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5. Personal Pronouns The mode of address needs to be given more attention in studying advertising. Adver- tisers aim to create a relationship between the addressees and themselves and the rela- tionship is more complicated than it appears

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5. Personal Pronouns

The mode of address needs to be given

more attention in studying advertising. Adver-

tisers aim to create a relationship between

the addressees and themselves and the rela-

tionship is more complicated than it appears

at first glance. Advertisers are, in fact, addres-

sing an implied readership based on what ad-

vertisers believe we are like or, more impor-

tantly, would like to be. This can be described

diagrammatically:Real Writer ---- Implied

writer ----Text ---- Implied Reader----Real


Reader / Copywriter ---- Narrator ----Text----

Assumption made about us ---- Real Person

(Ronald Carter, 1997:199)

The ‘real writer’ is the copywriter, although

in the advertisement the‘narrator’ will be mas-

querading as the text producer. The advertise-

ment is addressed to an ‘implied reader’ whose

characteristics may be expressed in the adver-

tisement. These characteristics may or may not

coincide with the characteristics of the ‘real rea-

der’. Advertisers use pronominal forms to ad-

dress, through the narrator, the actual writer

while directing their text at the implied reader.


In the similar field, for the modes of address,

Guy Cook notes (1992:155) that advertisers

favor the use of pronouns and tend to use

them in particular ways. “We” is the manufac-

turer, “I” is often the advisor, the expert and

the relater of experiences and motives leading

to purchase of the product, “he/she” is very

often the person who did not use the product.

“You” can, however, refer to many people

simultaneously, for example, the advertisers

can directtheir message at certain groups


to the exclusion of others. They can create

an informal and friendly relationship which

is more detached in consumers’ mind.

The copywriter widely employs personal

pronouns in English advertisements. Just as

Merril De Voe put it long ago (1956), ‘ Most

valuable are names of people and personal

pronouns that enter upon people. All first and

second personal pronouns are personal, but

your copy should be made up predominantly

of the latter. Usually the pronoun you, should

occur with the greatest frequency’. In most


cases, you andwe and their possessive and

objective forms are utilized. Sometimes the

third-person pronouns he, she, and they and

their possessive and objective forms are em-

ployed. Personal pronouns carry important

meanings in advertisements. As the second-

person pronoun, you is most frequently used

in English advertisements, it is natural that its

other forms your, and yourself should turn up

in the context. Let’s first look at some exam-

ples involvingyou, your andyourself.


The Elegant Continental Tea and

  • Coffee Maker Is YoursFree When
  • You Choose to Purchase Johan Strauss
  • Stylishly designed, you will find the slim,
  • classic lines of this continental tea and coffee
  • maker---known as a Cafetiere ---will set the
  • mood for a relaxing break at any time of the
  • day. The easy-to-use Cafetiere will give you
  • the ideal opportunity for indulging yourself
  • with delicious tea and coffee whileyou soak
  • up the music of Strauss…The perfect match.20

(2) … All it takes to get a better picture is

a better videotape. To enjoy a good picture

these days you need more than a good screen.

You need a videotape designed to bring out

the best in all the video equipment yourown.

Youneed a videotape that delivers crisp colors

and clear sounds. You need a videotape that

looks every bit as vivid on extended playing

time as it does on standard. You need a video-

tape so technologically advanced that it can

keep yourpicture perfect even after hundreds of replays.


In short, you need Fuji video- tape. Because

if you want to improve your picture, all you

really have to do is improve your video tape.



Knowledge is power.

The strength of your management informa-

tion system shapes your business future.

Is your accounting software designed for

the way you work?

Can that software deliver the quality of

management information that lets you plan

and control your business?


Omicron’s DOS, Unix and Xenix Power

Products have been molded to work for your


More than 6,000 ‘Power’ users have turned to Omicron’s power and flexibility.

Find out why, call us today.

