Y’all

Y’all, which originates in the U.S. and is common in many regions of the country, is a contraction of you and all. Although the word is generally considered out of place in formal writing, writers from regions that use the contraction sometimes use it in writing to affect a folksy or very informal tone. It also tends to appear in quoted speech and interviews.

Although y’all is considered informal, it is not a substandard word, nor is it a sign of illiteracy or poor education. In some parts of the U.S., many people from all sorts of backgrounds use the word. Every part of the English-speaking world has its idiosyncrasies, and there’s no reason to look down on this one more than any other.

There are reportedly parts of the U.S. where y’all now works as a singular pronoun—e.g., when alone with his or her spouse, a person from one of these areas might say, I don’t know about y’all, but I’m getting hungry. But even though this is an American blog, we’ve not personally encountered the singular y’all and have had trouble finding examples online. We welcome comments from anyone familiar with this phenomenon.

If you do use y’all, make sure the apostrophe comes after the y. Ya’ll is a common misspelling. And when quoting speech, don’t be afraid to use y’all when that’s what the speaker says. There’s no need to turn it into you all.

Examples

Anyway, apologies for the preamble, but since I’m filling in here for one week only, I wanted y’all to know where my head is at, Raising Hope-wise. [AV Club]

It’s the final episode of Gods of the Arena, y’all! [Houston Chronicle Tubular blog]

I am sure y’all were breathlessly awaiting the election results out of Estonia this weekend. [Dallas Morning News blog]

However, we know that y’all are also Buckeye fans, and Buckeye fans always keep up with their own. [Land-Grand Holy Land]

Y’all knew it was just a matter of time before I had to write about Honey Boo Boo Child. [Bellingham Herald]

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