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Hey Y'all English Know-it-alls

RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Posts: 31,258Registered Users
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?
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Comments

  • kaybkayb Posts: 5,054Registered Users
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    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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  • NalliaNallia Posts: 2,979Registered Users
    I was taught in English class many, many moons ago that "you" is singular and plural on its own.
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  • SCGSCG Posts: 5,416Registered Users
    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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  • geekygeeky Posts: 4,995Registered Users
    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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  • CurlyCanadianCurlyCanadian Posts: 10,771Registered Users Curl Dabbler
    SCG wrote: »

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

    Yous ;)
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  • mad scientistmad scientist Posts: 3,530Registered Users
    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"
  • murrrcatmurrrcat Posts: 9,596Registered Users
    I love to say yous, LISTEN YOUS

    hahahahahahahaahhahahahaahahahahah
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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    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.
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  • NalliaNallia Posts: 2,979Registered Users
    geeky wrote: »
    Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area

    Heh. I grew up saying "yous" so I don't think I have any room to criticize. ;)
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  • spring1onuspring1onu Posts: 16,528Registered Users
    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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  • LAwomanLAwoman Posts: 2,949Registered Users
    geeky wrote: »
    Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area

    I beg to differ. It is yinz.

    Yinz guys is also acceptable.
  • murrrcatmurrrcat Posts: 9,596Registered Users
    spring1onu wrote: »
    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.


    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.
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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    spring1onu wrote: »
    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.

    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??

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  • RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Posts: 31,258Registered Users
    Is "you all" acceptable in formal writing?
  • CurlyCutie1394CurlyCutie1394 Posts: 348Registered Users
    The plural form of You is still You when speaking in terms of correct grammar however in informal conversation it really doesn't matter
  • mrspoppersmrspoppers Posts: 7,223Registered Users
    Is "you all" acceptable in formal writing?
    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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  • KookyCurlKookyCurl Posts: 1,980Registered Users
    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.
  • EilonwyEilonwy Posts: 12,389Registered Users
    "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.
  • RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Posts: 31,258Registered Users
    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?
  • kaybkayb Posts: 5,054Registered Users
    I seen is in no way, shape or form acceptable. It's grammatically incorrect, and is a major pet peeve of mine.

    Saying "I seen" sounds like you are missing the helping verb (have), which you are. "I have seen" is the present perfect expression, while "I had seen" is the past perfect.

    I think this may help:

    Use SAW ONLY when you are speaking or writing in the PAST TENSE and when HAS, HAVE, or HAD is NOT a part of the verb.

    I'm guessing E will explain it better.
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    "
  • KurlyKaeKurlyKae Posts: 3,413Registered Users
    geeky wrote: »
    Everyone knows that the correct plural of "you" is "youse guys". At least around certain parts of the greater NY metro area

    Geeky beat me to it. We-all from NJ/NY know that we alone speak the king's English (or is it Christie's...aak!) Why would you question it? ;) You know what you know!
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  • StarmieStarmie Posts: 6,677Registered Users Curl Dabbler
    I've never felt the need for a plural version of the word you. You is just fine as it is, I've never even thought about it.

    I say "I seen" all the time but I say it on purpose, knowing it's wrong! Sorry kayb!
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  • kaybkayb Posts: 5,054Registered Users
    The funny thing is I have never heard anyone here say it. :laughing2:

    but it a running joke on grammarly's facebook page.
    I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
    "
  • curlyarcacurlyarca Posts: 8,449Registered Users
    I don't think "you all" is necessarily bad grammar. But I don't think "these ones" is either. I think it's just more specific.

    Y'all is not wrong in the right context.

    I would not use y'all in formal writing.


    I hear "I seen" a lot now. A coworker of mine is from Ohio. I don't like it, but whatever.

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  • roseannadanaroseannadana Posts: 5,632Registered Users
    Everybody knows that it's "all ya'll" when speaking to a group! Dagnabit!

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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    It's also used in the Philippines, ya'll.

    I can not do the now common spelling. Tis unnatural.
    When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

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  • wild_sasparillawild_sasparilla Posts: 4,306Registered Users
    SCG wrote: »
    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.

    "You" actually is the plural one from back in the day, as well as the formal way to address one person. "Thou" was singular and informal. Our language started out with that feature included, but then it got phased out.
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  • wavycurly40+wavycurly40+ Posts: 2,017Registered Users
    I think y'all is so informal that it's almost irrelevant whether it's grammatically correct or not. Spoken English, especially slang, doesn't follow the same rules. And wouldn't y'all only be used in situations that are so informal that nobody cares about correct grammar, anyway, and not for formal writing or professional speaking?

    "I seen," on the other hand, makes me want to chew glass. That seems outright incorrect, rather than just a colloquialism. But it might be possible to argue otherwise, I suppose. After all, what is "correctness," anyway? We use language with particular audiences, for particular purposes. Form is important mostly because how we use language affects how our message is heard and, yes, how we are viewed and judged. In most professional situations, correct grammar is very important, and it's essential in publishing. "I seen" would never fly there, but y'all might, if it were used informally or in a tongue-in-cheek way.

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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DedachanDedachan Posts: 1,644Registered Users
    SCG wrote: »
    But I do kind of wish that English had some form of plural "you," like other languages. I feel like we're missing out.

    You're not. English grammar is wonderfully easy, and yet it is still a very rich and precise language. I can express ideas much more easily in it than in my native tongue.

    Other languages have confusing pronouns too. In German, "sie" stands for either a formal "you", "they" or "she". In French, "on" can mean a generic person, like "one" (as in "One shouldn't talk to strangers"), or it can replace nous (we). You also have to guess if you're hearing someone say elle/elles or il/ils (sing. and plural feminine and masculine pronouns, respectively) because the s is silent unless followed by a word that starts in a vowel...usually.

    Not to mention how complex verb conjugation can be and how you have to learn to distinguish between formal and informal pronouns...for instance, the rules for using tú/vosotros/vos/usted/ustedes change depending in which Spanish-speaking country you find yourself. You were wise to get rid of all that nonsense, you were!
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