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A friend of mine and I were discussing the proper usage of "y'all".  (She's European and I'm from New Jersey.)    We know that "y'all" is the Southern version of the second person plural.  Can it be used when addressing only two people?  Or do you need more than two?

Just wondering...

ETA:  Thank y'all!  <g>


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
I live just outside Philly in New Jersey right now, and I've used "y'all" not infrequently (hear it around here, too, though in Philly the plural of You tends to be Youse or Youse guys :D). Any plural works. Not sure if the rules in the south are different.
May. 11th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
Of course :) What grates me, though, is hearing it used as the singular (I think they did it in The Princess and the Frog). I'd be more interested to know if anyone uses it that way IRL o_O I'm born and raised in Louisiana, and my Georgia born-and-raised friend also finds it terribly rough on the ears.
May. 11th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
I really don't like hearing it for one person--a clear sign of a non-native user. From South Carolina.
May. 11th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, I hear ya about The Princess and the Frog -- I saw a preview clip where they used y'all as a singular and it was like fingernails on a blackboard. And I'm from the Pacific Northwest, even.
May. 11th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the movie, but basically yes, 'y'all' is plural and using it in apparent singular has issues.;-) It does get used in some cases that may appear to be singular but aren't really.

1. to a single present hearer but referring to his whole absent group/family, etc

2. to a single present hearer but referring to his business. "Do y'all sell tobacco?" This can even be used when there's no one else involved in the business: it just makes the distinction between personal and business. "What time do y'all close? What time are you going home?"

Or, we may say 'y'all' to anyone who uses the editorial or royal 'we'. ;-)

With thou/you, the plural took over for reasons of politeness and respect. That may be happening in some cases of 'y'all'.
May. 11th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Yep. You only need two.
May. 11th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
Yes, you use y'all for any number more than 1 (I think only Old English distinguishes between two and more than two). Just don't use y'all for one person!
May. 11th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
The joke is that "y'all" means "you" and the plural is "all y'all."

The reality is that y'all means "More than one" and "all y'all" is fairly rare, with the "all" serving as an intensifier.

(Father from AK)
May. 11th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
"Midland, y'all played a real good game, and Abilene, y'all played good too, now ALL y'all come to the dance."

'Y'all' is a group, and 'all y'all' is addressing more than one group at the same time.

But don't hear this much, it's a little colloquial.

Southern US/Texas
May. 11th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
I would use y'all for 2+ people -- though I'm a non-native adopter as it were, being from the Northwest. But I like the added specificity of address the word allows, and I find it a useful pronoun.
May. 11th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
Two or more people I'd say, though my relatives in the South have been known to say, 'Do y'all want to go and do x?" even when they're only speaking to me. So it can be used to only one person as well, :).
May. 11th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
2 or more... though I have heard people say it in refrence to one person. I don't really care either way. There's other forms of "slang" that bother me a lot more than someone calling one person "ya'll".
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


U.S. of Eh - North American English Inquiries

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