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How to spell “you” or “you” in business correspondence?

Как правильно писать «Вы» или «вы»?

An official or official letter is a common type of documentation, one of the means of exchanging information. Official letters relate to the main means of establishing official, official contacts between enterprises, organizations, institutions, firms and institutions.

It all started with the fact that I wrote a letter to one of the clients - a middle-aged woman, whom we always addressed by name and patronymic. Without thinking twice, turning to her letter, I used the usual pronoun “You” (with a capital letter). However, my boss, having seen such a letter, immediately protested: “No one writes“ You ”with a capital letter, this is a mistake.” And as evidence, he cited the chapter from Kovodstvo, Artemy Lebedev, in which the famous designer claims that “you” is always written with a small letter.

I was embarrassed and outraged by this statement, because from school times I remember that when addressing an older or stranger, expressing your respect, you need to turn to him at “You” - with a big one. “You” with a small letter for me is the plural of the pronoun “you”. That is, I turn to “you” with a little one when I am writing to several people, and not to one.

In order to deal with this issue, I decided to turn to the scientific literature on the Russian language. In reference books “Dictionary of difficulties of the Russian language” D.E. Rosenthal and M.A. Telenkova and “Uppercase or lowercase?” V.V. Lopatina says that with a capital (that is, with a capital) letter, the pronoun "You" ("Your", "You", etc.) is written in such cases:

  1. when referring to one specific (individual or legal) person in official messages “Congratulations to you ...”; "We are informing you…"; "I ask you to…"; "Yours sincerely…";
  2. in personal letters to one specific person (optional spelling - the writer determines the choice, expressing or not expressing a polite or respectful attitude to the addressee), including by e-mail.

In all other cases, lowercase (with a small letter) spelling of the pronoun “you” is used:

  1. when addressing several persons in private and business correspondence: “I ask you, dear Sergey Petrovich and Ivan Vasilievich ...”; "Gentlemen, your letter ...";
  2. in newspaper publications, in advertising;
  3. in literary works (dialogue, direct speech, personal appeal): “... But let it not bother you anymore // I do not want to sadden you with anything”;
  4. when quoting;
  5. when accessing a user on a web page;
  6. if the appeal is hypothetical, then in the letter: “Dear colleague! Regarding your assumption ... ".

Interestingly, in the chapter on the “Three Rules for You,” A. Lebedev also refers to D.E. Rosenthal, who says that “a capital letter in the words you, yours, etc. it is written only when referring to one person (physical or legal), and usually in personal correspondence. ” It is also noteworthy that D.E. Rosenthal in his letter addresses the addressee to “You” with a capital letter.

Как правильно писать «Вы» или «вы»?

For me, everything became even more obvious after reading the rules of the Russian language, which linguists write about. In addition, they said that the decision on a capital or lowercase letter is made by the author of the personal letter.

To finally solve the question of writing the pronoun “you”, I decided to contact the Russian language teachers of Tomsk State University - Galina Nikolaevna Starikova (Ph.D., associate professor of the Russian language department of the Faculty of Philology of TSU) and Inna Vitalievna Tubalova (doctor of philological sciences, associate professor of the department of general Slavic -Russian linguistics and classical philology of the Faculty of Philology of TSU). They agreed that the pronoun “You” is used as a form of polite appeal to one person in a letter of an official, business character and in official documentation, where the addressee is one person, as well as in the title vocabulary Your Highness, Your Honor. In all other cases, the pronoun "you" is used. Addressing “You” to several persons or a certain audience is a gross mistake, indicating a complete misunderstanding of the issue. In addition, they noted that when referring to one person in business correspondence, the norm is variable, that is, you need to choose yourself.

Nevertheless, in the modern business environment, and especially in the field of digital and IT, it was believed that contacting you with a regular email is a bad tone that expresses excessive pathos. So, in the “Textbook for managers in digital” by the famous Russian designer Oleg Chulakov, I again came across the same statement: “The pronoun“ you ”is written with a lowercase in all cases. Excessive pathos to anything. " The editorial standards of Tinkoff Magazine also briefly and clearly say: "We write" you "and" your ", that is, with a lowercase."

One of the possible explanations for this spelling of the pronoun “you” may be that the field of design, digital, IT - these are areas that have begun to develop and are greatly influenced by Western countries whose main communication language is English. In English, there is no division into the polite "you" and "you", there everyone refers to each other simply "you". “You” is never capitalized in the middle of a sentence. That is why, perhaps, among designers and developers, the use of the Russian equivalent to the English “you” - “you” or “you” has become widespread.

Thus, to write "you" with a capital or small letter in a business letter is the choice of the writer. In my opinion, “You” is not an excessive pathos and bad manners, but a manifestation of respect for the interlocutor and maintaining a certain distance, which are necessary in business correspondence.