Tag Archives: grammar

The Case for Y’all

Y’all, as a one-word abbreviation of “you all,” ought to be accepted into modern English usage.

English is lacking a unique  second-person plural pronoun. In the past, “ye” served this crucial function, but it has since slipped into severe, irrevocable disfavor.

Supposedly, ye began to disappear after the 1600s because it was a formal pronoun, and once class distinctions became unclear, you–which had always been an appropriate catchall–became the simple pronoun for all occasions.

A demand for modern translations of the Bible also has reduced peoples’ exposure to old English words.

What besides “y’all” could round out our language?  “You guys” is offensive in its tackiness, familiarity, and misogyny.

“Yinz,” “you’uns,” “yous” and “youse guys” are each used in pockets of the world, but are inferior options to y’all because of obscurity, gender complications, or both.  The Ohio River Valley area around Pittsburgh is especially rich in use of historical language; it’s where both yinz and you’uns are at home there and there only.

Join me in supporting y’all, by using it whenever possible.  By the theories of the descriptive grammar school, if enough people use it, especially in published writings, we can finally make it formally recognized.