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Most people seem to stumble over this. The problem can arise with any multi-word phrase that needs a possessive but ends in S, and so sounds awkward using the clitic apostrophe-S. I've heard this particular one variously rendered as:

  • You guys'
  • You guys's
  • Your guys' / your guy's

What's you guys...your...guises...what's your take on it?

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1  
LOL at the last sentence, but I also think you just answered your own question. :) –  Marthaª Feb 11 '11 at 23:04
    
Although "you guys'" is technically correct, it sounds awkward. It might be better to use "your". –  Kramii Nov 11 '11 at 10:16
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Regardless of the various permutations being thrown around these days, the correct possessive of you guys is you guys’, spoken or written, and I quote (emphasis mine):

To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe.

EXAMPLES

  • highways’ intersection
  • the beetles’ legs

John E. Warriner, Warriner's English Grammar and Composition (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986), 243

Since you guys is a plural noun, it is subject to the above rule, which has no exception, as far as I know.

Indeed, you guys's is not an uncommon colloqiualism (I have even used it myself on occasion) but it is grammatically incorrect, and thus has no place in standard, proper or formal contexts, whether spoken or written.

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Just to throw a wrench into the mix, "you guys" can be singular, with the plural form being (of course) "youse guys." –  BryanH Jan 29 '13 at 16:53
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You guys' is correct written, pronounced you guys's. (Dropping the s on the written version because guys is a plural, not because I think it should always be dropped if the word ends in an s.) You rather than your because you guys is a unit and the possessive case doesn't need to be commuted across each element of it.

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The pronunciation you guys's is incorrect, in my opinion. Would you really say "the boys's toys", for instance?! –  Jimi Oke Feb 12 '11 at 0:07
    
@Jimi Oke: I certainly would, if the alternative is saying something aurally indistinguishable from the clearly incorrect "the boys toys". –  chaos Feb 12 '11 at 0:11
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... so you're saying that, to avoid saying something correct ("the boys' toys") that happens to sound identical to something ungrammatical ("the boys toys"), you'd say something equally ungrammatical ("the boys's toys")? You're entitled to do so, I suppose, but I reserve my right to find it strange :-) –  psmears Mar 4 '11 at 16:30
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No, a bare apostrophe is never pronounced as anything. If you say an extra "uhz" at the end, you must write apostrophe plus s, never a lone apostrophe. –  tchrist May 17 '12 at 16:07
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"You guys" is very informal, so... I'd just say "Hey, you guys, your bikes just got run over by a steamroller". And then turn around and run like hell in case they want to kill the messenger. ;-)

Seriously, I wouldn't even try to find possessive, since "You guys" is just a form of address. What I mean is, it's just (my reading) a kind of "plural of dude" (okay, "dudes"... but do people say that?)

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It's because English lacks a second person plural. It wasn't always the case - "you" was formerly second person plural ("thou" was second person singular). In the north you have "you guys"; in the south, we have "y'all". –  Chris B. Behrens Feb 11 '11 at 22:37
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@Chris B. Behrens: You Southern boys don't have a monopoly on 2nd person plural constructions other than "you guys". In some Northern locales the plural of you is youse. In the area around Pittsburgh, some people still say yins (presumably short for you'uns). The rest of us realize that the 2nd person plural is, in fact, you. –  Robusto Feb 12 '11 at 0:08
    
'Yins' is a new one on me. –  Chris B. Behrens Feb 14 '11 at 15:22
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I believe the correct usage is "youse guyses", though American English spellers may substitute the "s" for a "z".

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Do you mean to say that you would indicate both terms with the possessive (that is, something like "you's guys' ")? Isn't it slightly too much? –  Paola May 17 '12 at 15:57
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protected by RegDwigнt May 17 '12 at 21:47

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