Hey Y'all English Know-it-alls

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I want to talk about the word: Y'all

It's a contraction of "you" and "all". A distinctly southern/country thing.

But is it "proper" or "formal" english?

I think it's informal and grammatically incorrect. I think that "you" is both singular and plural and if you feel the need to pluralize "you" in formal writing, you should probably find a different way to say it than to add in "all", whether contracted or not. But I've been told I'm being stupid.

Am I stupid?


Y'all is an informal thing. But I don't think it's distinctly Southern. I have friends from Midwest who use it as well.

As for the plural of "you," I think it may depend on context. Would need to verify though.

I can imagine someone saying, "I would like to invite you all to dinner," or, "I would like to invite you to dinner," covering, in both instances the plural form of the word with the latter being the most grammatically correct (and formal) the former, would sit a bit less comfortable with puritans.

So, in short. You are correct in your conclusions.
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Last edited by kayb; 12-12-2012 at 07:23 PM.
I was taught in English class many, many moons ago that "you" is singular and plural on its own.
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"...just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face." ~Harry Dresden

I don't think you're being stupid, no. I agree that it's an informal term... I don't know of anyone who would disagree, but maybe that has something to do with where I live. I use y'all and "you guys" (or yinz when I want to be obnoxious) when I want to pluralize "you," but I never use it in a formal context, as a rule.

But I do kind of wish that English had some form of plural "you," like other languages. I feel like we're missing out.

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Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area
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But I do kind of wish that English had some form of plural "you," like other languages. I feel like we're missing out.
Originally Posted by SCG
Yous
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I think of y'all as being short for "all of you".

But then the question becomes is "all of you" redundant? I don't think so because "you" doesn't distinguish between individual "you", "some of you" and "most of you" and "all of you"
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I love to say yous, LISTEN YOUS

hahahahahahahaahhahahahaahahahahah
I have read some different theories on ya'll (original spelling). It came about in the 18th century after 'thou' started fading out. That is also when other variations of 'you all' started.

There are a few different terms it could have been a variation of. One being 'ye aw' which was used by Scottish and Irish immigrants. During that time it was probably considered good grammar. I don't care if it is considered good grammar now or not. It's a harmless word.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area
Originally Posted by geeky
Heh. I grew up saying "yous" so I don't think I have any room to criticize.
"...just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face." ~Harry Dresden

I'm the queen of y'all, I use it WAY too much. That being said, it's most definitely informal and I'd never use it in a formal manner of writing.
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Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area
Originally Posted by geeky
I beg to differ. It is yinz.

Yinz guys is also acceptable.
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I'm the queen of y'all, I use it WAY too much. That being said, it's most definitely informal and I'd never use it in a formal manner of writing.
Originally Posted by spring1onu

I'm the opposite, I never say y'all on the regs, unless it's for jokes. No one ever believes I'm from the south. Except at work, I like to talk like a southern belle to guests, bwahahahhahahhaha, it makes me sound very friendly, because if I talk how I want to talk I sound like april from parks and recs.

I would definitely say, it's informal, I've never heard of it being formal, ever.
I'm the queen of y'all, I use it WAY too much. That being said, it's most definitely informal and I'd never use it in a formal manner of writing.
Originally Posted by spring1onu
I was just coming back to say that. I hear it in informal or day to day conversations, everyday, but I have never seen anyone use it in formal writing. When we were in 1st and 2nd grade, some tried, but they learnt better

Yunz is also acceptable. Lol
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

Is "you all" acceptable in formal writing?
The plural form of You is still You when speaking in terms of correct grammar however in informal conversation it really doesn't matter
Is "you all" acceptable in formal writing?
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I think that in formal writing, there is almost always going to be a better way to say it. What that better way is will vary, depending on context. I say that as a northwesterner who has no accent to speak of and who has only use y'all a handful of times. Nobody says it here, except southern transplants.
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I think it is acceptable in context. For instance, if you want to be clear in an invite that you are not just inviting one person but a whole family. Or when speaking to a group, to make it clear you intend your remarks for the ENTIRE group. Also it can be used for emphasis.
"Y'all" isn't used in formal writing because it's not part of Standard English. However, it's standard for some Englishes. Its inclusion in southern lexicons comes from Scotch-Irish immigrants, who greatly influenced southern dialects in general. "Y'all" also appears in some other regions of the US, as well as in dialects of AAVE. It's also found in some places outside the US, including Alberta, Canada.
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Last edited by Eilonwy; 12-12-2012 at 09:14 PM.
Eilonwy!!! Just the person I hoped would post.

Tell me what you think of someone who uses the phrase "I seen" instead of "I saw". Is it ever acceptable?
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