Submitted by jimmcculloch on April 4, 2005

you all

New to this blog, I read back a few days and discovered the entry on you all, in which some commentators maintained that you by itself does satisfactory service as a plural. But consider the following: Person walks into a bar, says “hi, y’all” to everyone there. This utterance would be recognized as perfectly grammatical and ordinary by any native speaker of red-state English. Is there any variety of English where “hi, you” could be taken as a greeting to everyone?

Comments

Sort by

It's "Hey, you," or "Hi, you guys."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Hey, everyone," would be common. Whether the singular-plural distinction always requires separate grammatical forms in this context is debatable. There are all kinds of ways we communicate these distinctions, e.g. body language, eye contact etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

When I lived in North Carolina, I was informed by the local language mavens that "y'all" was properly singular, while "all y'all" was the accepted plural.

Cheers,

Zoomie

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Haha...I'd certainly not consider myself the grammar expert, but I do have to say that "hi, you" sounds extraordinarily unfamiliar and incorrect. But then again, it just might be completely correct, but we crazy Americans are just too dumb to know it. :)

Personally, however, I've never heard it used that way.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here Downunder some people say "How are yous all" and "See yous", but I'm glad to see that it's considered very bad grammar but most people!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Hi, you all" makes sense to me. And that is exactly what "Hi, y'all" means.

As a Southerner, I feel that our use of this colloquialism is quite appropriate--especially in this modern--politically correct/gender neutral--age.

Y'all is a contraction.
Y'all = you + all It is used only in the plural sense--as in, more than one person is being addressed.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but the North Carolinian referred to in a previous comment does not know what she's talking about! Using "y'all" when speaking to only one person is what folks from outside the South do when they are mocking the use of this word.

There are lots of places where other collective words and phrases are common--"yous guys" is one that comes to mind. I connect it with New York or Chicago and gangsters, etc.

"Y'all" is an inclusive, warm, friendly, non-threatening word. Y'all should use it. Really.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'm from Southern Ohio and grew up using "you'ns" for the second person plural, but I've noticed on trips back that my younger cousins (and if my impressions are correct, people in general now) seem to prefer "y'all".

When I "went north" to university (OSU), I got ragged on a lot for "talking like a hillbilly" and quickly adapted my language to the "norm" (lost the 'r' in "wash", learned to pronounce the difference--most of the time--between "pin" and "pen"), but I never could get rid of "you'ns": to me the singular/plural distinction (and need to express it?) was just too strong.

FWIW.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"You all" means "all of you". The problem with you by itself is it's unclear whether it's singular or plural. I think that ambiguity is at least one reason why "Hi, you" wouldn't work as a greeting. You have to make it clear you're speaking to a plural audience *before* using you to address them. Also the reason for "Hi, you guys." I think I might greet a pair of friends with "Hey, you two!" Although it's a little more difficult to make that sound informal.

Of course the other problem is that "Hi, you" sounds strange even talking to just one person.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Hi, you" sounds like something you'd say awkwardly when you've forgotton someone's name. I think I've heard it used that way on some sitcom as a joke.

Usually, when used in the singular, it's quite clear who you're talking to, so you'd just say, "hi", or "hi, Bill", or whatever.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'll quite happily use "hi all" on entering a room. completely wrong grammatically im sure, but to me it sounds less colloquial and Americanized than y'all.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

What I hear/use most often: "Hey, guys."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment