definitely not mainstream. –  St John of the Cross Apr 29 '13 at 7:29
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On the other hand, the NASB (New American Standard Bible) follows the rule that "personal pronouns are capitalized when pertaining to Deity". I will edit the answer to reflect that there are differences of style in this area. –  MετάEd Apr 29 '13 at 14:13
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As far as I know, only at the beginning of a sentence. Elsewhere in a sentence, the Y is lower case, y.

You may come and go as you please.

He told me, "You may come and go as you please."

I told you that you could come and go as you please, didn't I?

He has no idea that I came and went as I pleased; you do, however.

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Contracts sometimes capitalize You when referring to a signatory to the contract:

Any time you see a capitalized word in a contract, it indicates that for the purposes of the contract, that capitalized term has a specific definition. You can find that definition where the capitalized term first appears in the contract, usually in quotes.

However, outside of specialized contexts like law and theology, you don't generally capitalize you in modern English.

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