3

I'm wondering about a certain phrase which I use without thinking about. One of my developers whose first language isn't English pointed it out, and it left me thinking if I've been saying it wrong. Essentially I'm trying to say,

Let me know what all of you think / Let me know what you all think

but I naturally say,

Let me all know what you think

When I read it slowly it sounds odd, but that could just be because I'm thinking about it now.

Anyway, is this wrong?

Mike

  • This is where you really need a second person plural pronoun: Let me know what y'all think. But y'all or you all doesn't work with a lot of English dialects. – Peter Shor Aug 20 '15 at 11:35
  • 5
    You can use you all quite naturally in a British English form of @PeterShor's phrase. – Andrew Leach Aug 20 '15 at 11:37
  • In my dialect the 2nd person pronominals can be used with imperatives: You guys let me know what you think, Y'all let me know what you think. But this will ordinarily be taken as a request for a collective opinion, and I think what OP wants is their several opinions. – StoneyB Aug 20 '15 at 12:22
  • @Peter Let me know what they all think is quite acceptable too; cohesiveness between the pronoun and all isn't that strong. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 20 '15 at 12:52
  • 2
    It looks like an attempt to do Quantifier-Float (All the boys did it => The boys all did it) in a situation where the subject is missing; in this case the 2nd person subject of Let. Also, the all winds up one clause down, preceding the verb know, which is in the complement clause of Let, not the main clause with the missing you all subject. So you're right, it's incorrect. But it's the type of immediately understandable construction that might well make it up to idiom status. – John Lawler Aug 20 '15 at 14:48
2

Let me all know what you think.

In this sentence "ALL" is an optional element (vocative) used to reflect the person(s) addressed and related to ”YOU" appearing in the later half of the sentence. Words like this occur any where in the sentence and rather, fitting it to say, evaluating lebel of 'you'.

You are, darling, incorrigible.

In the poster, LET is used in a non standard way to infuse a kind of invitation/request as in the sentence below :

°Let me see.

ALL, appearing detached from 'you',becomes a noun itself and functions like 'darling' of the example above.

It conveys the meaning--all of you tell me what you think.

I don't know how such expressions sound to native ears but Indian languages abound in such usages.

1

It's completely wrong. Stop saying it.

1

Context provides what you need if you are doing this in person.

"Let me know what you think." (If you are addressing a group, it becomes a second person plural you by context).

"Let me know what you think." (Addressing an individual, it becomes a first person singular you).

Your ESL friend is having difficulty with the lack of a different word for second person plural from second person singular in English and your attempt to get around that using your own convention. (I get where you are coming from, having heard all kinds of variations on that over the years.)

Example from Spanish: Usted (you, singular) Ustedes (you, plural).

Some regional dialect in the US get around this using "y'all," but even that suffers from "is it singular or plural" as well. Is it 'y'all" or "all y'all" and so on. My dad is from near Pittsburgh, and "yuns" (youens?) crops up in his speech now and again as a second person pronoun. "Youse guys" wasn't uncommon to hear in the dark ages when I was young).

Simple solution for your phraseology problem?

Ask people "What do you think" and let the context determine singular or plural for 'you' in each case.

  • But suppose you are addressing a single person, but are soliciting opinions from a group that he represents. How are y'all going to figure that one out from context? – Peter Shor Aug 22 '15 at 2:50
  • "What are you and your people/team/folks ..." Don't be ambiguous, be clear. Know that the English language has this little quirk, and work around it. – KorvinStarmast Aug 22 '15 at 2:54

protected by MetaEd Sep 13 '18 at 18:04

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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