Some twitter account tweeted like this "when they release the iPhone 7 and you haven't even gotten the 6 yet "(with funny pic) enter link description here

If I tell the content of the sentence, I could say like "when the iPhone 7 is released" instead of "when they release the iPhone 7".

I'm a Japanese and Japanese tend to remove a subject when the subject is obvious or not so important in a context.

I just wonder which is natural in these two? A: when they release the iPhone 7 and you haven't even gotten the 6 yet B: when the iPhone 7 is released and you haven't even gotten the 6 yet

Does B sound weird to native English people?

  • 2
    No, it sounds fine. In English pronouns and other words can be deleted in conversation at the beginning of a sentence, if they are predictable. That's one way; another way is to delete repeated material in successive clauses or phrases. Again, this works for other words than pronouns. We do use the passive to omit the subject when it's indefinite (like This building was erected in 1977, where the subject is irrelevant or unknown). Jul 25, 2015 at 17:17
  • 1
    It doesn't sound weird, but it does lack something that the original has. These “When X [does something], and/but you [don’t even something]” memes all have a kind of passive-aggressive hostility towards someone or something—in this case ‘them’ (that is, Apple)—for doing something that's somehow unfair to you. There's a sense of you having been wronged, and leaving out the explicit reference to the one(s) who wronged you takes away some of the effect. Jul 25, 2015 at 17:21
  • For me it was hard to learn to omit subjects, especially pronouns, when I was learning Japanese. I think you just have to learn that English is less deliberately economical than Japanese. We also tend to personalize things, ascribing agency to things that would simply get dropped in Japanese or be expressed in terms of direction or relationship: kochira/sochira instead of us/you, etc.
    – Robusto
    Jul 25, 2015 at 17:58

1 Answer 1



It does not sound weird, but you should bear in mind that the active voice is preferable over the passive voice:

When Apple releases the iPhone 6

is preferable to

When the iPhone 6 is released

Also note, however, that the colloquial "they" in your example A makes it informal and, in the context of formal writing, makes it inferior to example B, even though it is in the active voice.

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