In few occasions I've heard that actors and characters in tv add another 'you' when they are talking to somebody else resulting in an odd "you [insert something here] you" -sentence.

Example: Guy 1: "I finally did it!" Guy 2:"You sure did, you sly dog you!"

Questions that bother me: What is this sort of sentence/idiom/expression called and what is it for? Is it proper language or slang? What does it imply and why would you use it?

  • 1
    It is colloquial spoken English, although little used these days. It is a form of emphasis and, in this case, used in grudging (or wry) admiration. I wouldn't try to use it unless you are very sure of yourself. I think that there should be a comma before the final you.
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 16:24
  • 1
    It's emphatic repetition, as in You [are a] sly dog, you [are a sly dog], with many of the repeated elements "deleted". Or maybe not, since you can't exactly apply that rationale to He's a sly dog, him! Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 16:27
  • @FumbleFingers I would say that the correct expansion is You [are a] sly dog, you [are]. Your second example is almost there: He's a sly dog, he is!
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 16:32
  • @Mick : What I meant by my maybe not above was that we can't simply say the final element represents the surviving part of you [are] or you [are a sly dog] after deletion. That line works for you because the subject/object versions of the pronoun are identical. But not with he because you have to switch to him if you delete the final repeated verb is. Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 17:27
  • @FumbleFingers, Mick So it's not a case of you appearing in Determiner function with sly dog appearing as the nominal then, a la you bastard or we band of brothers? And then that last you is definitely not a right dislocation, right? Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


I agree with @FumbleFingers, that repeating the personal pronoun is empathic repetition. It is only slang and should be omitted from formal writing; at present and for the near future. It implies that you are putting an emphasis on the fact that this person is a sly dog, and they probably beat you at something. It can be used to vent this feeling, and it is used by some people in speech to express this.

  • That answers most of my questions. Thank you very much. I should probably refrain from using it just to be sure. Out of curiosity: is 'you [noun] you' used more in UK or US english?
    – Toteemi
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 6:37
  • @Toteemi I don't really know, because I do not hear that much UK English, but I would guess it is more common in US English. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 23:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.