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Hi all vs. Hi everybody

I’m German, but work in an American company. So the expression “Hi all” is pretty popular as a salutation for email messages. Now, an American English native speaker told me that this is Southern accent, and I should use “Hi everybody” instead. (same with “Dear all”)

What do you think?

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Actually the southern accent would be "Hi you all" (generally spoken and written as "hi y'all." Both are technically incorrect grammar.

In any case, "all" and "everybody" are not interchangable. "Hi everyone" or "Hi everybody" is more standard than "Hi all." I've never heard anyone say or write "Dear All." But "Dear Everybody" is odd as well.

My advice:

Use "Hi Everyone" when being less formal.

Use "Dear" when being more formal, although I think dear is rare in email, which is informal by nature.

When using "Dear," it should be followed by a specific name (Dear Anette), by "Sir" or something similar, or by the specific name of a group (Dear PR Department Members). But not "Dear All" or "Dear Everybody."

Ben Cruzan April 5, 2006, 4:19am

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I am not Southern and often use Hi All! in both speech (entering the office in the morning when "all" are gathered at the coffee pot) and writing. Is more informal than everyone or everybody.

Janet April 5, 2006, 5:11am

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Hi Ben, you certainly mean 'grammar'?

ralf April 5, 2006, 8:58am

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"Dear all" is quite common in my experience as a greeting on a letter or message.

dave April 6, 2006, 4:06am

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Spelling correctly is highly overrated.

Ben Cruzan April 6, 2006, 8:03am

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Careful Ben, it seems as thou he may be on a crusade...

IngisKahn April 6, 2006, 11:15am

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I too know this as the Southern American "Hi y'all" as a contraction of 'you all'. I've been told that it originates from the distinction drawn in many languages (e.g. French and German) between the pronouns for you singular and you plural. The idea being that 'you all' was a way of expressing the plural you that doesn't exist per se in English.

I'd also been told that in the southern American dialects a distinction is often drawn between "Hi y'all" (used as singular) and "Hi you all" (used as plural). This idea always appealed to me, although I can't say from experience whether it's a real distinction that is drawn in those dialects.

andy April 11, 2006, 4:25am

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I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I have never in my entire life heard "y'all" or "you all" used to address a single individual--- outside of movies or tv shows, that is.

In fact, I've had discussions on this topic with several people from Georgia, Mississippi and the Carolinas, and we all cringe when we hear "y'all" used as singular. I suppose that a rogue, singular "y'all" may exist somewhere in the south, but is far from mainstream.

As for the original post, I don't know whether "Hi all" is unique to the American South, but in my experience, it would be interchangeable with "Hi everybody." in casual conversation.

Am I the only one here who can't help but wonder if the original poster's ethnicity has some part to play in the advice she was given? I know of many people (myself included, I must admit) who would raise eyebrows at a German walking around saying "Hi all"---especially if it were accompanied with a wave.

tardisrider April 14, 2006, 9:10pm

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It is hard to know how to start an email addressed to a lot of people. I can't say I've seen Hi All before but Hi Everybody is more common in our office in Australia. Sometimes people might also just put Hi or All separately as the staring address. I personally use Hi Everyone.

Thanh April 15, 2006, 1:30am

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AndyA- you're right in pointing out the use of "y'all" as a second person plural pronoun. I'd like to add that, in addition to the archaic "ye" or "ge," English (American English, at least) has several such pronouns (none of which are accepted as "standard," of course) including "yous guys," and the Western Pennsylvanian "yinns" or "yunns." "Y'all" is a demonstrably southern form, as there is a clear isogloss running somehwere through Pennsylvania (then getting really schmeared and blurry as you go west) that separates "y'all" to the south from "yous guys" to the north.

To address the main topic though, I do not think that "hi all" is at all related to "y'all." In my opinion, "hi all" started in the mid-90's in those early internet chat rooms, when chatting online was still a novelty. It was, historiolinguistically, a fascinating moment in which the clear division between speech and writing became irrevocably ambiguous. The first time I ever encountered "hi all" was over the internet and, while I would need more evidence If I wanted to advance this argument, I think that "hi all" reflected the shifting language ideologies of a speech community going online where space, individuals, and communities take on paradoxical properties. Basically, the result was that expressions such as "hi all" comprised a speech (or literary?) genre that did not exist off the computer screen. Do they today? Has cyberculture developed so quickly that we now say things like "hi all" in speech or writing (writing on physical paper, that is)? If I were a non-native speaker of English, I should like to say that I would avoid using expressions like "hi all" altogether because the langauge ideologies attached to them are too subtle for anyone but a native speaker of English who has had a great deal of exposure to the English of the internet. Still, the problem is a very real one: I would suggest, in email, to use traditional letter-writing conventions, but these conventions cannot always be applied to email. For example, traditional letter-writing conventions do not generally account for the possibility of multiple recipients. You are left with the few options that a nascent speech /literary genre has to offer. In this case, the only one that I can think of is "hi all."

