From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject United States (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject United States, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of topics relating to the United States of America on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the ongoing discussions.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Appalachia (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is part of WikiProject Appalachia, a WikiProject dedicated to developing articles concerning Appalachia and the Appalachian Mountains. If you would like to participate, go to the project page to see a list of related articles needing attention.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality scale.


The article is poor because it does not do an adequate job of defining y'all in terms of meaning or usage. I'm not going to attempt to do that here but just make some comments.

In most of the places where it is used y'all is the missing second person plural pronoun that standard English does not have. It is mostly used in informal speech in the American states in and bordering the old Confederacy.

In parts of Texas, by experience, West Texas, y'all is used as a polite form of singular you. I'm from Arkansas and when I go into a store in West Texas and the salesclerk greets me, "Can I help, y'all?" I look around to see who came in with me. This usage is rare or nonexistent in other parts of the American South where y'all is always plural in meaning, but I have heard this polite singular y'all in California. The polite singular y'all is ubiquitous in much of West Texas, to the point that sometimes people use y'uns for the plural!

One of the problems with this topic is finding reliable documented research. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Halfelven (talkcontribs) 15:33, 29 November 2012 (UTC)


-This is my first wikipedia post and I don't know the clubhouse rules. I am from New Orleans, and we say the word constantly. I don't see it mentioned anywhere that yall is an adjective. For instance, "I got yall money right here." You can even have a double yall. A waitress might say "I'll go get yall yall drinks." The first yall is a pronoun, the second yall is an adjective. Also, yall can meld with the word before it to make something new. If I walk into a room with friends, I might say "Chall doin?" What I mean is "What are yall doing?" but the "are" is naturally omitted from speech so you are left with "What yall doing?" The "Wha" is dropped and the "t" becomes "ch" and is added to the beginning of "yall", eliminating a lot of syllables. Fairly common where I'm from. 01:39, 19 February 2007 (UTC)Wikirookie

—Umm... this page definitely needs some citations or something, because it's not very believable, especially the claims about it being very widespread and acceptable in formal conversations. It definitely is a regional thing, but I haven't heard a "y'all" in a long time... I dunno, it just seems that this page needs some reputable research to back up these claims. --Nichenbach 22:47, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

---I "dunno" must not be an acceptable contraction of "I don't know" then, if y'all is not acceptable in replacement of "you all" ;) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:15, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

"It is notable that in Standard English there is no single word to represent the second-person plural pronoun." excuse me, what about 'you'?? Bridesmill 19:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Possibly merge with and redirect to English grammar (see footnote 1). 07:43, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'm redirecting this to plural of you, Steve.

Reply to OP: Actually, "y'all" is most definitely not an adjective. In your waitress example, the second "y'all" is a possessive pronoun and the first "y'all" is a personal pronoun. In other places (such as NC and VA, for instance) you would hear "y'all's" in the possessive meaning. So translated to standard English the waitress is saying: "I'll go get you your drinks". No adjectives there -- just different pronouns. (talk) 00:38, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Use of Y'all in Texas[edit]

This is purly anecdotal. I'm not from Texas, but I live there now. I hear "Y'ALL" often used as the singular second person pronoun and I had always thought it was only used in the plural. For the plural second person pronoun, I often hear, "Y'ALL" used as one might expect, but I was also surprised to hear "ALL Y'ALL" used plural in situations when the plural is important and "Y'ALL" might be mistaken for being singular. 15:37, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

(Reply from TXFirebear: 16 Nov. 2005)

This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to address in the expanded definition of "y'all." Yes, people will use "y'all" as a singular pronoun in highly confusing situations where the distinction between singular and plural might drastically change grammatical meaning. Such a confusion between singular and plural second-person is sometimes being skillfully exploited by a Southern (USA) dialect speaker. This forced and purposefull ambiguity of number is similar, I theorize, to the ambiguity surrounding "you" as a distinct formal pronoun (when used in the singular sense). My best, albeit, unsolicited, advice for anyone dealing with a speaker who uses "y'all" in a questionable context such as, "Y'all are goin', ain't ya'?" is to nail the speaker down as to the number of people expected "to go."
Though "y'all" implies plurality, the need for informality (or the lack of care or understanding of different levels of diction) and the inevitible exploitation of ambiguity for financial gain seem to converge on this simple, stupid word I love so much: "y'all."

Favorite quote from Frank L. Whitington (56+ year Dallas, Texas resident): "Listen, y'all, we don't say, 'y'all.'"

In Louisiana, just across the Texas border, the only time y'all could be confused for being singular (in my experience) is when someone is speaking to someone as a representative a group. For example, if I see an old friend at the grocery store, I might ask, "How are y'all doin'?" The implication is "How are you and your family doing?" Likewise, when I check out at the same store, I might say to the teller, "Y'all need to check out Aisle 12. Someone spilled some orange juice." Here, y'all is referring to the employee being addressed in addition to all the other employees. Using y'all to address a single individual without implying a connection to a larger group would not be idiomatic in my opinion. — BrianSmithson 19:09, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm from Texas. Y'all is used as "you all." For example: "What are you all doing?" or "What are all of you doing?" could be replaced by "What are y'all doing?", but "what are you doing?" can't be replaced with "what are y'all doing?", as that woudl simply be stupid. I request that it be edited out. --Melissia 14:16, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