In many advertisements you is repeatedly

used. From the examples quoted above, it is

easy to see that through the use of you,your,

yours and yourself, the advertiser is communi-

cating or talking directly to you, which refers to

any reader or audience. It sounds as if he or she


is putting across messages or giving desirable

advice to you in front of your face. In example

(1), the advertiser describes the appearance

and ideal functions of Cafetiere, a continental

tea and coffee maker, as if face to face with

you. In fact, the advertiser is creating a char-

ming image of his product, which is fascina-

ting and stimulating to you through the use of

you, yours and yourself. In example (2), the ad-

vertiser actually makes much effort to persuade

you to buy Fuji videotape. It is to be noted that

in this example, many reasons are given


to suggest you possess Fuji videotape as

early as possible. From this example, we

cansee that the advertiser makes full use

of repetition: here you need is repeated six

times and videotape six times too, impacting

people’s nerves strongly and repeatedly.

Naturally, the most impressive are the two

phrases: you need and videotape. They form

a sentence with a clear meaning: you need

a videotape. Example (3) is an advertisement

of the accounting software --- Omicron’s DOS.

Here, the advertiser aims to persuade you to buy


this kind of accounting software, but from

the text the advertiser seems to consider

consumers’ interests, so that the potential

consumers might take real action.

Why does the copy writer or advertiser

favor the use of you in the process of com-

posing ads? ‘Because you not only suggests

a one-to-one personal relationship, but also

implies that the advertiser can not know

whom they are reaching…The use of you is

powerful because it is slippery, not because

it picks up one person…’ (GregMyers, 1944:79).


To sell like a sales person, ads have to

address up personally, even when they

address millions of us at once.

Besides you, we is the second most

common personal pronoun in English adver-

tisements. Since we often appears in ads,our,

oursand ourselves naturally emerge in the

context. We has different references in diffe-

rent contexts: wemay refer to the advertiser,

or the secondary advertiser, or the sales per-

son, or the producer, or the agent, and it may

or may not include the addressee. Since you


always turns up in ads,wenaturally appears

so often. But why is wesaid to be the second

most common personal pronoun? This is

becausewe is sometimes omitted or implied

or need not be mentioned and because you

is more often required to express the neces-

sary information. It is to be noted that weis

always tricky, because it can be used in both

exclusive and inclusive senses, that is, either

including or not including the person who is

spoken to. In ads, one use produces a sense

of solidarity with the customer, the other projects


the image of the company as personal’(Greg

Myers, 1994:81). Here are two examples:

(4) Before you buy a new Skoda,

shouldn’t you read the small print?

See those little words beneath our badge?

The ones that say Volkswagen Group?

They are testimony to our partnership

with VW.

Together, we’ve spent the last three years

Challenging and questioning everything that

Skoda does.

The result of this process is the new Felica.


Like all Skodas, it’s spacious, yet, at the

sametime, economical enough to meet the

needs of a buyer who wants to make a sen-

sible choice.

Moreover, it embraces Europe’s highest

quality control and safety standards. Free

from the constraints of the cold war and with

the help of our friends at VW, our work force

have built a car that ranks alongside the best

in Europe.

But, perhaps more importantly, the whole

experience has produced a company that

ranks alongside the best in Europe.


We’ve changed the car. We’ve changed

the company.

The question is, are you open enough to

change your mind?

We’ve changed the car. Can you change

your mind ?

(5) Lately you’ve been hearing a lot of auto

companies talking about safety. And at Ford,

we’re proud to say that safety has been a part

of our heritage for years. After all, we were the

first U.S. car maker to offer safety class stan-

dard, and the first to offer a protection package

that included safety belts and padded instru-


ment panel.

Because to us, safety is more

than just the latest trend: it’s a key ingredient

in the trust we’ve built with ourcustomers over

the years.

In the above-mentioned examples, weand

its possessive form our turn up several times.

It goes without saying that we and our are used

in the exclusive sense, that is, the customers

are excluded. Through the use and repetition

ofwe and our, the advertiser, who seems to

be talking face to face with you, the reader or

the customer, is telling you what effort the

company has made and what successes


it has achieved, thus creating a wonderful

personal image of the car company. Of

course, the advertiser usually employs we

and you in the same context, where the

two sides of discourse become quite clear,

as can be seen from the examples quoted

above. However, the copy writer will prefer

using “ You attitude ” to using “Me attitude”,

because “You attitude ” rings more cordial to

consumers, and it can express readers’

needs, desires, and hopes more effectively.


