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you, you, your, you - Upper or lower case in the salutation pronouns?
[F] That in the courtesy address You, your, you is capitalized is well known. But how is it at you, you, your, you and also you, yours, yours? Nowadays you see both upper and lower case letters. Is it more polite to use capitalization here too?
[A] In this area there was actually a change in the wake of the spelling reform. Previously, it was correct to use the salutation pronouns as a courtesy you always capitalize; the familiar form of address with You, in plural your, was also to be capitalized in letters and other types of text with personal salutation (questionnaires, edicts, dedications, etc.). The latter is no longer mandatory: In the context of letters and letter-like texts such as e-mail and SMS - and only here - may however, continue to be capitalized.
In detail, the rule now looks like this:
As before, you write the salutation pronoun You, the corresponding possessive your as well as the pronoun them always large - not only in letters, but also in verbatim speech in prose, in advertisements, in questionnaires, etc .:
- Dear Ms. Schuldheiß, thank you for your letter and I am glad that you are coming to visit me.
- He said, "I can't promise you that."
- We thank you all and wish you a happy new year.
- Offers that will make you and your family happy
- Please enter your full address
Attention: The salutation pronouns in the courtesy address are to be distinguished from the pronouns in the 3rd person plural, which are written in lower case:
- We thank everyone involved and wish them a happy new year
- We ask all visitors to submit their confirmations at the reception
What is new, however, and has been the rule since 2006: The salutation pronouns you, you, you, yours, yours, yours are in lower case! But there is an exception to every rule, and letters, e-mails and text messages can still be written in capital letters. This means:
- I thank you OR You for yours OR Your dear letter!
- How are you OR To you?
- Dear Anne, you can OR You yourself OR Yours afterwards OR Warm up your food yourself?
However, this exception must also be restricted again, because in contexts other than personal salutation, i.e. if the person addressed is not personally known or belongs to an unspecific group, only the lower case is correct, for example in questionnaires, on signs and posters or in advertisements:
- Please enter your name in the first field
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In a nutshell:
- The formal salutation pronouns You, your, you are always and exclusively capitalized (attention: if the pronouns are not salutation pronouns, but pronouns in the 3rd person plural, they are of course lowercase)
- With the salutation pronouns of the personal salutation (you, you, your, you, you, you, your) lower case is always correct
- In exceptional cases, namely if the person (s) addressed are known personally and addressed directly (i.e. in letters, e-mails, SMS, etc.), capitalization may continue to be used.
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