A sentence is said to be in ‘second person’ if the subject of the sentence is the pronoun ‘you’.
‘Second person’ refers to one of the three ‘grammatical persons’ in English. The concept of grammatical person is the distinction between whether the subject of a sentence is the speaker (or writer), the listener (or reader), or someone or something else.
If the subject of the sentence is the speaker, the sentence will use ‘I’, as in ‘I walk.’, ‘I read.’, and the sentence is said to be in ‘first person’. If the subject of the sentence is the listener, the sentence will use ‘you’, as in ‘You walk.’, ‘You read.’, and the sentence is said to be in ‘second person’. If the subject of the sentence is someone or something other than the speaker or the listener, the sentence will use ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, or the name of a person or just any noun (like ‘the book’ or ‘the table’), and the sentence is said to be in ‘third person’.
In English, whether a sentence is in first, second, or third person affects how the verb in the sentence conjugates. For example, when using the second person pronoun ‘you’, the verb ‘to walk’ just becomes ‘walk’ – ‘you walk’ – but when using the third person pronoun ‘he’, the same verb becomes ‘walks’ – ‘he walks’.
The table below shows the three different grammatical persons in English, and some of the pronouns that they correspond to.
|Person||Singular Pronouns||Plural Pronouns|
|Third Person||He, She, It||They|
When writing fiction, authors may choose to write in first, second, or third person. They will choose this based on what they want the style and tone of the work to be. The grammatical person that’s used most commonly in fiction is third person. First person writing is the next most common – particularly in recent decades. Second person writing is the least common – it’s very unusual to see fiction written in second person.← Writing FAQs