I never hear y'all used in the singular. I frequently hear it used in potentially confusing situations (as BrianSmithson described above), but I don't hear it used to refer to a single person. The distinction between "y'all" and "all y'all" is not one of the cardinality of the group people being addressed, but whether the referent is as a group or as the several members. This is the distinction described in the Southern American English article (which see). As for my linguistic background: I'm from West Texas. My Dad's side is from rural North Texas, and that side has heavily influenced my dialect. (My Mom's side is from San Antonio, but tends towards General American in vocabulary if not pronunciation.) -- Piquan 21:09, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I first heard it in Texas, where the *plural* meaning made marvelous sense. Might there be some Hispanic influence? The Spanish informal first and second person plurals look remarkably similar: we -- "nosotros" = "nos" + "otros" (others) you plural -- "vosotros" = "vos" + "otros" (others) I cringe whenever I hear "y'all" as a singular. My Saxon forbears may have cringed nine centuries ago when they heard a Norman using "vous" as a singular. Hcunn (talk) 18:28, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I think y'all are misunderstanding "y'all" if you think it is ever used as a singular. I will use it sometimes with people in one on one conversation but implicitly I am referring to the other person and his family or another group not present. I have never heard it used as anything but plural. I think the notion of "y'all" as possibly singular comes from a misunderstanding of "all y'all," which simply differentiates whether you're addressing a person or a subset (and possibly others not present) or the entire group. There is no reason to have singular mentioned in this article I think it only exists in the minds of northerners. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:52, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Marskell, the "Spread" Section Seems Odd[edit]

In writing much of the original text for the "y'all" entry (originally part of "you") I was fascinated by the prospect of accurately explaining how "y'all" and "thou," while related, are at odds in meaning because of the plural vs. singular of both informal forms. Despite the odd language regarding prescriptive grammar which seems just anti-academic for its own sake while indulging in amethest lexical choices, the equating of the informal "y'all" with the formal "you" of earlier use is just INCORRECT. The logic of my remaining bits argues against this error. In a few days, after we've had time to discuss your radical revision of this entry and nullification of my own last revisions, I would like to change this error. Basically, I'm saying, "What's up? Let's get this entry right." --TXFirebear 06:24, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Insofar as "you" was once plural and "y'all" is now, equating the two is perfectly reasonable. I changed "meaning" to "grammatical number" to specify the comparison. As for "anti-academic for its own sake," how so? Grammarians and teachers don't play a prescriptivist role? It's not an accusation. Finally, as I suggested, I removed your line because it seems odd to make a statement and then subsequently deny it. Absolutely point out that usage is discouraged in other contexts by non-professionals but it appeared that the point was being treated as a strawman. Marskell 14:19, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

International Use[edit]

I think it would be worth to add a point that it is used in the UK at least, as a slightly mocking word. 'Hey y'all' is often used when greeting people in a friendly manner. In my experince, it is only used at the beginning of a conversation, people in my area prefering to refer to the 2nd person plural as either the normal 'you', or the local 'youse'. Does this happen in other areas as well? Big Moira 00:08, 11/03/2006 (GMT)

Well, from where I'm from in the Southern United States, its used pretty frequently even in serious conversation. Its a sort of subconscience thing, and nobody really thinks twice about it. Actually, its used more often than words such as 'you all' and its ilk.


I think that an important information which is missing is the IPA transcription. Can somebody provide it, please?

(Reply from jam_cpa: 22 May 2006)

Here is an IPA transcription that approximates the pronunciation I've heard throughout my life in the Southeastern US (specifically, North Carolina and Georgia):
[ j ɑ ɫ ]
I hope this helps. --Jam cpa 05:32, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


These usage differences are generally cited in the same manner as how people often confuse "their", "there", and "they're". Am I the only one who finds this funny?

No, I find it quite hilarious too. 23:29, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Me three. Look at the post from the fella from New Orleans for another example. (talk) 00:40, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

The Usage of Y'all[edit]

Y'all is used in all but the most formal of speech registers and in writing

Is this true? I'm from Georgia (USA), and I never use y'all in speech or writing (although I did in my earlier years). I think the sentence should be changed to.

Y'all is typically used only in informal situations, and is excluded (and even frowned upon) in formal speech and writing.

Would this change reflect a global opinion? I wouldn't want to show POV on the issue. 23:29, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

I second this change. I'm from northern Ohio, so I don't hear "y'all" much at all, but when I do hear it, it has always been in an informal manner. Maybe in some regions "y'all" is used in more formal settings, but from my experiences, it's relegated to informal conversations... and almost never in writing. I'd say go ahead and make the change. --Nichenbach 22:41, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm from Louisiana, and I've heard and seen y'all in informal and semi-formal speech and writing, but never formal. So I've made the change. Babomb 22:25, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

In the Usage section, the following "recognized property" is kind of silly:

Using y'all to refer to "an unknown potential referent," with the example, "At the sky, Alex yells 'Y'all can't beat me!' Alex is yelling at an unknown party." Would you really say he's yelling at "an unknown party"? Unknown by whom? I bet Alex knows! And can't any pronoun (except 'I') refer to an "unknown party" when yelled out at the sky? It just seems kind of strange to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:50, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Dual Pronoun?[edit]

I have seen the use of y'all for a small group and all y'all for a large group, but is y'all really used to mean only two? Quite the contrary, I have often seen the expression y'all two, meaning "the two of you" (and similarly, y'all three etc.). Sources, please? --Babomb 22:42, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

There's no way that y'all refers only to two people. The "all" in "all y'all" is used as an emphatic or to distinguish the whole group from a subgroup. --Grouse 08:42, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely incorrect! "Y'all" often refers to only two. "Both of y'all" is common. 17:14, 16 January 2015 (UTC)


Primarily due to the mass-migration of African Americans and other Southerners outside the South in the 20th century, the use of the word y'all in the United States has spread from its original regionalism, similar to the originally Northeastern use of wicked to mean very.

