What cases can "y'all" work in?

A prior question asks about the 'proper' usage of "y'all", but it and its answers only address nominative case (all examples are nominative).

I think that there are some cases where "y'all" doesn't work as is.

For example,

  • nominative: "Y'all come back now, ya hear?"

  • accusative: "I'll ring y'all up tomorrow after the fish fry."

  • possessive: "Bring y'all's swimsuits. The pool will be open." (or "y'allses". yes, I find this is questionable usage)

  • vocative: "Hey y'all! Where's the keg?"

  • but instrumental/dative/indirect object?: nothing sounds right.

? I'll bring the BBQ over to y'all.

? This party is all for y'all.

These don't sound right to me. The alternatives that sound right to me would be:

I'll bring the BBQ over to you all.

This party is all for you all.

Can anyone confirm my usage? Has there been a study/paper on this?

I ask because most pronouns in English have forms for different cases, so it is not given that "y'all", though a synonym for "you" which only has a different form in possessive case, would or would not have a different form.

  • 1
    @phenry I don't believe they're duplicates. This question deals with proper usage by case while the other is a question regarding using y'all to indicate a single person.
    – Dusty
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 15:41
  • 1
    @phenry: That question only covers the nominative case.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 15:43
  • All of these sound perfectly fine to me, although the BBQ I'd personal go with y'all's place instead of y'all, and the party would be for all y'all to emphasize the individuals. Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 6:24
  • @guifa that may be my poor choice of situation for the examples. The emphasis here was to see if there is an appropriate, let's say, instrumental case for "y'all" and your rewording avoids that. Of course it may be the case that people just avoid the instrumental case (indirect object, object of a preposition) because of the lexical gap (or that the situation is too rare to bother)
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


If we accept that y'all is an acceptable second person plural pronoun, they're all strictly correct (although I assume you meant "I [will] ring y'all up," and I would have to look up the rules regarding compound contractions like "y'all's").

As one raised in the Midwest by a Southern mother, they all "sound" fine to me, and I wouldn't have any problem using any of them if the situation called for it.

  • Look up the rules? I think that's the issue, that since "y'all" is common but non-standard language, it is not prescribed anywhere. Whether it has alternate forms is not really recorded well which is why I ask here and is quite a different question than the too general "Is y'all OK?".
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 22:01
  • 2
    @Mitch I hope you mean "Is y'all OK?"; otherwise I shall have to take umbrage at your ascription of general illiteracy to the users of y'all. :) Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 23:27

So, the first thing I'd note is that the usage of y'all, even throughout the Southern US, isn't terrible consistent, so one area's y'all may be another's you all. With that being said, having grown up in Western Tennessee and now currently residing in Northern Alabama (with stints in the NE and Midwest in between), I've definitely heard y'all in all the cases you have above, including the dative/indirect object type. Here are a couple examples I've heard today.

Will that work for y'all?
I gave y'all plenty of time to finish that.

I have no source to point to other than my own experience, but in general I'd say that y'all is viable in any case. It's simply a regional difference whether the 2nd person plural preference is you, you all or y'all in the various use cases.

  • To the downvoter, was there a particular point of disagreement?
    – Dusty
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 18:30

In my East Alabama dialect, y'all may be (or might be, when I was still living in the South in the 60s) the object of a preposition. Following to it elides the vowel and tends to palatalize the consequent /tj/ to /tʃ/: /aʊ⋅'sɛn⋅ɪt⋅'oʊvr⋅'tʃɔʊ⋅bə'foʊr⋅a⋅'liːv/

Y'all is (was) virtually universal in unstressed and secondary-stressed contexts, but alternates freely with you all and you when the pronoun takes sentence-primary stress.

  • !! can you translate that? "I'll send it y'all before I leave" ?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 15:56
  • @Mitch Close: "I'll send it over to y'all before I leave." There's some di- and triphthongalization omitted for easier comprehension! Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 16:03

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