Let’s observe the following examples.

  • “Me attitude”:
  • We are pleased to announce our new flight
  • schedule from Cincinnati to Philadelphia,
  • which is any hour on the hour.
  • (b) We believe this vacuum cleaner to be tech-
  • nically superior to any other on the market.
  • “You attitude”:
  • You can take a plane from Cincinnati to
  • Philadelphia any hour on the hour.
  • (b)Your house will be more beautiful because you’ll be using the most powerful, easy-to-
  • use vacuum we have ever offered.

From the above-mentioned examples,

we can come to the conclusion that “ You

attitude ” can communicate an advertising

idea more convincingly and persuade poten-

tial consumers to accept the advertiser’s pro-

motion. The first person I is sometimes used

in ad texts. As we all know, in some ads,

such as book ads, particularly in commer-

cials, products or services are advertised

through the mouths of famous people like

well-known actors and actresses, professors

and scientists. Naturally, in such cases, I is used


to bring out the personal experience and

feelings or thoughts of the customer whose

role is played by a famous person who adver-

tises the product or service. The qualities, or

properties, or advantages of the product or

service made clear by a secondary advertiser

through the use ofI are considered more objec-

tive, more powerful, and so more believable

and more reliable from the psychological point

of view. But Iis also tricky and slippery because

it can refer to different people in different contexts:


I may refer to the salesperson or stand for

an old or potential customer, or speak as

designer of a product, e.g.


Gardener, Baseball Hall-of –Fame

Gardening is an important part of my life.

I’m often out in my garden by seven.

I love the smell in the air, the early mor-

ning light.

My wife Nancy gave me a bronze plaque.

It says: “ He who plants a garden plants


That’s the way I feel.


I use Miracle-Gro, to make everything

in my garden look its best.

I learned that secret back when I was a

rookie gardener. Tom Seaver

In some advertisements what ordinary

customers or clients have said is quoted

as part of the advertisement to add force to it. e.g.

(7) WOMAN: One reason why I bought

this Eagle Summit is that I once tried to put

all of my luggage in the back of a Toyota

Tercel and it just wouldn’t fit.


OFF-CAMERA VOICE: Sounds like a bad


WOMAN: Yeah, but it’s all behind me now.

Advantage : Eagle

(8) “Hi , my name’s Messy Marvin.

I got that name because no matter how

hard I tried, my room and my clothes were

always messy. But then one day, Mom

brought home thick, rich, yummy Hershey’s

Syrup in the no mess squeeze bottle. And

before I knew it, I was making the best cho-

colate milk I’d ever had. But I wasn’t making


a mess. It’s fun, too. I just pull the cap and

squeeze. Nothing drips, nothing spills.

Now Mom’s happy and so am I.

My room and my clothes are still a mess,

but at least there’s hope.

In Example (8), part of the original ad is quoted

above----the advertiser has quoted what the

woman has said. In fact, what she has said

is linked to the advantages the Eagle offers,

with the use of the first person pronoun I, the

advert becomes much more persuasive and

convincing as well as much more reliable and


attractive than if presented by the adver-

tiser himself. Example (9) is an advertise-

ment of Hershey’s Syrup, which is targeting

at the children from six to eleven years old,

so the advertiser chooses this boy as a spokes-

person. Once the boy, Messy Marvin, appears,

he is loved and trusted by consumers, because

many families have such a boy who always

makes his room and his clothes messy, so

what he says will be reliable for potential

consumers. It is reported that a lovely and likable


spokesperson can increase the number

of positive cognitive responses to the

commercial. It is not difficult to find that

ads set up relationships with readers or

customers by means of use of personal

pronouns. Therefore, appropriate applica-

tionof personal pronouns plays an important

role in bringing about successful adverts.