Saying "wicked" in this context is very much a Northeast (especially New England) regionalism. As such, I'm removing the reference from this sentence. If someone can cite evidence that it is as widely and commonly used as y'all, throughout the US, then feel free to reinsert the comparison.

-- 06:52, 15 July 2006 (UTC) Joe

While I was at the University of North Texas in 1996, a group of students made a very amusing, and strong argument against the "y'all" spelling and for "yall." It was based on the fact that "y'all" suggests that the word is a contraction whereas "yall" is the proper second person plural pronoun in the south. Regardless, many of us that graduated from that class still proudly spell it "yall" and use the example sentence from that argument "Yall can keep your dang apostrophe."

Where it is used[edit]

Be careful about how you describe where this term is used. "Y'all" has historically been used throughout the South AND the West (albeit more so in the Southwest than the Northwest). Even today this expression is still quite common in many areas of California (even suburbs of the major cities) where families have been there for generations. It is often true that inside the major cities you hear the expression less often simply because it is seen as unsophisticated. Indeed this expression is a good example of the many cases of common heritage between the South and the West where something is seen as a source of pride in the South and a source of shame in the West. I'm reminded of hearing people in San Francisco talk about those redneck cowboys in Texas as we drove past the Cow Palace. :-)

It should be stated that, in general, the use of "y'all" is slowly dying in the major urban areas of the South, and the Yankee "you guys" has made major inroads since the 70s due both to the influence of television and to the acceptance of the civil rights movement in the South (thereby erasing most of the North-South tensions). The expression is still heavily used, though, all over the South so it is hard to say what its ultimate fate is.

A couple of other points:

  • It is very true that y'all has been used as the second person singular in Texas (I don't believe this is unique to Texas but I haven't lived in other areas that use the expression enough to know for sure). This usage however has rapidly died out in the last couple of decades.
  • It is worth comparing the use of y'all in the South to "you guys" in many parts of the North. "You guys" has been an often used clause in the South for a long time. The difference has been that it was not an "expression" as it is in the North. In the North "you guys" is treated as a single word representing a neuter pronoun just like "y'all." In the south, however, "you guys" has been interpreted literally in the same way one might say "you ladies" or "you fellows" or similar things. Specifically, "you guys" would not be something one would say to a group of women or a group of small children since it would sound strange at best or offensive at worst. In recent years, of course, Southerners have begun to use the expressions interchangeably.

--Mcorazao 15:28, 11 Aug 2006 (CDT)

Confusion with other Southern words[edit]

This section is absolutely absurd. This article desperately needs references and citations. In addition to this paragraph, much of this article appears to violate WP:OR. -THB 13:38, 17 November 2006 (UTC)


I have to disagree with the article's dismissal of y'all being a contraction of you+all. Saying that you+all’s only contraction can be you'll is extremely shortsighted, especially with a language as diverse and inventive as the English language. Y'all is a contraction of you all. Trying somehow to connect y'all to the Scots-Irish ye aw is absurd. You're giving the word too much credit. It is simply an easier and faster way of saying you all, as everyone here seems to agree. And since the contraction you'll means you will, the contraction y'all was created instead. How can you apply such stringent contraction rules to a word created out of a regional dialect? Also, ya'll is an incorrect form because y'all is not short for ya all. The closest thing to a "ya" is "whatchya doing?" Having lived in Virginia and North Carolina, I have consistently heard the use of y'all my entire life. It is never formal, and it should never be used in any formal writing or speech. Really, the only time that it would ever be written out is in a note, an email to a friend, a joke, etc. Acoastal 16:14, 16 February 2007 (UTC)


Per the history channel y'all comes from the 1500's Scottish dialect of 'ye all' used to refer to a group of people. Supposedly after
the Scott-Irish came to the south it was contracted to y'all. 
 Here's the segment on the History channel website.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:15, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Y'all is a contraction of old Scottish Ye All. This is from a History Channel documentary. This needs to be corrected. Generally speaking an apostrophe replaces one letter like in can't or don't. So this seems more correct. (talk) 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Travis Smith

Sorry to step on ones toes but it has been stated for quite some time in the talk section about the origins of the word. It should be mentioned in the article somewhere. Possible making in the article with both origins. The OED does say it came from 1909 but History Channel and other sources have found letters using it going all the way back to 1737. The History Channel does nothing but find information like this for the documentaries so I do have some faith in them. The OED does as well but they might not have found these writings when they put it in the dictionary. Generally a contraction replaces one letter so thinking that Y'All is shorthand for You All doesn't make any sense. The middle English word Ye means you so it makes far more sense it came from Ye All instead of You All. It is okay to put both meanings in there instead because when one does a Google search the top articles are staying it came from Ye All and then there is Wikipedia that says other wise followed by user forums. -- (talk) 20:57, 15 April 2014 (UTC)Travis Smith — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

The ye aw explanation is present in the article in the last paragraph of the last section. Your statement "Generally a contraction replaces one letter so thinking that Y'All is shorthand for You All doesn't make any sense" ignores a very basic fact of English (and all languages for that matter) which is that it is not logical, does not try to be logical, is not consistent, and that exceptions outnumber rules by like a million to one. That it does not make sense according to generally observed rules is not a compelling argument. SQGibbon (talk) 21:08, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
SQGibbon has it completely right. The explanation wants to add is already on the page. A documentary program on The History Channel is simply not as authoritative as the OED, and a Google search certainly doesn't count for anything. And contractions can most certainly represent multiple missing letters, such as "should have" → "should've". --Bigpeteb (talk) 21:58, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Famous Quotes[edit]

