general statements or suggestions

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Rizan

Senior Member
India-Hindi/Urdu
Consider these sentences, please:

a) These are a few exercise tips that you can give to anyone.

b) You can use subscription-manager to assign subscriptions.

Are a) and b) general statements of possibility? For example:

a1) These are a few exercise tips that people sometimes give. ( here, I think, 'you'='one', a general subject)

b1) People sometimes use subscription-manager to assign subscriptions. ('you'='one')


OR

Are they suggestions? For example:

a2) These are a few exercise tips that you can give to anyone. (can=will be able to); ('you'='You', a specific subject)

b2) You can use subscription-manager to assign subscriptions. (can=will be able to); ('you='You', a specific subject)
 
Last edited:
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can't tell whether "you" means "you, the reader," or "one/people in general", but that is not usually a problem.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It’s probably just context specific.

    I think the distinction you are suggesting is nor a difference that would really cause a problem in real exchanges.
     

    Rizan

    Senior Member
    India-Hindi/Urdu
    So both interpretations are possible. Right? Also, is it alright to write suggestions in terms of ability(can=will be able to) instead of possibility? Because, as far as I know 'suggestions' are a possible course of action.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "You" can cause misunderstandings occasionally, even for native speakers. If you make a general observation that "you shouldn't do this or that", the other person may think you are talking about them personally. It's happened to me, a few times.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    "You" can cause misunderstandings occasionally, even for native speakers. If you make a general observation that "you shouldn't do this or that", the other person may think you are talking about them personally. It's happened to me, a few times.
    True. One might try to adopt a more general pronoun!
     

    Rizan

    Senior Member
    India-Hindi/Urdu
    I can't tell whether "you" means "you, the reader," or "one/people in general", but that is not usually a problem.
    That's the problem I usually face every time a writer uses can and you in a single sentence like in the OP, or while watching a You Tube video. But, this is not as big an issue as I think it is. Am I right? I think could would distinguish between the two. Right?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If there's no specific "you" in sight, then it must refer "people" in general.

    You can usually rely on the context to make it clear. :D
    If I had to translate that into a language that always distinguishes between you/one/people, I'd have to decide which meaning is more likely. Here I'd say it's intended as general advice, but if you took it as a recommendation to you personally, that is fine -- it wouldn't matter.
     

    Rizan

    Senior Member
    India-Hindi/Urdu
    If there's no specific "you" in sight, then it must refer "people" in general.

    You can usually rely on the context to make it clear. :D
    If I had to translate that into a language that always distinguishes between you/one/people, I'd have to decide which meaning is more likely. Here I'd say it's intended as general advice, but if you took it as a recommendation to you personally, that is fine -- it wouldn't matter.
    Of course :D

    Thank you.
     
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