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As a learner of English as a foreign language, I believe from what I learned that "you Chromebook" is not grammatically correct in "standard" English (as spoken in formal situations in the UK, US etc). I'm not familiar with the less prestigious dialects of English, however, and I heard that English dialects can vary greatly in grammar. Can somebody therefore give me an idea whether such a sentence is correct in any of the "nonstandard" dialects?

The context where I saw this is a Google commercial.

The title of the video is:

If you’re tired of charging, You Chromebook.

And the tagline is

If you’re tired of dying, You Chromebook.

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    If it were used as an insult, "You chromebook!" might make sense. (Assuming both parties knew what that meant.) But I can't think of any other context where it would be understandable. What is it that you're trying to express with those two words? – Jason Bassford Apr 17 at 5:55
  • At an Apple store somewhere in Africa...Me Tarzan, you Chromebook! ;) – KillingTime Apr 17 at 6:36
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    People talk to their Siri devices, pets, and plants. Talking to their computers isn’t all that far fetched. But more seriously, you should narrow your question to say what context you’re assuming. Use the edit link for this. – Lawrence Apr 17 at 7:52
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    There are dialects where non-standard pronoun are used (eg. "Where's me Chromebook") but I am not aware of one where "you" can be used like this. – user323578 Apr 17 at 9:07
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    @JasonBassford It looks like it’s meant to be used as a verb here, which is also perfectly valid English (though I’m not sure what it ought to mean). “If you’re tired of chargin, you Chromeboook; if you’re not tired of charging, go right ahead and Chromebook anyway, since no one knows what Chromebooking actually entails.” – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 17 at 12:28
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You are correct, whatever is trying to be said here, it is not standard grammar in any variety of English. But...

In a long tradition of being loose with language, the people who created the advertisement for Google are using words in a new way to make the message memorable. In short, they are attempting to verbify the noun 'Chromebook'.

To explain, the context of the video is a number of people saying "I'm dying" when using their phone, notepad, laptop, anything that traditionally runs out of battery at inopportune moments, also involving the uncomfortable ways to deal with that at the last minute. Before a meeting running through the halls, in the airport squeezing behind the seats to find a plug, unravelling messy cords.

The solution for all this dying, given at the very end of the ad, is

If you're tired of dying, You Chromebook.

This wording leads one to parse the sentence as 'You (verb)'.

Analogous sentences are:

If you don't like the heat in the kitchen, you leave.

or closer to the subject (and verbifying a noun)

If you don't know something, you google for it.

Verbifying a noun (sometimes said 'verbing a noun', using a noun in a verb position), is often seen as a solecism (an error) i standard English, but it is commonly done and is the source of lots of new terms once people get past the informality. The classic example is 'gifting' for 'to give something as a gift':

I gifted my aunt a turquoise vase, but she regifted it to my cousin".

It is very common to informally verbify a noun, but is mostly an informal method of neologism. Many (older?) people think of this as 'wrong', but then again it is very popular. On a case by case basis will any particular instance sound acceptable (usually based on how commonly it is used).

The construction here is a bit infelicitous. 'Chromebook' is an ungainly to shoehorn in as a verb. What does that really mean to 'chromebook' something, use a Chromebook? That's pretty underwhelming. I suppose they intend people to understand it as 'You buy a Chromebook to avoid dying so often'. But for me it just doesn't work, it doesn't have a natural interpretation as an action.

That explains the most appropriate interpretation of the situation "What does this really mean?" because it is not obvious at all. But to more directly answer your question, no, the advertisement is not trying to be hip by using a non-standard dialect; instead they are trying to be hip by using a non-standard pattern used by many speakers of the standard version). I don't know of any varieties of English where 'you' is used as the possessive pronoun, eg instead of 'your book', they use 'you book'. Maybe some obscure pidgin.


Two notes about the production of the ad:

  • The many times repeated sentence "I'm dying" is an attempt at humor also. They're not literally dying, losing their life, but rather 'dying' is a common metaphor for losing battery life. Older parents are calling adult children from their retirement beach and notice that they're losing power and then haha they say they're dying right before the phone call might cut out. Uncomfortable death humor.
  • The production has problems. All the 'joke' instances about dying seem to build up to a big joke about dying at the end, but instead. That dude is looking up at the woman in an uncomfortable manner while plugging in to a socket on the floor. The capital 'Y' in 'You' is out of place and misleading. A lot of these details are intended to be new and thought provoking but they're just confusing and taking away from the point of the advertisement.
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    Just shows how important context is! – user323578 Apr 17 at 12:00
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    another notable example is google is now a verb "go and google that", but that was organic not forced. – WendyG Apr 17 at 12:26
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    I would say that it is standard grammar in pretty much all varieties of English – verbing nouns is such a common and productive process in English that it doesn’t make sense to consider it non-standard. The trouble is a semantic one: in this case, the resulting verb ends up making no sense and the context doesn’t clarify what is meant. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 17 at 12:32
  • I thought many English speakers had been familiarized with this commercial by watching YouTube ads though... lol – Fred Miller Apr 17 at 14:19
  • @FredMiller I had never seen it before, and I suspect that the first commenters had never seen it either given that they didn't know the context either. – Mitch Apr 17 at 14:22
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"You Chromebook" is grammatical in all standard English dialects, as long as you accept that Chromebook is being used as a verb.

I don't know what the verb Chromebook means - I assume it means to use a Chromebook brand computer - but that doesn't make the sentence ungrammatical.

Not only is this sentence grammatical, it's relatively common to turn a brand name into a verb. Consider:

"If you need copies, you Xerox"
"If you want to have fun on the lake, you Jet Ski"
"If your back is sore, you Jacuzzi"
"If you like to go fast, you Rollerblade"
"If you don't want to walk, you Uber"
"If you need to see the person you're talking to, you Skype"
"If the photo needs to be touched up, you Photoshop it"
"If you don't have cash, you Venmo/PayPal"
"If you're tired of your toys rolling away, you yo-yo"
"If you're building a house, you Sheetrock"
"If the package needs to get there fast, you FedEx it"

And on and on and on

  • Or, at least in the UK, "If you need to clean the carpet, you Hoover it". – TripeHound Apr 17 at 14:06
  • Other brand names that have become accepted English words (sometimes with the original brand long forgotten!) include taser, heroin, bubble wrap, velcro, ouija board, breathalyzer, ping-pong, dumpster, bandaid, kleenex, styrofoam, powerpoint and frisbee. Of those, I've seen taser and breathalyse as verbs but no doubt you could also say you want to bubblewrap or velcro something and few would question the grammar. :-) – Chappo Apr 18 at 1:14
  • @Chappo, Taser is a great one, since it's not only a brand name, but also an acronym (sort of - the name comes from the book title "Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle"). But because it ends in "er" people assumed that a Taser is something that tases. – Juhasz Apr 18 at 13:39
  • @Chappo Two more I never realised they were proprietary: Klaxon and Tannoy. – TripeHound Apr 18 at 14:16

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