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Say that I'm writing a mail to a single person in their quality of being a member of a well defined group (e.g., a student and their class) and I want to refer to something the group has/has not done, using a pronoun to refer to the group, because the group is clearly identified by the context.

I typically use «… you (plural) …» but it sounds artificial to me.

Any better advice?

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  • Do you mean that you follow 'you' with the word 'plural' in parentheses? Could you try 'you all'? Jun 7, 2021 at 21:47
  • Yes, I do mean that, and yes, I could try «you all». Thank you @MichaelHarvey
    – gboffi
    Jun 7, 2021 at 21:53
  • I've tried an answer, but it would be useful if you can give a complete example of a context where you use "you (plural)".
    – James K
    Jun 7, 2021 at 22:07
  • You (the group) is what I would use. Or: You (as a group) Or: All of you.
    – Lambie
    Jun 7, 2021 at 22:48

1 Answer 1

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This sounds like you are translating from a language that has a distinct word for the second person plural and uses it to express the difference between "thou" (singular) and "you-all" (plural).

English (at least standard semi-formal English) doesn't have this distinction. So it doesn't use it.

In English you would simply not use a pronoun. You would say "the class" or "your class" etc. The class as an entity can be referred to as "it" Or you would use the pronoun "you" without comment if the context really does make it clear, or if both the singular and plural are correct.

There are some alternatives, such as "you all". These are possible in some contexts.

The class is starting on the final project tomorrow. You will design a desk lamp.

The principle here is to write English, and not depend on grammatical features of your other languages.

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  • «This sounds like you are translating from a language that has a distinct word for the second person plural» — or, any other language… ;-)
    – gboffi
    Jun 9, 2021 at 9:24
  • Thou art correct. I also think thou comest from a country where you use « and » for quotations. When writing in English, one should use “ and ” instead. (In plain, standard English I would use "you" instead of thou, or one here.)
    – James K
    Jun 9, 2021 at 18:25

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