"Amsterdam, you're raining!" First-hand experience in tweets with spatio-temporal addressees

Joske Piepers, Maria van de Groep, Hans van Halteren, Helen de Hoop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The construction [X, you are/were Y], where X is a spatio-temporal addressee, is widely attested on Dutch social media. We investigated this construction in a Twitter corpus, and found that Twitter users use the construction to tell their audience about a current or recent experience at the location addressed, while at the same time evaluating said experience. Reference to this first-hand experience is not overtly expressed, yet it is an essential interpretive aspect of the construction. The grammatical components of the construction all contribute in their own way to this interpretation. Although the use of the vocative and the second person pronoun personify the spatio-temporal addressee to a certain degree, the addressee's spatio-temporal characteristics remain crucial, as they provide the background for the reported experience. It is noticeable that particular instances of the construction, which would be blatantly ungrammatical in other contexts, are now acceptable in virtue of these spatio-temporal characteristics of the fictive addressee. This reveals the flexibility of grammar, as it shows how grammar can adapt to the possibilities and limitations of social media use, and make otherwise ungrammatical utterances, such as 'you are raining', fully comprehensible. (C) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Address
  • Construction
  • First-hand experience
  • Social media
  • Flexibility of grammar


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