We women, you men

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Anushka Athukorala

Senior Member
Sinhalese
Hello Members

The sentence below is from oxford practical English usage book.

It say "we and you can be put directly before nouns"
Eg. We women know things that you men will never understand.

Members my question is if I can use other personal pronouns like they, I, She, He in the same way or are plural nouns only used in this way.

He teacher knows how to deal with difficuilt students.
They politicans are greedy for money.
I student am very interested in learning English.
She nurse takes good care of her patients.
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    No. You have to use a demonstrative adjective: 'that teacher', 'those politicians'.

    We English speakers do not have a demonstrative adjective for first or second person. How about you Sinhalese speakers?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    You can say 'I, Anushka, am very interested in ..', or 'I, a student of language, ...' but not 'I student'.

    We can use the demonstrative to refer to refer ourselves in the third person: 'This writer takes a different view', meaning 'I, the writer, ...'
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Entangledbank,
    Thank you very much for the explanation. However I have seen in some official forms the structure of I (the name of the applicant etc)
    According to Wandle in English there are no demonstrative adjectives for the first and second person. So is this the reason why nouns are used after the first and second person.
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello GreenWhiteBlue
    Thank you very much for the corrections and explanation. Is it possible to use third person in this way? In my language we use all the first,second,third person this way but according to entangledbank we can use the first and second person this way. I would like to know your opinion and advice because I am also familiar with the second sentence with John Smith...
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Entangledbank answered your question, and my earlier answer applies to the third person: you cannot put a noun directly after a third person pronoun without making it an appositive set off by commas:

    He, the eldest person present, remembered the time before the war.
    They, men and women alike, all hated the movie.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    In English using "we" and "you" only works with a plural noun or noun phrase following. It does not work with "I" or with "you" singular.

    The appositive thing (mentioned several times, involving setting the noun off with commas or pauses) works with any article and has a slightly different meaning.

    As said several times, in English it is not possible to use third person plural, or any singular pronoun, in the same way that you use "we women" or "you men" (from the subject line).
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Greenwhiteblue
    Thank you very much for the answer. So don't we have to use commas to seperate the pronoun and the noun in second person
    as in
    We women know things you men will never understand.
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Truffula,
    Thank you very much for the explanation and it was very helpful.However we can use the first or the third person when they are separated by commas but "they have a different meaning" I dont understand that part properly so let me take the original example
    We women know things that you men will never understand.
    We, women know things that you, men will never understand.

    Is there any real difference between them I mean the meaning-wise?
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Wandle
    Thanks for confirming that it is wrong. I thought since commas were used with the first and third person that way they would go with the second person too. Like anderw said im confused why some sentences are correct with commas and some are not.maybe I will have to learn how commas are used. So can I have some help to differentiate the ones with commas from the ones without commas.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    So can I have some help to differentiate the ones with commas from the ones without commas.
    Whenever the personal pronoun is being used like a demonstrative adjective ('we men do' corresponds to 'those men do'), then there is no comma.

    Apart from that, if you put two substantives together (in apposition), you need commas. 'John, the teacher, said ...' is like 'I, a student, think ...'.
     

    andrewg927

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Other people probably will have better answers to the rules of commas but in my experience, don't use commas unless you have to. Commas and other punctuation marks are particularly helpful when you write a long sentence. With short sentences, keep to a minimum. Remember using a ton of commas does not make you look smarter.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    So the difference in meaning:

    1) I, a native speaker of English, am trying to explain to you, a non-native speaker, about how "demonstrative adjectives" differ from "substantives"

    In the case of these substantives in apposition (I'm using wandle's terms, I didn't know those terms myself before I read the post #19) the appositions can be eliminated from the sentence without losing necessary meaning.

    1a) I am trying to explain to you about how "demonstrative adjectives" differ from "substantives" (identical meaning)

    2) We native English speakers understand a lot of things about English that most of us can't fully explain.

    In the case of the demonstrative adjectives, if you leave out the noun phrase "native English speakers" it removes a lot of the meaning of the sentence. The following words are still a noun phrase that is considered to be a sort of additional definition of the pronoun; the difference of meaning is that it's the more important part rather than the less important part, basically.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    But the singular "you" is also used with a noun, especially before adjective+noun. I think the adjective in such cases is commonly negative and the construction is used to express anger, irritation, frustration, scorn, etc. (though just the day before, a great WR teacher said "You (positive adjective) human" :) to me jokingly).

    Here are some examples:
    You stupid fellow, you don't even know that eggs need to be handled carefully!
    You stubborn chit, get out from here!
    You bloody rascal, I will beat the hell out of you!
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I had forgot that usage, Englishmypassion, good addition. The usage of singular "you" as demonstrative adjective is specific to this use of namecalling :) You will notice that in all three of the examples given, it is not the subject of the sentence following it. As an interjection phrase, it could be put at the end of the sentence instead of the beginning, or at some appropriate spots in the middle:

    Get out of here, you stubborn chit!
    You don't even know, you stupid fellow, that eggs need to be handled carefully!

    Note that it would be incorrect to say:
    I will beat the hell out of you bloody rascal, or You stupid fellow don't even know how to handle eggs.

