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But like most young people of my generation, waking up 6 am in the morning to study things you do not understand, is not an idea that appeals to me

Is my usage of 'you' in this context wrong? It sounds weird, but it doesn't sound right when I replace it with 'I' and 'We' either.

EDIT: It's wrong either way right? Is it better if I replace the whole phrase with

waking up 6 am in the morning to study incomprehensible things, is not..

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    there shouldn't be a comma after understand. As for you, who's that? Isn't it the same person referred to as me? Why do both? Stick with one. Waking up 6 am in the morning to study things I/you don't/one doesn't understand is not an idea that appeals. – John Lawler Jan 10 '14 at 22:37
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    As John points out; one doesn't understand instead of you don't understand has a greater appeal, if I may. At the end of the day it all boils down to context. – Gil Jan 10 '14 at 23:04
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    Possible duplicate of Is there a grammatical name for the third-person 'you'? – Edwin Ashworth May 22 '19 at 15:11
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The you in that sentence is called a generic or impersonal you. It is very common in English and normally isn't confusing at all. It is used for statements which have no specific person but which are generally true for everyone. It's often used for proverbs or wise statements. Some examples are:

  • Brushing your teeth is important
  • Get to the bus stop earlier if you don't want to be late
  • You don't want to miss the next episode of your favourite TV show!

The example sentence may seem odd, but it makes sense if you think of it in this way. The you in the sentence isn't really referring either to the speaker or to their listener, but is an example of a generic you. The sentence has an embedded statement inside of it. If you rephrase it this way (oh look, that was another generic you!) it will be clear how to interpret it:

"Waking up 6 am in the morning to study things you don't understand" - Like most young people of my generation that's not an idea that appeals to me

The sentence in the question is very natural and very idiomatic. Rephrasing it to avoid you will make the sentence less natural. There's no need to do that!

(But I would recommend more contractions.)

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But, like most young people of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things you do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

To trim this down a bit:

But waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things you do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

Waking up to study things you do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

The heart of the issue is the difference between "you" and "me". This particular usage isn't wrong but it is slightly awkward. A comparable example:

Finding the house where you live is difficult for me.

The reader is left wondering who "you" is. It is more clear in your sentence that "you" is "me" since people don't often speak about learning things someone else doesn't understand but it would be much less confusing if you used "I":

Waking up to study things I do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

Expanding this back into the original form:

But waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things I do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

But, like most young people of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things I do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

At this level, you could use "we" but it will have a much more drastic effect:

But, like most young people of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things we do not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

This shifts the meaning of the sentence to imply that "me" does not want to study things "my generation" does not know. I don't think this was the intended meaning, however, so I would stick with "I".

Of note, you could use "one":

But, like most young people of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things one does not understand is not an idea that appeals to me.

And "you" could mean something roughly similar to this but I recommend sticking with "I" as it is the least ambiguous.

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'But like most young people of my generation, waking up 6 am in the morning to study ... is ...'

is wrong because it coordinates the uncoordinatable: the process of waking up, and most young people of 'my' generation. A rewrite is necessary; here are two suggestions:

But like most students of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things they do not understand, John often wonders why he enrolled on his university course.

Here, 'waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things they do not understand' modifies 'most students of my generation' and gives the reason for John's dissatisfaction.

But as is true for most young people of my generation, waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things they do not understand is not an idea that would appeal to me.

Here, 'waking up at 6 am in the morning to study things they do not understand' is the subject of the main clause.

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