A O April 20, 2006, 7:34am

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In my job I am often writing emails to multiple people and have had trouble with this as well. Despite the fact that half of my audience is in the South, I don't use You All.

So I avoid the whole question and use Greetings! without an All, You all, Everyone or Everybody.

You could try talking to one of the people you usually address as part of the "All" and is high on the chain of command. Ask him or her if they are offended by the way you address the group. There's your answer.

Good luck!


PaulaZT April 22, 2006, 10:34am

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I thought 'you' originally was (and still is) a plural pronoun, which in turn became used for the singular in place of 'ye.' This would explain the plural case of 'you' as in "you were" in contrast to "I/he/she was."

Can I get an Amen?

awazaredo May 11, 2006, 9:33pm

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1. you = one person (English uses the formal/plural as the standard);
2. y'all (you all) = more than one person (southern);
3. all y'all = many more than one person (southern, humorous);
4. ye = plural subjective pronoun; you = plural objective pronoun; thou = singular subjective pronoun; thee = singular objective pronoun;
5. i start my messages to three or more with "Hello, All!"

shatzi July 26, 2006, 2:26pm

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'Hi All' is used to address multiple people in email or instant messages. At times it is used in hurried speech to address an audience of people. It seems to me to be convention for '[Hi] all of you' and simply shortened to 'Hi all' to avoid encumberance.
In my experience it has appeared completely appropriate as a term of address to multiple addressees. As mentioned above completely interchangeable with [Hi|Hello, Everyone|Everybody]

hned October 14, 2006, 8:23pm

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Y'all can be used to one person if it implies plurality.

For example someone might say "Y'all coming to supper?" to one person if they mean them and their family.

Or if you go into a store and ask the clerk "Where do y'all keep the butter beans?" It implies the clerk and entire store staff- so that is plural.

This is why people are mistaken about the use of y'all or you all because when its used on one person it implies plurality.

meadeskelton2 October 27, 2006, 11:48pm

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I would like to add too that there is nothing improper with a southern "accent" (and all its variants) . Improper English is improper whether its Bostonian or Hillbilly.

Y'all may sound coloqiual, but its sure a lot better than "you guys" which is the northern form of the plural and sounds ridiculous when used to address people in a group that arent even male.

meadeskelton2 October 27, 2006, 11:51pm

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Ya'll make this Southern Boy smile.

Redneck November 2, 2006, 10:59am

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No point trying to format informal expressions with subjective connotations. December 3, 2006, 5:12am

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I say ya'll in everday speech here in Louisana. I always use the southern word in the plural sense. I here someone say, you all, usually identifies someone is from the northern part of the states or not a local. Nothern people probably fell the same way when they hear ya'll which clearly identifies the south. I have to believe if you get your point across nothing else matters.

Jack June 29, 2007, 5:52pm

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it's very nice your work
good thanks

cidibar July 9, 2008, 2:18pm

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hi everybody

othancomputer July 23, 2008, 9:14pm

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Who Care

mero4449 July 13, 2009, 9:07am

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Hi in the correct english, should it be "Hi all" or "Hi All"?

abunene July 17, 2009, 1:54am

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I've a question. In typing out email, should we use "Hi all" or "Hi All"

My understanding is for a word with initial capital, it is meant to refer to something specific for e.g. sending an email to a person, "Hi David"

I do see some people sending out email with "Hi All". Please correct my understanding if I'm wrong.

abunene August 17, 2009, 11:23pm

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Dear Anette:

It is never improper to use "Dear" in a salutation. It may seem old-fashioned, but it is standard. "Hi" is too informal for business correspondence. There is no reason email should be treated differently from traditional mail. Also, a colon is the proper punctuation to use in formal correspondence. A comma is used to end the salutation in personal or social correspondence.

