what’s expected of you. [You = him?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stenka25, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. stenka25 Senior Member

    South Korea, Han-gul
    Pronoun problem

    A sentence from the link below baffles me.
    As far as I can see, the bold-faced pronoun “you” seems to be “him.”

    Do you agree with me?
    If not, can you give me a reason and an example?

    Thanks in advance.

    link

    He won’t make that extra step, and that’s what I’m now trying to get him to do. To take what I tell him and move on from there with his own ideas and his own creativity. To be willing to take that next step, rather than merely be content with doing what’s expected of you.
     
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello stenka25

    "You" here is the impersonal "you"; it's the more informal version of the pronoun "one":)
     
  3. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I understand your puzzlement. This is the impersonal "you" that we sometimes use in English. It may be used when giving advice or stating a general principle.

    Example

    "You should always lock the door when leaving home." This is a precept. It is not usually considered to be addressed personally.


    In your sentence you could justifiably replace "you" with "him".

    (cross-posted with Loob)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  4. stenka25 Senior Member

    South Korea, Han-gul
    Thanks, Loob.
    Thanks, Biffo.
     
  5. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The impersonal "you", as Loob and Biffo have explained, is quite often used.

    However, in this particular extract I find it strange. Following five instances of "he/him/his", the sudden change to "you" doesn't sound at all natural to me, particularly as it's not a generalisation; it's a continuation of what the author is trying to get him to do: .to take ..., to move on ..., to be willing ..., to be content with ...

    "... what I’m now trying to get him to do. To take what I tell him and [to] move on from there with his own ideas and his own creativity. To be willing to take that next step, rather than merely [to] be content with doing what’s expected of ... [him]."

    Ws
    :)
     
  6. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    There is a point to it, I believe. Switching to the impersonal 'you' (or 'one') changes the perspective of the concluding expression. The issue is the meaning of the phrase 'what's expected' and in whose view that meaning is judged. Let us take it that 'what's expected' means the expectation of society in relation to the individual.

    If the author had written 'To be willing to take that next step, rather than merely be content with doing what’s expected of him' , then 'what's expected' would mean the expectation of society as seen through the eyes of the speaker.

    However, because the author wrote 'To be willing to take that next step, rather than merely be content with doing what’s expected of you', then 'what's expected' means the expectation of society as seen through the eyes of 'him' (because 'you' is what he could say to himself, in formulating that expectation).
     
  7. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    OK, I can just about see that. Though in that case I think I'd have written "... rather than merely be content with doing what’s expected."

    Ws:)
     
  8. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    That could be interpreted either way.
     
  9. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    True.

    Ws:)
     

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