I removed this section. If the quotes were ABOUT the word y'all I could understand, but these were apparently added merely because they contained the "y'all". I believe they are thus irrelevant, as the article already contains plenty of usage examples. Wikipedia is not Wikiquote. If that weren't bad enough, the quotations did not have source citations. If you disagree, reply below. -Babomb 02:03, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

That's a stretch, but fine - I don't care. Stwomack 18:38, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

The Mencken quote cited in the article...[edit]

IS RUBBISH. Unless, that is, he is humbly and strictly submitting that it is impossible for HIM to discern the plurality of the party referenced. But even THAT I find difficult to believe. Being from the South, I have heard and used the word well over the one hundred times one instance of which will allegedly be a singular usage, and I furthermore consider myself fairly linguistically astute, and I cannot imagine any instance where "y'all" could be even quasi-singular, nor any instance where an intelligent observer could not easily discern the implied plural. To refer to a single person as "y'all" would be at least as jarring in conversation as to refer to oneself as "we". If I asked my girlfriend "What do y'all wanna do?" she would most certainly reply "What the hell did you just say to me?" "Y'all" is broadly synonymous with "you guys". Could "you guys" be singular?

Moreover, if I were of the touchier sort I might take offense at the implication of Mencken's "cardinal article of faith in the South, nevertheless..." (and I wonder, does he go on to cite any examples of the "evidence" to the contrary?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ekardnam (talkcontribs) 01:44, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to have not signed the above; it was my first time editing anything on Wikipedia. Also, I admit it is a bit of a rant: I suppose I ought to concede that my experience in the matter is limited to the southeast (North-South from West Virginia to Florida, and west to Alabama (through acquaintances who most definitely speak the native dialect)). I have read the earlier post where the editor writes that they (the singular "they"-- that's for a whole other message board--) have heard the singular usage in Texas, and I will not call them a liar, but I do find it shocking. Could anyone give any context where this would occur, i.e., example sentences?Ekardnam 02:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)Ekardnam

In resonse to the above question[edit]

As a resident of Texas, it might be a little easier for me to explain. "Y'all" is in fact singular (though it can be used in both singular and plural forms). As a contraction of "you" and "all," it is used to define people as a unit just as you might say mob/crowd/group etc. These words are all used as a singular word though it is meant to imply more than one person in that unit. If someone says, "Y'all are going to the market," then y'all is not plural but instead the arrangement of the phrase is in a non-standard form of English (and therefore the subject and verb do not agree). You cannot really apply standard English forms to it since "y'all" is not a correct standard English form to begin with. It is not wrong to use it either way though, since it is a product of a dialect and used in a non-standard form. Instead, it is considered a variance in standard English. [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:55, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

we all[edit]

Surely 'we'll' expands to 'we will', right? A straw poll at my office finds no one familiar with the 'we all' usage. The sentence 'We'll go there' is read as future tense, not indicative of a groups behavior, right? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:50, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

The Controversy section[edit]

I think the Controversy section might best be removed. This isn't a page from a style guide, it's an encyclopedic article explaining actual use of a word in common speech. The only relevant question regarding the putative use of "y'all" in the singular is: is it used in the singular? The answer is "yes it is," and a useful addition would be a rough delineation of those areas where it is so used from those areas where it isn't, since (as I understand it) this usage varies. —Largo Plazo (talk) 19:15, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Is it used in the singular? Not by southerners. Not by "native speakers." Basically, no, it's not used in the singular, and your assertion that "yes it is" is... frustrating. Any word can be misunderstood and misused by those who don't understand it, but that doesn't constitute a valid usage. Kysh (talk) 04:55, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

I'm about to remove most or all of it anyway. One expects a Controversy section to discuss current controversies. An article from 1926 and an article from 1948 may shed light on the point of view 60 or 82 years ago, but as far as we have any reason to know, actual usage could have changed so much since then that they could be entirely obsolete by now. —Largo Plazo (talk) 20:13, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Don't do that--I think it's useful and appropriate. The issue comes up regularly in conversation, and people are likely to look here for some sort of answer. (talk) 00:07, 17 December 2009 (UTC)


I'd like to see someone give details about "all-y'all" (which ought to be hyphenated, no?). I'd be interested to know if (a) it's used solely for the plural or whether it, too, is ever used for the singular and (b) the extent to which the locations where it's used correspond to the locations where the meaning of "y'all" had previously drifted to include the singular. I'm feeling inclined to add a note about how it resembles the case of the French counterpart for "today", formerly "hui" (reduced from Latin "hodie", itself reduced from "hoc die" = "this day"), for which the emphatic form "au jour d'hui" ("on the day of today") evolved—and which has now become "aujourd'hui", the standard modern French word for "today". But now, one can find "au jour d'aujourd'hui", "on the day of today" or, if one analyzes it etymologically, "on the day of the day of today". Our English phrase "up above" is similarly the result of successive emphatic additions after previous ones weakened and lost their separate identity: "be" + "ufan" > "bufan"; "an" + "bufan" > "above"; and, now, "up above". (Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention) The only reason I'm not adding the note myself is that I'm not a "y'all" expert. —Largo Plazo (talk) 19:29, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