Many comments posted here have discussed the issue of how to address multiple persons in an email. I'm not sure that was the intent of your question, but it is a valid question. "Dear Team:" or "Dear Group:" are preferable to "Dear All:" or "Dear Everybody." (You are not, in fact addressing the world at large.) If the message is sent to anyone outside of the team or group those recipients should be copied (Cc'd).

douglas.bryant August 19, 2009, 1:53pm

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"Dear" may certainly be correct in many circumstances, but it's been my experience, particularly in business communications, that both formality and informality have all but disappeared and been replaced by an unrelenting terseness. There is no more "dear" to initiate business correspondence. It has been replaced by simply "TO:" in a memo-style heading. More often than not, even this is ellided, replaced by simply the recipient(s) name(s). No more "Dear John". Now, simply "John," at the start of the letter. Or, "Group:" or "Team:" or "Staff:". This is not an informality. It is simply an abandonment of all pleasantries in a highly abbreviated style that freely uses sentence fragments and deletes any and all connecting words, even normally necessary verbs if they can be easily deduced (think telegram: "Acton items: John Doe to deliver prototype June 5th. Drawings to production June 6th"). I can't speak for the world at large, but this is what I have encountered in normal business communications for the past thirty years.

porsche August 19, 2009, 3:02pm

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Dear Porsche,

You make a good point. Dear has become somewhat archaic in business communication. Perhaps it should be retired. I still think that "Hi" is a poor substitute.

douglas.bryant August 19, 2009, 4:25pm

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I don't know, Douglas. I would agree with you that old-fashioned or not, you can't go wrong with it. It is becoming rarer, though. By the way, I meant ...elided..., not ...ellided....

porsche August 19, 2009, 5:23pm

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Your elided gaffe eluded me. I'm far from the original question, but what is a better salutation? Business email ping-pongs between the poles of ALL-CAPS YELLING and "hi guys." There ought to be a dignified, respectful way to open an electronic message. And to end one.

douglas.bryant August 19, 2009, 6:39pm

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What about "Hi everyone" and "Dears"

hipgoog September 8, 2009, 7:19pm

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Greatest debate ever

pokemon November 24, 2009, 6:02am

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Let me go out on a limb here. I would suggest that there is really no such thing as formal correspondence via e-mail. I consider the very medium to be unreliable and informal by nature. It's unpredictable both in terms of delivery time and even assurance of actual delivery. The recipient could take a week to read his or her e-mail, or just delete it. It could get gobbled up by a spam filter. I would list in approximate order of formality from lowest to highest: post-it note, instant message, email, phone call, fax, memo, letter, letter with delivery confirmation. I realize I'm making generalities here, but let's face it. Most business e-mails start out: "Hi, I have a question about your product..." or "Bill, can you make the meeting at 3PM?" or "Hi all, Please note, Boeing will be visiting the plant on Monday..." but absolutely never "Dear Sir or Madame, Please be advised..." If a situation required that level of formality, it would also require transmission by certified mail or FedEx with signature confirmation.

porsche November 24, 2009, 9:40am

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what about english language??? tell me pls. why easy study english language???help me please

lligro January 1, 2010, 11:19pm

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i'm from mongolia..

lligro January 1, 2010, 11:20pm

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hi everyone...
My name's ozlem.I am from turkey. I am learning English with the Callan method.

Can you help me to speak english?
lovely ....

ozis March 27, 2011, 9:16pm

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True Southerner here! I am from North Carolina and I can't believe y'all are going on and on about the phrase, "Hi Y'all". "Hi Y'all" is a greeting made to two or more people. I love the phrase and most true southerners use it throwing as much southern dialect into it as possible. If it's improper, we don't care. It's a phrase that we love and have used for generations and generations.

Debbie McCurry July 15, 2011, 3:04pm

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I am 65 years old and in the 60's (before internet and email) would walk in to a room full of people and announce "Hi, all!" and receive back "Hi, you!" so possibly not EVERYTHING started with the internet and hence, within that generation's memory. I'm just saying....

JP July 18, 2011, 9:24am

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I'm English and I prefer “Hi Everyone”. There's no chance I’d say or write “Hi y'All” unless I was addressing a group of Americans and taking the piss.

I do see “Hi All” occasionally but it's usually on a group e-mail sent to the whole company e-mail address

Anyway, my question is, should the “All” or “Everyone” have a capital first letter? I would have thought it does but our HR director always starts her message with “Hi everyone”. It's been bugging me for weeks - which is correct?

Matt September 1, 2011, 8:48pm

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Wel i dnt knw hw to speak very wel but i knw little in english

Danielchegun November 21, 2011, 10:06am

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The other variant in the South is, "Hey y'all!" ... The answer is, "Hey!"

