Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I generally hear y'alls's used as the possessive form, but I have also heard yourn. Since y'all is a colloquial pronoun, its possessive form is basically liberated from prescriptive linguistics which would probably say that y'all is a contraction for you all and therefore must be possessivized as of all of you.

Do you know if there is a "standard" way to make y'all possessive, insofar as y'all usage can be considered standard?

share|improve this question
    
Possible duplicate of: english.stackexchange.com/questions/8102/… –  jcolebrand Jul 21 '11 at 20:43
    
Why are there two questions here that are widely divergent? Which would you like answered? –  jcolebrand Jul 21 '11 at 20:44
    
@Jsolebrand Sorry, I meant possessive but wrote plural, which doesn't make sense anyways because y'all is already plural. It should be fixed now. –  Peter Olson Jul 21 '11 at 20:47
    
y'all is most assuredly not plural. I've now had several people tell me I'm wrong. Go figure. –  jcolebrand Jul 21 '11 at 20:54
    
@jcolebrand When would you ever use y'all to refer to only one person? –  Peter Olson Jul 21 '11 at 20:56
show 3 more comments

1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It depends on whether you are indicating individual or group possession.

Did y'all get your coats?

Your is used because each person has a coat.

Is that y'all's house?

Y'all's is used because the house is theirs collectively. I never use y'alls's because y'all is already plural and doesn't need the s before the apostrophe.

For what it's worth, I'm from the Alabama and use both y'all and y'all's regularly.

share|improve this answer
    
I agree with the logic behind the usage of your to indicate individual possession, but I don't think it always happens that way in practice. As a Tennessean, I often hear your all's or y'all's in the same place. I've never seen either forms written, but one can assume that anyone willing to make such an obviously improper grammatical construct is not going to be too concerned with the placement of an apostrophe. –  HaL Jul 21 '11 at 21:03
    
This is about correct. I say "about" because this is very informal, loose usage at best. I also have lived in the South and have noted wide use of "y'all" and "y'all's." Singular "y'all" is illustrative, e.g., you are talking to one person, you can ask, "Is this y'all's truck?" which implies family ownership - even though other members of the family are not present. "Yourn" sounds like an Appalachianism to me. –  The Raven Jul 21 '11 at 21:15
    
@The Raven: "Yourn" is mostly archaic in the UK, but still current in some Northern (rural/rustic?) dialects, I think. –  FumbleFingers Jul 21 '11 at 22:53
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.