"All yall" is a "wide" plural form of yall, sometimes with a little 'uh' or 'ah' for 'of' as in "All of yall", depending on region. The 'lls' are never fully articulated, so the actual sound is somewhere between "Alluhyall" and "Awwluhyawl". I spell it "All yall". Context is everything, so I present some: Yall refers to "you fellas". As in "Where yall headed?" (Never, never, never to 'one person'. "Where yall headed" to a single southerner will get you a weird look at best). "All yall" is a -very- wide plural. As in "All yall from up north who think yall can ever refer only to a single person are -very- mistaken." Make sense? By the way, some of the confusion may come from the fact that all the objects of 'yall' don't have to be present. "How yall doing?" to a single person might refer to that person's family; ergo:
"Hey." "Oh, hey, it's you! Heard yall moved up to Altha a few years ago. How's the job?" "Oh, pretty good, pretty good. All yall doing ok back at the plant?" "Yeah, pretty good. They're talking about closing the..." etc.
"yall" is the subject's family. 'All yall' would generally indicate all the employees of the plant. ('Yall doing ok back at the plant?' , however, would indicate a more intimate social group, such as former direct co-workers.)... Anyway, that's about as plain as I can put it. I even included an example of one person addressing another where a third-party might think it was 'singular'. Remember, there is no 'singular yall'. It always refers to more than one person. Make sense? Kysh (talk) 05:39, 3 November 2010 (UTC) (Eighth generation southerner)
I agree with the above assessment. Yall is always understood as a plural, even if the other members of the group are not present. If one asks a single person "How are yall doing?" then this clearly references either the person's family (which assumes at least an acquaintance with the absent referents), circle of friends (also assuming a familiarity with some defined group), or other group defined from context. The only ambiguity is when yall could refer to different supersets for the addressee; and in this case the unstated group is clarified. "You mean my family (fraternity brothers, coworkers, etc.)?".

All o' yall (or all yall or however one spells it) is clearly illustrated to mean the entirety of a superset, whereas yall can mean some (still plural) subset of the whole. Just as the term 'we' can refer either to 'you and I' or 'they and I'; yall can (depending on context) refer to 'you and some others in the same group as you' whereas all o' yall refers to 'you and all the others in the same group as you.' Again, the only ambiguity is when the criteria for grouping is not clear to speaker and listener.

The only time I can ever imagine using yall as a singular is when I am strongly implying that the person has multiple personalities, and unless that is very much true of the addressee (and said addressee is not given to violence), I would strongly recommend against using it as a singular.--Imzogelmo (talk) 23:18, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

NO NO NO NO. Please let me break this down. It's actually quite fine a distinction.

"Y'all" is used to address a group acting as a group. "All y'all" used to address a group acting as individuals:

"I shouldn't ask y'all for advice, all y'all have been to jail."

"So y'all went to McDonald's and all y'all ordered McNuggets?"

"Y'all have really offended me. Do all y'all think I'm a criminal?"

Or clearer:

"If y'all are going to see Granny, give her my love." "If all y'all are going to see Granny, I'm just gonna call her."

In the first example, the people being addressed are likely going together. In the second, they are going separately.

I'm not making edits to this article, because I haven't made an edit in over a year that's been left alone. Wiki editors have become very bombastic and fascist. But that's how it is on this subject. Truly. I'm a native Tennessean, widely traveled, and trained in lingustics. Iamvered (talk) 17:22, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Re-entering Mencken quote[edit]

I understand that someone took offense to the Mencken quote. This would be fair, as Mencken was a known foe of all things Southern, but in this case he is mostly supporting the basic position taken by everyone else. The quote covers the controversy and adds color to the article. After all, few if any WP contributors can claim to match the brilliant prose of a Mencken. There are few good aruments for removing this quote from the article entirely. Mr. IP (talk) 16:04, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Origin and "ya'll"[edit]

The origin section says: "The ye+aw origin may be apparent in a modern-day variation of y'all whereby some put the apostrophe after the 'a' (e.g. ya'll). This suggests that y'all could be a contraction for ya all" There is a citation at the end of this paragraph, but it is unclear whether the cited source specifically addresses the question whether the "ya'll" spelling is evidence of a relationship to ye aw. Such a connection seems highly improbable, because, as the quoted language points out, the "ya'll" spelling is a "modern-day variation." One wouldn't expect a modern-day spelling to suddenly pop up as a result of a long-forgotten origin. A quick review of Google Books results for "y'all" and "ya'll" reveals a number of uses of "y'all" to represent Southern (especially Southern Black) vernacular prior to 1900, but all of the uses of "ya'll" appear to be future tense constructions -- contractions of "ya will." PubliusFL (talk) 21:41, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

a Georgian's opinion[edit]

As an inhabitant of Atlanta, I would make the following observations: (1) I have never heard it used in the signular except in the "you + others" sense. (2) I would never use it in writing myself, but then I tend to be formal in my writing style. (3) It is NOT an sign of ignorance. I had a college professor (Ph D) who occasionally used it when addressing his class, and nobody in the class considered it odd. (4) Southerners sometimes use the same construction with "who". I have heard "Who all are coming to the party?" on a number of occasions to convey that one has a number of visitors in mind. (5) By the way. "wicked" (to convey approval) may not be strictly New Englander. Don't some of the British characters in "Harry Potter" use it? Or was that imported from the U.S. along with "cool" and "okay" ? I don't hear it very much in Atlanta. CharlesTheBold (talk) 04:36, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

From North Carolina[edit]

This is the first time I've added to the conversation on Wikipedia, so I'll leave the main page edits to someone else. However, I'm - oddly enough - quite offended that "ya'll" is considered the "wrong" spelling. That seems to be enough of a controversial statement that it offends, in my mind, the neutrality of this resource. I've spelled it "ya'll" all my life, and can't help but think "y'all" is a collective effort to "make sense" of this contraction ... whether here on Wikipedia, or in publications over the years.

