• They understand the question as using the "generic you", which is 'the pronoun you in its use in referring to an unspecified person, as opposed to its use as the second person pronoun.' Source: - Further information: - - - 'Disambiguating Between Generic and Referential You in Dialog':
    • Keble Bolly-Jocksford
      What is the "generic you"? I do not recognise or understand it. The word "you" is a PERSONAL pronoun and it does not mean an unspecified person. There is nothing "opposed" to its use as the second person pronoun for the plain and simple reason that it IS the second person pronoun and nothing else. In other words, we should not use the word "you" in a generic sense and people who do that are leaving themselves open to misunderstanding. What schools taught the usage of this "generic you" anyway? It wasn't considered standard English education when I was in school back in the 1970s.
    • iwnit
      @Keble Bolly-Jocksford: thank you for your feedback. Could it be that you are British? Maybe the "generic you" is just an American thing. One of the authors of the last reference that I gave comes from the 'Department of Linguistics, Stanford University'. I also suspect that it has to do with descriptive grammar, not with prescriptive grammar. See also this explanation about prescriptive and descriptive grammar:
    • Keble Bolly-Jocksford
      Yes, I am British. However, I do watch a lot of American movies and I can't say I've noticed a tendency to use the word "you" in a "generic" context. From now on I'll keep my ears open. Even if they do say that in America, it still doesn't make much logical sense based on the science of linguistics, does it, iwnit?
  • "Can you" is ambiguous, and often really means "Can one." But I usually answer with One can, you can, or I can depending on what information the question is really wanting.
    • Keble Bolly-Jocksford
      "Can you" is not ambiguous and it does not mean the same thing as "Can one". The two phrases are not interchangeable.
  • I don't know. Why do so many people type "there" instead of "their"? Your guess is as good as mine.

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