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04

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QW 042112 “Your vs. Our”

Have you ever contemplated on whether you should use you/your or we/our in speaking and writing? It’s obvious that pronouns you/your refer to someone besides a speaker or a writer whereas pronouns we/our refer to someone including a speaker or a writer. Please consider these two sentences:

1) Why don’t you read more “real-world” online news articles for English Learning?
2) Why don’t we you read more “real-world” online news articles for English Learning?

The message 1) is targeted at English learners, beside its speaker or writer. It sounds like a suggestion, advice, or proposal. The speaker or writer distances oneself from those learners while implying that he/she already reads tons of “real-world” online news articles on a daily basis.

The message 2) is meant for English learners including its speaker or writer. It’s more like self-reflection, self-accusation, or self-admonishment. The speaker or writer is aware that he/she should read more “real-world” online news articles. Am I understood here?

I tweeted last night as follows: Let’s not stab our friends in the back. It was actually borrowed from a famous quote “True friends stab you in the front.” by Oscar Wilde. When composing the tweet, I was about to write “Let’s not stab ‘your’ friends”, but in a second, I realized “Let’s (Let us)” and “your” wont’ agree.

The thing of this is that my initial intention was more like a suggestion, and I was going to tweet as the one for others in general. At the same time, however, I wanted to use a construction “Let’s” to imply that I’m among those who need that suggestion. So I preserved “Let’s” and decided to write “our friends” in order that the object and pronoun would agree. A tweet by my friend made me recall what went through on my mind when quickly choosing between “your” and “our” last night, licking a limited version of Häagen-Dazs.

(40 minutes / 315 words)

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