Yes, the arguments for "y'all" seem logical enough. But logic hardly reigns supreme when it comes to spelling. And the previous reference to linguist Michael Montgomery's claim that the word "ya'll" was influenced by the Scottish colloquialism "ye aw" is quite compelling. After all, a large swath of the South was colonized by the Scotch-Irish ... so much so that one county was renamed "Scotland County" many decades ago. (That also happens to be where my great-grandfather's great grandfather ended up, early in the 1800's, after immigrating from Scotland.)

There are plenty of examples where "ya'll" is used throughout the South, today and in the past. Perhaps it is more common in NC, SC, GA, and VA than the rest of the South ... I wouldn't know myself, having only lived primarily in North and South Carolina.

But the larger point is "ya'll" is quite common. Even if not the dominate form, then it is no less correct than "y'all," and perhaps - in many places - it is the more correct form. I can assure you, there are many who would argue that "y'all" is simply a persistent and incorrect interpretation originating from parts not in the South.

Anyway, I sure would appreciate it if ya'll could see your way to putting "ya'll" back in this entry, even if only as an alternate spelling. I reckon it'd set my mind at ease some.

Ted (talk) 05:37, 4 July 2009 (UTC) This is Bull shit

Although I disagree with you, I do feel that your argument for ya'll shows some merit. I have spent my life in Virginia and North Carolina, and I have almost never seen it spelled ya'll. Really, for every example of ya'll you can cite, I can find a hundred spelling it y'all. However, it is not like this is an official word in the English language, so I can see your argument for allowing an alternate spelling. I think ya'll can be put back in, as long as it said to be a modern variation (as mentioned somewhere else on this page) and it is said to be a minority opinion. I do completely disagree with the "ye aw" origin. I feel we are over-complicating a person's desire to not have to sound out "you all" every time they want to address a group of people. (Acoastal (talk) 23:50, 24 September 2009 (UTC))

Someone went to the Jeff Foxworthy page and changed it to y'all. Very subtle troll. (talk) 20:56, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Origin section BS: "You all" is somehow in doubt?[edit]

The "Origin" section of this article is full of uncited, O.R. doubts, alternative hypotheses, and indeed denial whether "y'all" really is derived from "you-all". What BS. What about "who-all", "what-all", "them-all" and the even-more-laughable-than-"allyall" "some-all"? Are these utterly un-related to "y'all"? -- (talk) 19:32, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

I added a couple of templates to that section. Can someone who has access to the articles cited there verify whether they actually support the contentions in that section? Specifically, it seems dubious that "ye aw" would be proposed as an alternative origin to "you all" when "ye aw" means "you all" in Scots. It seems more likely that the explanations are complementary: the Scots influence helps explain why "you all" became so common as a first person plural pronoun in the South, and "you all" contracted to "y'all." PubliusFL (talk) 19:51, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Another Georgian Opines... I spell it "ya'll" but then I was never a good speller and even in Atlanta that word was not taught in school. Nothing irritates me more than to hear some Yankee poser use "ya'll" in the singular (usually on TV or in movies). As a possessive pronoun I say "ya'll's"; perhaps in other regions it is different. "all ya'll" is really "all of ya'll" and should be used accordingly. Lastly I have always wondered why, of the several languages I speak, English alone should be deprived of a second person plural; an oversight we Southerners have corrected. —Preceding unsigned comment added by UnderC (talkcontribs) 03:54, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Y'all aren't singular[edit]

There is simply no foundation for the notion that y'all can be singular. The controversy illustrated by the Mencken quote is ridiculous, and indeed whatever evidence Mencken implies that he has is not cited. The single citation which apparently justifies the "Controversy" section is to an article by Eric Hyman, whose theoretical explanation as to how "y'all" can be something other than plural is: the "all" of "y'all" is not a plural marker, but specifies that the vocative second person--i.e."you"--is strictly meant, this having been necessitated by the supposedly confusing indefinite use of "you". His example of a supposedly singular "y'all" is a statement he overheard in a dentist's office: "I put a box of gloves on the table for y'all if you need them." He writes that the dentist was only speaking to one assistant, and that he, the author, was the only other person in earshot, and thus concludes that the referent was singular. Is it not obvious, however, that "y'all" referred to other employees not present? I think that any confused belief that one may have that one has heard "y'all" referring to a single person must be such a case--i.e. a case of a person whose grasp of the word is hazy and who is presented with a situation in which the meaning is "you, the present one to whom I speak + others not present," a usage for which there is often occasion, obviously. If I say to a single person, "What are you guys doing tonight?", what does that mean? That I am calling a single person "you guys", or that I am referring to an implied group which includes the person to whom I am speaking?

I propose the following as a guideline to the usage of "y'all": it is entirely synonymous (possible questions of register aside) with "you guys". I have heard the word "y'all" every day for twenty-four years, and cannot think of an example where this does not hold. And I am confident that there is none.

As we do not have here a single piece of direct evidence for the singular use of "y'all" (I mean an example of an unambiguously singular usage--and I have tried to demonstrate that the cited article does not constitute one; others may confirm this for themselves) I propose that the "Controversy" section be retitled with something a little less substantial, e.g. "Rumor", "Legend". Ennod2009 (talk) 21:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree with you, but apparently there is a population of people, albeit a small one, who do use y'all in the singular form. It appears that the majority of these people are from Texas, and therefore possibly some neighboring states. Having lived in the Southeast my entire life, I too have never heard it used to identify a single person. (Acoastal (talk) 23:30, 24 September 2009 (UTC))

