RE: Grammar Q

Subject: RE: Grammar Q
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 13:22:19 -0700

Lauren wrote:

> Although some grammarians here refer to the "second-person
> imperative,"
> absence of an explicit "person" can be interpreted as first,
> second, or third person, since *no* person is even referenced. <snip>

This really isn't all that complicated.

First Person: the person speaking
Second Person: the person spoken to
Third Person: someone else

In a rational (non-arbitrary) universe, those are the only three
possibilities, and everything you say or write is in one of the three

> I don't interpret imperative writing as second-person
> focused, which would mean that the document was written for
> me, the reader. <snip>

Aren't all documents written for the reader? Some reader? Even if you
write for your own amusement, that amusement comes when you later read
it, right?

The fact that maybe you're not the intended audience doesn't change the
fact that the document _addresses_ its intended audience. And that's the
person _spoken_to_ -- the Second Person.

<shrug /> You're free, of course, like Humpty Dumpty, to persist with
your own unique interpretation. Just as I'm free to point out that it's
wrong. :-)

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it
means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

"'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many
different things.'"

Happy weekend!

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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RE: Grammar Q: From: Lauren

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