It's you who <has/ have> to do it

Pedro y La Torre

Senior Member
English (Ireland)
Hello,

I'm sure the answer to this is extremely easy but it's wrecking my brain at the moment. I was translating something from French to English for my girlfriend earlier and I came upon the phrase < French deleted>, literally "it's you who have to do it".

Why then do we say has instead of have here being that you is the second person pronoun?
 
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, we don't all. I would still say 'have', as well as 'I who am not worthy', where the 'who' inherits first person from its antecedent. But in Present-day English this is such a rare construction that native speakers don't acquire it. They have to guess as adults when it comes up. The grammar of the pronoun 'who' has changed for many people so that it inherits number but not person from its antecedent: it now has (for them) a fixed third-person number (thus 'you who has', 'I who is').
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Well, we don't all. I would still say 'have', as well as 'I who am not worthy', where the 'who' inherits first person from its antecedent. But in Present-day English this is such a rare construction that native speakers don't acquire it. They have to guess as adults when it comes up. The grammar of the pronoun 'who' has changed for many people so that it inherits number but not person from its antecedent: it now has (for them) a fixed third-person number (thus 'you who has', 'I who is').

    Interesting. Thanks to both of you for your answers.
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's a cleft sentence.
    A cleft "it" is followed by a singular verb - third person if it makes a difference :)

    You have to do it.
    It is you who has to do it.

    Have a look at previous threads about cleft sentence for more.

    In some cases the consequence of following this pattern is a sentence that sounds really odd, and different people have different thresholds for "odd".
    I don't have any problem with "It is you who has to do it."
    I would choke, somewhat, over "It is I who is not worthy."
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's a cleft sentence.
    A cleft "it" is followed by a singular verb - third person if it makes a difference :)
    Erm ... Not if what comes after the it is/it's is plural: It's panjandrums who have to do it.

    I would choke, somewhat, over "It is I who is not worthy."
    So would I. But I'd have no difficulty with "it's me who's not worthy";)

    AFTERTHOUGHT. Pondering on the register difference inherent in that last comment, I've realised that I probably would say it's you who have to do it and it's you who's got to do it. Again, different registers.
     
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    AFTERTHOUGHT. Pondering on the register difference inherent in that last comment, I've realised that I probably would say both it's you who have to do it, and it's you who's got to do it. Again, different registers.

    So, usage has made "..who has to do it" current but the you have form remains correct (and in some cases still used). Is that fair to say?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I suppose so, Pedro:D.

    Certainly, it was normal in the past to conjugate the verb in the relative clause: Our Father, who art in heaven.


    Why am I dancing round the kitchen singing ♫ I, I who have nothing...?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    But in Present-day English this is such a rare construction that native speakers don't acquire it. They have to guess as adults when it comes up.

    Agreed. This is one of those hazy areas for many people. I have to stop and think about it when writing.

    The grammar of the pronoun 'who' has changed for many people so that it inherits number but not person from its antecedent: it now has (for them) a fixed third-person number (thus 'you who has', 'I who is').

    It's something like that for me, but that's not quite it.

    "It is you who has to deal with this problem." Acceptable when spoken, not when written

    "It is we/they who has to deal with this problem." I would never use either


    I don't think it's as universal as "who" always taking third person. The confusion seems to be only with "you" and "I" in the singular, as far as I can tell.

    If I were writing it I would write, "It is you who have to deal with this problem."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Sorry, cancel my last post please.
    It arose from a principle recalled in a hurry and somewhat mis-applied.
    Panj, I really think you shouldn't have cancelled your last post - there does seem to be something special about cleft sentences.

    In the Shirley Bassey song (Tom Jones? - pah!) it would, I think, have been impossible to substitute a third person singular: I, I who has nothing - no way, nohow:mad:. And, just as importantly, Me, me who has nothing / Me, me who's got nothing would sound pretty dire, too.

    But if you cleft it ... both It is I who have nothing (posh/formal) and
    It's me that's got nothing (informal) sound OK to me {I know you and Pedro aren't 'got' users so you may make different distinctions}.

    I believe you should remove the strikeouts!
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "It is you who has to deal with this problem." Acceptable when spoken, not when written

    "It is we/they who has to deal with this problem." I would never use either
    I think that's what El Tango meant when he said
    The grammar of the pronoun 'who' has changed for many people so that it inherits number but not person from its antecedent
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    If I were writing it I would write, "It is you who have to deal with this problem."

    Funny, for me this sounds very strange (which is why I asked the question). I would always say, and write, it is you who has to deal with this problem (but it's they who have to deal with it).

    I think the only certain thing in this conversation is that English grammar is a minefield. :)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think that's what El Tango meant when he said

    Ah! I got it on the second time around. Thanks. I see. So singular takes "has" and plural takes "have" for many people. That makes sense.

    For me it's easier to see with "to be":

    It is I who am tired.
    It is you who are tired.
    It is she who is tired.

    I wouldn't probably speak most of these but if I were writing it, I would write it as above. I wonder if many people would say:

    It's I/me who is tired. (This sounds familiar, particularly with "me")
    It is you who is tired. (This doesn't sound familiar)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah! I got it on the second time around. Thanks. I see. So singular takes "has" and plural takes "have" for many people. That makes sense.

    For me it's easier to see with "to be":

    It is I who am tired.
    It is you who are tired.
    It is she who is tired.

    I wouldn't probably speak most of these but if I were writing it, I would write it as above. I wonder if many people would say:

    It's I/me who is tired. (This sounds familiar, particularly with "me")
    It is you who is tired. (This doesn't sound familiar)
    Good point, James - it is easier to see the patterns with "be". Here are my reactions to the cleft-sentence version:

    Formal
    It is I who am tired.
    It is you who are tired.
    It is she who is tired.
    It is we who are tired.
    It is you who are tired.
    It is they who are tired.


    Informal
    It's me that's tired.
    It's you that's tired.
    It's her that's tired.
    It's us that are tired.
    It's you that are tired.
    It's them that are tired

    I'm intrigued to note that, informally, I distinguish between you-singular and you-plural...
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Loob: you certainly distinguish between singular and plural 'you', as we all do: look at reflexives: You washed yourself/yourselves. The plural marking is still in the pronoun, just not marked on the word 'you'.

    So in 'we who have', 'they who have' the relative pronoun inherits number, and the verb agrees accordingly. In plural 'you who have' it does also. What isn't inherited for most people (?) is person - singular 'I', 'you' just transmit number to the relative, which then causes default 3sg [third person singular] agreement 'is', 'has'.
     
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I'm intrigued to note that, informally, I distinguish between you-singular and you-plural...

    Good point. This usage is even more marked in my case. In Ireland, many, if not the majority of people, still use the pronoun ye (along with the colloquial youse) to distinguish the singular and plural you.

    Therefore, for me, it's always it's you who has to do it (singular) but "..ye who have to do it".

    I believe that's the reason why "..you who have to do it" sounds so strange to my ears :)

    Edit: I should mention that some haughty types in Ireland view the usage of ye/youse as evidence that you're from a lower socio-economic class and/or uneducated - it's not. I have heard many highly educated people using the two forms, and I for one regulary employ youse (less so ye) in spoken discourse as it's a much more precise way of referring to you in the plural.
     
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