More on Re: If you are using . . . .

Subject: More on Re: If you are using . . . .
From: The Amplified Quill <dkp -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 1995 06:19:47 GMT

_The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage_ (1989) has this to
say about "you": 1. You may have noticed that the editors of this book
have often used *you* in addressing you, the reader, directly. Our
reason for doing so is well described in this comment: 'Bernstein and
Copperud agree that the use of you to address the reader . . . conduces
to informality and directness' -- Copperud 1970. Quite a number of
commentators also remark that you can use *one* instead of *you* when
you want to be more formal, distant, and impersonal. They sensibly
warn, however, that you should be careful not to mix the formal *one*
with the more informal *you*. One pays one's money and takes one's
choice, as it were. 2. Indefinite "you": Related to the use of *you* to
address the reader directly is the use of *you* to address no one in
particular -- in indefinite reference. Such use has apparently been
something of a bugbear to college composition teachers. In Woolley &
Scott 1926, the indefinite *you* received top billing under the
"Misuses of Pronouns" heading, ranking ahead of the indefinite *they*
and the use of *it* without an antecedent. Recent college handbooks
still mention it, although its status has been downgraded . . . . More
recent writers are perhaps aware of dissatisfaction with the easy
solutions of the past, and are therefore somewhat more willing to
accept the indefinite *you*. They all stress its informality, however.
Perrin and Ebbitt 1972 says that *you* is more common than *one* in
general writing and that it is not rare even in formal writing.

Regards, Don Pierstorff

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