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It is my understanding that the contraction y'all was considered correct American English in times past. At what point was this word removed from valid American English?

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When it became apparent that it was the Texans using it. Otherwise somebody would end up comparing Texans to upper crust British - which obviously sometimes is true in regards of attitude. ;) –  malach Sep 17 '10 at 13:45
Do you have a source for that? I don't think "y'all" was ever "correct" written English. If you go back far enough in "upper crust British English", "you" was the plural of "thou," so "y'all" wouldn't have been necessary. –  Joel Spolsky Sep 17 '10 at 14:32
@Joel I was told that by a British exchange student several years ago. "It was never correct" would be an acceptable answer. –  C. Ross Sep 17 '10 at 14:39
Hey, we southerners are just trying to fix a broken language that doesn't have any distinct 2nd person plural pronoun. I'm all for the legitimacy of "Y'all." –  JohnFx Sep 17 '10 at 16:23
The only time one should use "y'all" in "proper American English" is when one is responding to the importunate proud parents of a newborn baby who demand to know "Which one of us do you think the baby looks like?" The diplomatic answer to this is "Why, the baby looks just like y'all!" –  Dilip Sarwate Feb 1 '13 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It was never considered "proper" English; however, as cited above, it fills the need of the otherwise-absent second-person plural. It's very common vernacular in the South and some of the West of the United States. I'm not aware of it commonly being used outside the United States.

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I agree entirely. In fact, in Australia, we only use 'y'all' in a comical satirical manner. –  J D OConal Sep 18 '10 at 2:06

An argument for the superiority of "y'all" over "you guys," which fills the same grammatical niche in other parts of the US that "y'all" does in the South.

  1. Economical: one word, one syllable.

  2. Nonsexist.

  3. Gracefully takes a possessive. "Is that you guys's new minivan?" vs. "Is that y'all's new Tesla roadster?"

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