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All of you are sitting here with me in my den

vs.

You all are sitting here with me in my den

And a general form:

you all vs. all of you

Which is the proper usage?

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The second version could also be: "You are all sitting here with me in my den." –  GEdgar Mar 30 '12 at 13:52
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

“You-all”—also occurring as “y’all”—is a second-person plural pronoun that occurs in some regional versions of US English. It is used by some speakers to eliminate the ambiguity caused by the Standard English “you”, since “you” does not differentiate between singular and plural.

“All of you” is a noun-phrase that may be used in Standard English when the ambiguity of “you” by itself would be confusing or misleading.

In most contexts “all of you” would be considered the correct phrasing. Some listeners or readers perceive “you-all” to be incorrect.

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1  
"You all" (non-hyphenated) has been in existence for a long, long time. For example, see the King James Bible (Paul's letters in particular). –  mmyers Nov 9 '10 at 22:33
    
@mmyers - That's true. It would be cool if someone with more scholarly knowledge on the subject were to post another, more detailed, answer. And I'd be willing to bet that y'all becomes standard over the next few decades. It's just too useful. –  Jeffrey L Whitledge Nov 10 '10 at 0:51
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Both are technically correct, but the second ("you all") is less preferable because of the ambiguity of whether you mean y'all * or simply you all. Of course, if you're writing in a context where "y'all" is acceptable, then this isn't a problem.

You can slightly rephrase #2 to avoid the ambiguity, but keep more-or-less the same meaning:

You are all sitting here with me in my den.

Note that the "you all are"/"you are all" constructions mean something slightly different than the "all of you are" construction. The latter places emphasis on the fact that all of you are sitting here, as opposed to just some of you. The former put a very slight emphasis on sitting instead.

* As in, the slightly-redundant informal version of the 2nd person plural pronoun.

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(1) Which do you mean by “the second”? The question mentions “all of you”, “you all”, “you all” and “all of you” in this order. (2) You mention “the ambiguity of whether you mean y'all or simply you all”. What is the difference between “y’all” and “you all”? I thought that they have the same meaning. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 10 '10 at 1:41
    
@Tsuyoshi Ito, I added some clarification, hope it helps. –  Marthaª Nov 10 '10 at 2:37
    
By comparing y’all and you all in Wiktionary, now I understand what you mean by saying that “you all” is ambiguous. But I find your way of stating it as “the ambiguity of whether you mean y’all or simply you all” pretty confusing. Thank you for trying to clarify it anyway. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 10 '10 at 2:47
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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 30 '12 at 16:05

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