Indefinite Personal Pronouns

One, you and they
• We can use one or you to talk about people in general, including the speaker and the listener.

- "One cannot learn English in a day".
- When you are angry, you act less rationally.
- When one is angry, one acts less rationally.

one and you: only used in generalizations
• One and you are only used in this way in very general statements, when we are talking about ‘anyone, at any time’.

- I need somebody to help me. [a person - not any particular person]
- Can anybody help me? [it doesn't matter who it is]

People including the speaker/hearer
• One is not used for people who could not include the speaker, ‘you’ is not used for people who could not include the hearer.

- Centuries ago most people are nomads. (NOT… one/you is/are nomads – this does not include the speaker or hearer)
- One/You must read the book.

One/You as subject, object etc
• One can be a subject or object; there is a possessive one’s and a reflexive pronoun oneself.

- One’s life depends on his/her will.
- One can celebrate oneself on one’s success or achievement.
- You can’t change the world. You yourself has to change.

• 'They' is used to refer to the subject of a clause. It usually represents the ‘doers’ of the action described by the verb, and usually refers back to two or more people or things that were mentioned earlier: They is use to refer to people in general, or to refer to a group of people who are unknown or whose identity does not need to be stated. They is also sometimes used instead of the pronouns he or she to refer to an individual person whose sex is not known or mentioned:

- They say “Love is all that matters”.
- Children are so adorable. They put a smile on my face.

One and you: formality and class
• One is more formal than you. Although “you” is used in daily speech, they are generally not considered acceptable in formal writing situations.

• - You should sleep eight hours each night. (informal)
• - One should sleep eight hours each night. (formal)
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