Do you have any suggestions to clearly show that the second person pronoun is singular, not simply basing it on context? For example, one could use "you man" or "you one," but it may at times be very artificial, forced, and unnatural. I would appreciate hearing your ideas!

  • 1
    In what situation would you not be able to base it on context where an error would have consequences?
    – Jim
    Mar 23 at 8:23
  • Thou? Used to be second person singular.
    – Conrado
    Mar 23 at 8:42
  • @Jim Context may not be clear enough in situations where the context has both plural and singular subjects. So my question is for when you wanted to make it absolutely clear whom you were addressing. Mar 23 at 10:13
  • @Conrado Right, it used to be easy with thou. So I am wondering about modern ways of doing this. Mar 23 at 10:14
  • @thinkpad22 - Yes, you’ve redescribed the general setup. I’m interested to hear about a real situation that you have in mind where you’d actually need this- a “for example” ... in thinking about it I’ve decided it must be a verbal situation, because in a written situation, writing is either written to explicitly address the recipient (a letter) or it’s specifically written for a broad audience (a book, a road sign, a menu, etc).
    – Jim
    Mar 23 at 15:41

One way consists in using the pronoun "yourself" in an apposition.

  • Are you, yourself, committed to the goal of taking steps to end this situation?

There is the possibility of using a term of address.

  • You, Edward, will go to the mountain and prepare the chalet.
  • You, Mister Hill, are being congratulated by the manager.

Another way is the use of a special phrase, such as "of all …", but then something is added to the meaning; therefore, if this added meaning is relevant, there is no problem as you can kill two birds with one stone.

  • You, of all the men in the group, decided that this was the right thing to do.

  • You, alone, are responsible.

  • In Are you, yourself, committed to the goal of taking steps to end this situation?, "yourself" is not in apposition to "you" since it cannot stand in for the whole NP: we can't say *Are yourself, committed to the goal of taking steps to end this situation?
    – BillJ
    Mar 23 at 10:13
  • @BillJ I don't find this exact form using commas in CoGEL, yet there is this in it:: "subject - appositional phrase - ex: _We ourselves couldn't come." and "Anyone but you yourself would have noticed the change.". Is the addition of commas so abnormal? Moreover, I also find cases of use of the commas in the literature (4 in this page: google.com/…).
    – LPH
    Mar 23 at 16:11
  • See my first comment for the reason why it can't appositional.
    – BillJ
    Mar 23 at 16:42
  • @BillJ But the noun phrase is "you", (a pronoun can be the head of a NP), and "yourself" does stand for "you"!?
    – LPH
    Mar 23 at 16:56
  • The reflexive "yourself" is a modifier within the structure of the larger NP "you yourself". It is not appositional but is used simply for emphasis. Appositional NPs serve to identify the head noun..
    – BillJ
    Mar 23 at 17:19

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