Writing in the second person requires use of the pronouns you, your, and yours. This point of view is used to address the audience in technical writing, advertising, songs and speeches. It is different from the first person, which uses pronouns including I and me, and different from the third person, which uses pronouns such as he and she.
Here are examples of writing in second person in do-it yourself or how-to writing:
- To make lemonade, you add the juice of lemons to water and sugar.
- You need to prepare a wall before applying primer.
- When getting rid of a drain clog, first turn off the water.
- To calculate the area of a room, multiply the width by the length.
- You should use masking tape to hold a window pane in place before applying glazing compounds.
- To add oil to your car engine, unscrew the cap, place a funnel inside, and slowly add the oil.
The first person, on the other hand, would read "To make lemonade, I add the juice of lemons to water and sugar." The third person would say "To make lemonade, he or she adds..."
Advertising slogans are many times written in second person. Here are some examples:
- AMX - It's Your World. Take Control"
- Apple - Think different
- AT & T - Reach out and touch someone
- ATI Technologies - Get In the Game
- Bowers & Wilkins - Listen and You Will See
- Burger King - Have it your way
- Cadence - How Big Can You Dream?
- California Milk Processor Board - Got Milk?
- Dell Computer - Get More out of Now
- Ebay - Buy it. Sell it. Love it.
- Electronic Arts - Challenge everything
- Hallmark - When you care enough to send the very best
- Lego - Play on
- MetLife - Have you met your life today?
- Nike - Just do it
- Olympus - Your vision. Our future
- Skittles - Taste the rainbow
- Sony - Make believe
- Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages - Let your fingers do the walking
- United Airlines - Fly the friendly skies.
- Verizon Wireless - Can You Hear Me Now? Good
- Volkswagen - Think small
- XBOX 360 - Life's short, play more
Here are examples of writing in second person in song lyrics:
- "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery." Redemption Song by Bob Marley
- "You are an expert at sorry, And keeping the lines blurry" Dear John by Taylor Swift
- "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
- "You can't start a fire, Worrying 'bout your little world falling apart" Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
"Don't stop believin', Hold on to the feelin', Streetlights people" Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
Here are examples of writing in second person spoken by famous people:
- "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy
- "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
- "Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive." - Elbert Hubbard
- "Hitch your wagon to a star." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss
- "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau
All of these are examples of speaking in the second person. Review the essential elements of story writing for more on great tales new and old.