1

Which subject word is more common to use in the following sentences, you or I (we)?

  1. Is there a shop where you can buy sunglasses?
  2. Is there a shop where I (we) can buy sunglasses?
  • I agree with Jasper's answer, but in all likelihood, the way I'd ask this question would be: "Is there a shop that sells sunglasses?". – rjpond Aug 31 '17 at 18:42
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If you personally want to buy sunglasses (as a singular person), "Is there a shop where I can buy sunglasses?" is appropriate in both formal and informal contexts.

Similarly, if you are part of a group of people, and one or more members of the group want to buy sunglasses, "Is there a shop where we can buy sunglasses?" is also appropriate in both formal and informal contexts.

In informal contexts, it is common to use the second person. For example, "Is there a shop where you can buy sunglasses?" is more common in my (American) experience than "Is there a shop where we can buy sunglasses?". In informal speech, this use of the second person might be more common because it is perceived to be less ego-centric than the first person. It also might be more common because it asks about what the listener knows directly (where the listener can buy sunglasses), instead of making the listener guess about where the speaker can buy sunglasses. This use of the second person assumes that both the speaker and the listener are equally capable of buying sunglasses.

In formal contexts, the second person is not used in this sort of question. Instead, one can use the third person. For example, "Is there a shop where one can buy sunglasses?"

  • Notice that the first two paragraphs of this answer are less formal than the last two paragraphs of this answer. The first two paragraphs are addressed to "you", whereas the last two paragraphs use the third person. In general, it is a good idea to keep a consistent level of formality in a document. I have deliberately broken this style rule, in order to illustrate both levels of formality. – Jasper Aug 31 '17 at 0:06
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    Note, too, that "Is there a shop where one can buy sunglasses?" is not an utterance likely to arise in formal contexts :) – StoneyB Aug 31 '17 at 0:31

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