    While it would be fine to say those sentences were "you" plural:
    I will beat the hell out of you bloody rascals, or You stupid fellows don't even know how to handle eggs.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    But the singular "you" is also used with a noun, especially before adjective+noun.
    This is only used in directly addressing someone (apostrophe) as an interjection. It can be positive too: 'You beauty!' and optionally with 'you' repeated: 'You wonderful person, you!'
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Wandle
    I would like to know if using or repeating the same noun is necessary depending on the context
    You beauty, YOU are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.
    You wonderful person, YOU always help anyone.

    How about the ones below? I think they are ok as you explained I address the person directly.
    You beauty, I want to marry you.
    You wonderful person, I would like to help you.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Yes and sort of - yes the examples are grammatically correcct, sort of repeating the pronoun isn't optional ( it's optional if you mean "using the pronoun as the subject of the following sentence" or even "using the pronoun in the sentence at all") I mean... it doesn't make sense to think of it as "repeating" the pronoun.

    You can also say:

    You wonderful person, I love flowers. (if they just gave you flowers)

    or

    You idiot, keyboards are destroyed by spilling coffee on them. (if they just spilled coffee on your keyboard)

    The sentence afterward doesn't need to have "you" in it at all ... but if the sentence DOES need to have "you" in it, you need to use the word, the starting interjection won't substitute for it.

    So you couldn't say "You beauty are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen" - in that example you do need to repeat the pronoun, for it to be the subject of the sentence.
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Truffula

    Thank you very much for your excellent explanation and it cleared my doubts. So I would like to sum up
    1. when the pronoun is the subject it should be used.
    You mr. critic, YOU criticize everything I do.
    You dumb guy, YOU kept me waiting.
    2. when the pronoun is not the subject it can be dropped.
    You dumb guy, I have been waiting for you.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    "You" is still used when it's the object. As you wrote,
    "You dumb guy, I have been waiting for you.

    I am confused when you say it can be dropped and still have it there. Can you rephrase your summary perhaps?


    One extra note: I don't think "You mr. critic" would be an acceptable example, at least not to this native English speaker.
    I would require the initial comma making it an appositive and also I would require Mr. Critic to be capitalized making it a proper noun: "You, Mr. Critic," and therefore you would not need the subject-you because the initial one would be it. Though you would indeed here have an optional repetition of the subject.

    You, Mr. Critic, criticize everything I do.
    You, Mr. Critic, you criticize everything I do. (emphasis by repetition of pronoun)

    So the structure of that one is different... this must be very confusing!

    --

    Let me sum up my own understanding based on this entire thread.

    We have three possible ways to get (pronoun) (noun) such as "you" + "women" together:
    1) the case where the pronoun is acting as a "demonstrative" and is a descriptor for the noun, which makes them together a noun phrase. Only plural "you" and "we" can be used in this way.
    2) the case where the noun is being used as a descriptor for the pronoun, in this case it can be any pronoun and the noun is set off by commas and is called an appositive.
    3) the case where the pronoun is used before a noun and the combined phrase of the pronoun+noun is an interjection - this is primarily used with second person, both singular and plural.


    The combination of "you" + "women" could be used in all three of these ways.

    1a) "You women should tell the government what you want." (Context: Speech by a man in government - indicates he's speaking to the women in the audience for the speech, or to all women listening)
    1b) "What are you women up to tonight?" (Context: said by a man approaching a table full of women in a night club - he might say "you ladies" instead or "you girls" - no matter which, it's still a type 1 usage, and indicates he means the group at the table. It kind of indicates he's speaking to them because he's interested in meeting women, I think; it's clarifying he isn't using you singular to address just one of them, and avoids the more common "you guys" used for this because that can imply male although it is not always used that way)
    2a) "You, women, voted for me by a margin of 2 to 1." (Back to the speech context: he's speaking of all women who voted in this case... )
    2b) "You, women, never give me a chance." (Back to the night club - apparently the women weren't interested in conversing with this man)
    3a) "You women, you endured so much to gain equality with men" (Back to the speech - now he's using it to emphasize and interject)
    3b) "You women, you just stomp all over my feelings." (The night club man is still dejected at his rejection)
     
    Last edited:

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Wandle: thanks for explaining, I see what you mean now and agree - if your interjection (my type 3) is stand-alone rather than starting a sentence, it can have an optional repeated pronoun at the end...
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello Truffulla
    Thank you very much for your very helpful explanation with the examples and also the context in which they were used. I am sorry about the confusion.
    So to avoid confusion I removed YOU from the sentence.I will put it this way.
    Contex A tells me that if I wait at a particular place at a particular time I can meet C but A has told me the wrong time so while I am waiting to meet C I see A so the conversation is as below.
    A what are you doing?
    Me I am waiting to see C.
    A what? C is at the office right now. I said you could meet him after 5.
    Me You dumb guy, I have been waiting for C because you did tell me I could meet him at this time.so in this case YOU has not been repeated because I am addressing the person directly. Anyway I think what I thought about dropping the object is not very important matter. Anyway I need to read your answer again because it is very educative so I will get back to you if I have any questions.
     
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