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Historical usage of “was”/“were” with “you”
We was gonna have some fun

‘All’ below may be regarded as the singular, but can the plural of ‘you’ be followed by ‘was,’ not ‘were’?

All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago.

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marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach, tchrist, StoneyB, RegDwigнt Nov 9 '12 at 11:46

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Do not delete duplicates: they act as cross references and can help visitors find an answer. –  MετάEd Dec 6 '12 at 0:33

1 Answer 1

up vote -1 down vote accepted

Added: On reflection this answer is "off tangent" BUT still does actually address the question asked. It may not answer a more tightly put question. While I anticipate that some people will have fun downvoting it I'll leave it be as it does add to what was asked.


In the example given " ... you was ..." is definitely grammatically incorrect. However there will be exceptions which allow or appear to allow the described construct.

Having said that, now let's think of some examples :-).

The first example below does not aim to convey purposeful back-woods feel, or use usage which is now obsolete. It appears to fit your description. But, arguably, it doesn't.

This appears to do what you describe.
While the subject is a group, it's really talking about them collectovely rather than as individuals.

  • "Having had your joint entry declined, the correct action for you was to have filed an appeal using form 397.3.556A"

Here the you is plural. The speaker uses 'Gentlemen' which creates the sense both of a group of Gentlemen and also of people who are gentlemen individually. You could substitute the name of any member of the group for "gentlemen" without other change. He is speaking both to the group as a single entity and also to each member as an individual.

  • "Gentlemen, you will recall that what I told you was "Drive safely, preserve nature and always wear a helmet".
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What is the purpose of the example? "Was" is entirely right because it goes with "the correct action". Note too that "you was" is standard grammar in some dialects (just not in Standard English, whatever that is). –  Andrew Leach Nov 9 '12 at 11:38
    
And in your second example, "Was" goes with "What I told you", not "you". –  Andrew Leach Nov 9 '12 at 11:44
    
@Andrew - I don't (of course) disagree with your comments re what "was" relates to in my examples - but the question asked did not make the distinction that you are drawing. The examples do meet his criteria, even though it may be better to tighten the question so that they do not. I realised that I was answering a wider question than may have been intended, closed my edit session to review the answer and then saw your 1st comment. So I was easily able to agree with your wider point :-) –  Russell McMahon Nov 9 '12 at 11:49

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