"Hey y'all. What's goin' on?" ... "Hey. Nuthin'."

AnWulf November 21, 2011, 4:27pm

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Thanks PaulaZT.... "greetings" seems to offer the best coverage and formal enough for business without sounding goofy or cumbersome. I like it.

JJack January 12, 2012, 2:20am

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And what is wrong with the good old South African greeting "Howzitt, you ous?!" which can be analysed as a contraction of "how is it, you, and 'ous' pronounced "oze", the plural of 'ou' which means 'old (friend)' in Afrikaans?

I guess the answer is that is is unintelligible except in South Africa where it is seen as warm and friendly. I guess too that elsewhere it may seem extremely scary, as it is invariably enunciated at top volume and always by someone who has just burst in.

Brus February 15, 2012, 7:56am

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Hi all. I will study english language. Help me.

Baagii September 4, 2012, 7:06pm

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hi,every one ,hold on i'm gone be with yousoon ,my regards,

visionouahe blakkoak January 13, 2013, 7:19am

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hi all fucking that all :))))))))) LOL))))))))))))))

saeed February 6, 2013, 3:29am

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Well, Saeed, that was a most eloquent and valuable contribution to the discussion. This is what you say where you come from, then. Here in Thailand we bow deeply, the deeper the more respectfully, with hands together, fingers pointing upwards, saying slowly and deliberately "Sawasdee kap" (not pronouncing the middle s and for women not pronouncing the final p). Back in Scotland I remember one greeting is "hey, you, pal, (or Jimmie) who're you looking at?" preparatory to limbering up for a spot of head-butting. But I am sure your greeting is the most honest of all, communicating your opinion of your interlocutor without deceit or camouflage. I may use it myself some day, somewhere. Thank you.

Brus February 7, 2013, 3:43am

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@ Brus - "Here in Thailand, we bow ..." - Well, you certainly assimilate quickly, don't you? I can just imagine you saying, when you used to live in Scotland, "Here in Scotland we say - See yous all later." :):)

I was trying to think of some witty riposte to Saeed's earthy greeting myself, but I then I decided I didn't actually understand it.

Warsaw Will February 7, 2013, 8:09am

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Follow the BOSS, as he likes to address official conversation

Pankaj gaur May 6, 2013, 10:05pm

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hi all situ chhachhia

Hi all, August 7, 2013, 8:51pm

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From a British perspective, I think 'Hi everyone', but 'Dear all' sound the most natural.

As for capitalisation, according to The Gregg Reference Manual, which I understand is pretty influential in American business and professional circles, all nouns in the salutation should be capitalised, but not 'everyone' and 'all', because they are pronouns. This would be in line with the rules for headlines in, for example, the New York Times.

Warsaw Will August 8, 2013, 1:35am

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Some Co Workers always start by saying "Hi All" to me this doesn't sound professional.
Its so frustrating to see when these e mails go out.
I rather see Hi Everyone. To me "all" is like you are rounding up cattle. we are people.
That is just my personal opinion.

Yaya March 11, 2014, 7:31am

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What if I'm writting a letter to some dogs (I'm inviting them to my puppy 1st b-day)? Can I start with "Hi all" or it's better to start with: "Dear Dogs"? Thanks

Donny August 5, 2014, 9:40pm

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RAFAFA June 11, 2016, 7:43am

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I have never understood why we address "Dear". I prefer using it only for personal mails only. Like family and friends. Refering to the discussion here may I suggest "Hello xyz team" on professional mails. Usage of "Hello all" is certainly not the correct way but a more assimilated and tolerated approach.

John Kunal July 18, 2016, 4:41am

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is this sentence correct by UK English standards - I just wanted to drop a note to say a big 'Thank You' for having me in the London office the last two weeks and for taking time out of all your busy schedules to onboard me and make me feel welcomed.

georgina August 8, 2016, 12:30am

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@georgina I haven't heard 'onboard' as a verb, so perhaps "...schedules to welcome me onboard."
However, the Brits often understate things, so the following might be quite enough:
Just a note to say thank you for having me.
You could add: "and making me feel welcome/at home" but there again Brits stereotypically do not mention "feelings"....
Try googling "very British problems" such as:
A: Sorry, did you say something?
B: Sorry, did I?
A: Sorry, I thought you did.
B: Sorry, I really didn't mean to.
A: That's okay, no need to apologize.
B: Sorry, won't happen again.

jayles the unriven August 8, 2016, 3:49pm

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Yes     No