As a Texan this sounds barbaric--"y'all" is definitely plural, at least to my mind--but I have heard it used as singular by (ignorant?) outsiders. Mencken strikes me as a very perceptive hombre. (talk) 00:00, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Having reread this page once again, I propose that we should remove the section talking about using y'all in a singular form all together. It seems that no one here has ever used it in a singular form but have only heard it used this way. As described above, this leads me to believe that they did not know the full details of the conversation when they heard it, as shown in the quote about the dentist office. Clearly the dentist was speaking to the one assistant but was including the entire staff when he used y'all. It looks like our best source for the singular usage of y'all is a non-Southerner who probably made the same mistake of believing that the speaker was only referring to one person. Also while no one here may be able to "match the prose of Mencken" as someone said earlier, it does not mean we should keep a misguided quote simply because it is well written. Unless people disagree I think we should remove the section or alter it as such as to show that y'all is not used in the singular. Obviously I will wait a while to hear feedback on this. Acoastal (talk) 15:44, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

I believe different populations in different places use similar words differently. Up north where I'm from the word is pronounced "yall" and can refer to an individual or a group of people. This usage is more common among minorities and music subcultures. Drn8 (talk) 22:11, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Contractions with other words[edit]

It's all well and good to discuss plurality and so on, but y'all're overlooking some important practical matters. I have observed statements like: "Y'all're gonna get wet if'n y' say out there much longer. Y'all'd be best off to get an umbrella" and yet you focus on the spelling of the possessive y'all. Sure, sure, "no original research" but I certainly can't be the first person to have noticed this. (talk) 16:05, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

No, you aren't. If you believe a group of people is going to the store and you ask it as a statement that they can confirm, as in "Y'all're going to the store?", then you have a double contraction. Seems right to me, but I agree with other people on this Talk page that in more formal writing I avoid y'all. GTGeek88 (talk) 03:19, 27 November 2012 (UTC)


This was removed as unsourced:

1. YALL:Singular
3: YALLS: Singular posessive
4: ALL YALLS: Plural Posessive

Is there a source to establish variants on the way y'all use y'all? ChildofMidnight (talk) 20:55, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

The unsourced material above is in line with my experience of the word, living north of Chicago. Drn8 (talk) 22:12, 29 May 2013 (UTC)


The examples under "All y'all" are exactly the same as on this page: Which came first? The article should cite that page if it came first. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:19, 15 December 2009 (UTC)


"Y'all" is unneeded. We can differentiate by:

Singular: Thou/Thee/Thy/Thine

Plural: Ye/You/Your/Yours (talk) 15:46, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

But do you? This page is certainly necessary, because the pronoun "y'all" is used far more often than the pronoun "thou" in modern English. (talk) 21:02, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
I'd love to go back to that, but people can't conjugate "thou." Every time they try to do archaic speech they mess it up. It's sad. Iamvered (talk) 17:25, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

tone and style, and sources[edit]

Somebody has expressed concerns with the tone/style of the section on "you" replacing "y'all" within a context (which I wrote). The samples I put there are indeed not academic in style; however, in Linguistics (and I think in a number of the social sciences), even in academic writing, it is often necessary to include quotations of a less-than-formal style specifically when they illustrate the very topic being discussed. IE, if we are using formal language to write about informal language, then it is necessary and justified to include quotations of informal language in order to demonstrate various points.

Second, as for sources, the two quotations which I placed are examples given to illustrate the point made; in Linguistics, this counts as providing primary sources. PN, MA Ling —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:44, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

2010.07.30: Following my above reasoning posted July 16, I just removed the notices of tone/style and sources for the section of "y'all" replaced by "you" within a context. If anyone disagrees, could we please discuss it? Thanks. PN, MA Ling (talk) 02:48, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

challenged edits[edit]

PN, MA Ling had a couple questions about some edits I made a couple weeks ago. I tried to answer the concerns, but haven't yet heard back. I'm going to restore my edits, and post the deleted material here, along with my rationale.

1) deleted material: On the October 17, 2009 airing of Saturday Night Live, the Scottish actor Gerard Butler, the host of the episode, used "you all" at least once as a 2nd-person plural.[citation needed]

In Chapter 13 of the 1908 novel The Man Who Was Thursday, by Gilbert Keith Chesterton, "you all" appears twice. This novel was set mostly in London, and the characters were supposed to be English. The first use of "you all" in Chapter 13 of this novel appears to be the emphatic 'all of you; each and every one of you', but the second use could be argued to be a plural form of "you". These British uses of "you all" could shed some light on the development of "y'all" in the Southeastern US.[citation needed]

  • rationale for deletion: I know that "you all" and "you-all" in general are relevant to the development of "y'all". But I don't see how the SNL quote in particular has anything to do with that development - the paragraph is talking about how the Scottish ye aw may have influenced "y'all" - but there's nothing to connect this one usage of "you all" by a modern-day Scot to either "ye aw" or "y'all". As for the Chesterton material - it's a hypothesis that his use of "you all" in that chapter may be used as a second-person plural. But that's original research, and it's not connected to the development of "y'all" either. So that's why I took those bits out.

2) deleted material: Here is a 2nd example, culled from a personal email in July 2010:

  "I just talked to Jen and told her I'll call y'all on Friday night and let you know how far I've gotten and whether or not I can run up to Bainbridge on Saturday for the day."

Why is this worth noting? Because it would not happen with "we/us" or "they/them"; consider the impossibility of:

  * "May God Bless them.  They have the craziest stuff happen to *him.  (I) love *him.  (I'll) see *him tomorrow."
  * "May God Bless them.  They have the craziest stuff happen to *her.  (I) love *her.  (I'll) see *her tomorrow."

In other words, once "y'all" has been used to make it clear that the topic is 'you' plural, it is possible that the speaker or writer may revert to simple "you".

