Dutch has three forms of second person pronouns, namely u
. In the case of gij/jij
are its unstressed variants (whereas jou
is the accusative of jij
and – confusingly – u
also serves as the accusative of gij
). Corresponding possessive pronouns are uw
in its unstressed form). In Dutch, the T–V distinction is difficult as it relies mainly on (personal) status.
is the formal pronoun used in all Dutch speaking regions, whereas jij
are used as the informal personal pronouns to address someone. The choice between jij
varies from region to region. Jij
is preferred in writing in both the Netherlands and Belgium, but when speech is concerned speakers in the Netherlands tend to use jij
and Dutch-speakers in Belgium tend to use gij
. The southern part of the Netherlands (mainly Brabant) also uses gij
, but not when addressing people from outside Brabant, as the majority of the Netherlands uses jij
. Religious Dutch speakers address God using either gij
is never used.
The pronoun je
can also be used impersonally, corresponding to the English generic you. The more formal Dutch term corresponding to English generic you or one is men
In Dutch the formal personal pronoun is used for older people or for people with a higher or equal status, unless the addressed makes it clear he wants to be spoken to with the informal pronoun. Unlike for example in German, there is no defined line (in the case of German, roughly when someone passes the age of 16) in which everyone, apart from family, is addressed with the formal pronoun. A Dutch speaker might be addressed by jij
by his cousin, but u
by his children, although many people use jij
to address their parents (and jij
is sometimes even used to address grandparents).