You comes from the Proto-Germanicdemonstrative base *juz-, *iwwiz from PIE *yu- (second person plural pronoun).Old English had singular, dual, and plural second-person pronouns. The dual form was lost by the twelfth century,:117 and the singular form form was lost by the early 1600s. The development is shown in the following table.:117, 120, 121
Second-person pronoun in Old English, Midde English, & Modern English
Early Modern English distinguished between the plural ye and the singular thou. As in many other European languages, English at the time had a T–V distinction, which made the plural forms more respectful and deferential; they were used to address strangers and social superiors. This distinction ultimately led to familiar thou becoming obsolete in modern English, although it persists in some English dialects.
Yourself had developed by the early 14th century, with the plural yourselves attested from 1520.
Although there is some dialectal retention of the original plural ye and the original singular thou, most English-speaking groups have lost the original forms. Because of the loss of the original singular-plural distinction, many English dialects belonging to this group have innovated new plural forms of the second person pronoun. Examples of such pronouns sometimes seen and heard include:
you guys [ju gajz~juɣajz] – United States, particularly in the Midwest, Northeast, South Florida and West Coast; Canada, Australia. Gendered usage varies; for mixed groups, "you guys" is nearly always used, though for groups consisting of only women, forms like "you girls" or "you gals" might appear instead, though sometimes "you guys" is used for a group of only women as well.
You prototypically refers to the addressee along with zero or more other persons, excluding the speaker. You is also used to refer to personified things (e.g., why won't you start? addressed to a car).
Semantically, you is both singular and plural, though syntactically it is always plural: it always takes a verb form that originally marked the word as plural, (i.e. you are, in common with we are and they are).
^ abcdeSchreier, Daniel; Trudgill, Peter; Schneider, Edgar W.; Williams, Jeffrey P., eds. (2013). The Lesser-Known Varieties of English: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN9781139487412.
^Finegan, Edward (2011). Language: Its Structure and Use. Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc p. 489. ISBN978-0495900412
^ abcdeWilliams, Jeffrey P.; Schneider, Edgar W.; Trudgill, Peter; Schreier, Daniel, eds. (2015). Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-1-107-02120-4.
^Howe, Stephen (1996). The Personal Pronouns in the Germanic Languages: A Study of Personal Morphology and Change in the Germanic Languages from the First Records to the Present Day. p. 174. Walter de Gruyter & Co. ISBN978-3110146363
^Graddol, David et al. (1996). English History, Diversity and Change. Routledge. p. 244. ISBN978-0415131186