This could lead us to question whether "y'all" is indeed a pronoun, or the pronoun "you" plus some kind of emphatic use of "all" used only where necessary.

  • rationale for deletion: I'm not sure this is as interesting as it seems at first. The reason it seems interesting is because in modern English 1) the second-person plural is the only plural pronoun with two forms (in some dialects) - "y'all" and "you"; and 2) the second person pronoun has the same form in nominative and accusative. The combination of 1) and 2) is why "Y'all have the craziest stuff happen to you" is acceptable. In this sentence, "Y'all" is the plural nominative, which means that it requires a plural accusative - "you". In the sentence "They have the craziest stuff happen to *him", the plural nominative pronoun ("They") also requires a plural accusative. It just so happens that in modern English, "you" and "ya'll" are the same form for both nominative and accusative, while "they" and "them" are different.
Incidentally, this is not a "y'all"-specific phenomenon. It works in the singular form, as well. So you can have "You (singular) have the craziest stuff happen to you", but you can't have "He has the craziest stuff happen to *them". It's a question of agreement, that looks more complicated because of the abundance of uses of the form "you".

So, there you go. I tried to flesh out point 2) in my new edit. Responses to either or both points are welcome. Dohn joe (talk) 18:50, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Proposed page: English second-person plural pronouns[edit]

Currently there exist several pages that discuss second-person plural pronouns in English, including y'all and you (to which youse, you lot and most other plural forms redirect). Do you think it might be better to have information on the second-person plural in English on one page? Or is y'all a distinct enough phenomenon that it merits its own page, while other 2PP forms do not? Roscelese (talk) 01:56, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

I think that Second person plural pronouns in English (or similar title) would be a great page. As for where to put "y'all", I don't know that its distinctness as a phenomenon should necessarily be the reason to keep it separate. I think it's notable, but more importantly, it has enough info to stand on its own as a page. It could still of course get an abbreviated treatment on the broader "second-person plural" page. And I would say that could be the test for any of the individual pronouns - "yinz", "youse", etc. If someone comes along with a great deal of info on "youse", it could be spun out into its own page, while also being treated on the broader page. Thoughts? Dohn joe (talk) 03:26, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Four properties of "y'all" ... ???[edit]

The article doesn't need a list of 4 properties of the word. Only one is needed: it is plural of "you"; a contraction of "you" and "all". That's it. Those "4 properties" are just specific examples. I vote remove. (talk) 00:45, 22 March 2011 (UTC)


Y'all is only pronounced as two syllables by those affecting the accent for humorous effect or by bad actors attempting to fake a Southern accent. It is pronounced "yawl", one syllable, by those who actually use it in natural speech. --Khajidha (talk) 14:47, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I don't understand how it could ever be considered to be two syllables. I removed the text in question. Here it is: or two (/ˈjuː.ɔːl/ YEW-awl) (Acoastal (talk) 22:31, 24 May 2011 (UTC))

Looking for citation - "y'all" originating with some in need to translate Spanish[edit]

Hi. I originally started saying "y'all" because it was needed to properly translate Spanish, a language with separate you-singular and you-plural forms. I'd like to find a reliable-source citation for this ( isn't a reliable source), but haven't had any luck. Any thoughts? Thanks! Allens (talk) 12:52, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

"Y'all" developed to fill the need for a distinctive you-plural form. In other parts of the English speaking world the forms "y'unz" and "youse guys" arose for the same reasons. I don't really think it had much to do with translating for non-native speakers. --Khajidha (talk) 21:05, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, evidently I was unclear. I wasn't talking about the origins of the term itself, but one reason it is used by some. Allens (talk) 02:32, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Generalize tag[edit]

This article only seems to address the southern usages of y'all, and does not discuss the "African-American Vernacular English" usage. As an American who lives north of Chicago the "African-American Vernacular English" usage is the most commonly used form, however it is used by many people regardless of skin tone or ancestry, especially in music oriented subcultures(Hip-hop, house music, techno, etc), among youth, and adults who were born after 1970. I do not know how fast the field of linguistics responds to changes in living language, or how much material is available to document current uses of this word. In my experience "yall"(apostrophy dropped to indicate a difference in pronunciation from the southern Caucasian usage) is used for both singular and plural meanings on a regular basis. Drn8 (talk) 22:02, 29 May 2013 (UTC)


Y'all'll've noticed that a lot a folks got a lot to say about this here contraction. (talk) 19:45, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Etymology: use of plural form as a polite form when addressing a single person[edit]

The form y'all, personal pronoun, second person plural, in informal English has a full parallel in the form jullie, personal pronoun, second person plural, in informal Netherlandish (also known as Dutch). Both languages have been strongly influenced by (the polite use of) the French language. In French it is considered polite to address a single person with vous instead of tu. This polite French fashion was transferred into both the English and the Netherlandish languages so strongly that the personal pronoun, second person singular (thou/thee in English), effectively completely vanished. Thou/thee was replaced by (ye/)you in the English language; in archaic official Netherlandish only the plural form gij/u was used, which has eventually been replaced by the formal u/u and the informal jij/jou. Because of the need felt for a distinction between the second person singular and the second person plural, in informal Netherlandish language jij/jou in its turn has been replaced by jullie, which stems from je, the unstressed form of jij/jou with the addition lie, an abrasion of lieden meaning people. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Amand Keultjes (talkcontribs) 22:06, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

That's very interesting! If you have any source(s) for that, we might be able to use it in the article. Please respond if you know of any. Thanks! Dohn joe (talk) 13:04, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Not in American English. It's not at all a question of T-V distinction. Iamvered (talk) 17:28, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ The Structure of English for Readers, Writers, and Teachers, 2nd edition