37

What is the proper way to address a light email/message to a small group of 2-or-3 people, where the group includes both sexes? I normally just use the term "guys" as in "Hey guys" or "Good morning guys".

However, I'm wondering if I'm alienating the female(s) in the group. With a larger group, I would just use the term "all" as in "Good morning all", but that seems strange when I'm only writing to a couple of people.

Any alternatives?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, Fattie, MetaEd, user140086, 568ml May 7 '16 at 10:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 15
    Related: Is "guy" gender-neutral?. – Dan Bron May 2 '16 at 14:33
  • 3
    "all" does not seem strange to me, usually when I write an e-mail that is addressed to several people I use "all" or the name of their team/entity/organization, if it's addressed to one or two and the rest are just in copy I call them by name, e.g. Hello Mark, Elli,. – Mystic Odin May 2 '16 at 14:46
  • 1
    I assume you're talking about co-workers, right? – Mystic Odin May 2 '16 at 14:49
  • Define "proper way". POB – Drew May 2 '16 at 18:14
  • Related, possibly duplicate: english.stackexchange.com/questions/3700/… – Marthaª May 2 '16 at 21:49

22 Answers 22

61

I have replaced "guys" and "you guys" with "everyone" in my day-to-day speech:

Hey, everyone, how's it going?

What is everyone up to this weekend?

Good morning, everyone. Today we are going to talk about gender-neutral substitutions in our everyday speech.

That's very similar to replacing "guys" with all or you all (or even y'all). If all or everyone seems too "big" for just two people, then you could substitute both.

How are you both doing this morning?

  • 19
    Use y'all for small groups, all y'all for large groups. – Umberto P. May 2 '16 at 18:52
  • 20
    @UmbertoP. No. Y'all is used to refer to a group, collectively. If "y'all have $100", then regardless how many of y'all there are, there's a total of $100. All (of) y'all refers to a group, individually. If "all y'all have $100" and y'all're five, then there's a total of $500. This is identical to how they/we and all (of) them/us works. – guifa May 3 '16 at 16:10
  • 3
    @UmbertoP. "All y'all" is not used simply "for large groups", it is used as Guifa explained. – Kevin May 3 '16 at 16:50
  • 1
    @guifa +1. Very nice. – Umberto P. May 3 '16 at 21:54
59

You could try folks

Folks is many a politicians’ favored term for people. It’s class-neutral and gender-neutral. In a country that uses y’all, you guys, youse, and yinz, it is confidently American, but neighborhood-neutral. It is informal. It is cuddly. A politician represents his constituents. He thinks about the people. But he cares for folks — all you folks, including you there in the back.

Barack Obama: "We Tortured Some Folks"

Some people use folks when addressing a group of people in an informal way. This use is more common in American English than in British English.

That's all for tonight, folks.

They saw me drive out of town taking you folks up to McCaslin.

Collins COBUILD English Usage

  • 17
    'Folks' is used by some, but is not common and sounds very ... folksy. – Mitch May 2 '16 at 17:39
  • 5
    @Mitch Yeah, it's perfect for a pandering politician, but I don't think I'd address an e-mail to coworkers that way. – reirab May 2 '16 at 18:11
  • 4
    Rumsfeld ruined 'folks' for me in the same way A Clockwork Orange ruined Singing in the Rain. – Spehro Pefhany May 2 '16 at 19:46
  • 11
    I used folks way before it was ruined, and I refuse to let it go. What am I supposed to say? The politicians glommed on to it because it's something warm, friendly Southerners say, and it's harder to make it sound bad, unless you say something stupid like "we tortured some folks". I use folks because I am actually friendly, Southern, and sincere. I hate that my culture has been stolen and used for pandering. @ab2 why are only rural folks allowed to talk like a Southerner? Or is that code for ignorant? – ColleenV May 2 '16 at 20:04
  • 3
    Folks is very common here. I use it all the time, as do various folks I work with and speak to. – Rory Alsop May 4 '16 at 9:12
32

Everyone and all work well here for me. I frequently have to write such emails for a weekly social gathering, and both have served me well.

Hey, all!

Good morning all!

Hey everyone!

Good morning, everyone!

(Inconsistent commas slightly intentional: this is informal writing, after all.)

In cases where all seems wrong because of the number of addressees, I've made it extra-informal by altering it to y’all, which makes it slightly humourous when sent to only two people…

Good morning y’all!

… or simply used no word at all, which is particularly justifiable as an informal written greeting:

Hey!

Good morning!

  • +1 for the All part, I always start emails to multiple recipients with whom I've had contact with "All," – USER_8675309 May 5 '16 at 17:28
22

Plumbing the arcane depths of the English language, I proffer hello:

Used as a greeting or to begin a telephone conversation

I have studied critical theory at post-graduate level and cannot think of any way that it could offend, marginalise or contribute to ideological constructs of gender oppression, and so could be deployed safely under the given circumstances.

  • OMG you're offending the Differently Greeting Challenged DGBTQWTF!! – Tobia May 4 '16 at 23:42
16

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (CALD),

guys [plural] MAINLY US

used to address a group of people of either sex


Alternatively, you can use people to address the group.

Also from the CALD,

people [plural]

used to refer to everyone, or informally to the group that you are speaking to

  • 4
    Cool, please quote and summarize the relevant material from those sources. Links are unfortunately susceptible to link rot, and we're trying to build something for the future here. For more details about quoting sources, see the primary policy described on MSE. – Dan Bron May 2 '16 at 14:38
  • 12
    Note that the use of guys for a mixed-gender group can be controversial, and some may find it objectionable. – Nate Eldredge May 2 '16 at 15:56
  • 25
    @NateEldredge Some may find it objectionable. Specifically, the people who go around looking for things to find objectionable. Personally, I find those people objectionable. – reirab May 2 '16 at 18:13
  • 12
    @reirab: Our respective personal opinions on this usage are neither here nor there. But somebody who's considering using it should, at the very least, be aware of how others may receive it. – Nate Eldredge May 2 '16 at 18:23
  • 11
    @reirab You can either stand up for your right to use "guys" in a gender-neutral way or you can communicate effectively with women who don't like to be addressed as "guys". It's your choice but you can't have both. – David Richerby May 2 '16 at 23:46
7

Why do you need any noun at all?

Hi,

Problem solved!

4

If you're addressing a group that could benefit from stronger group identity, consider referring to the group as "group", "team", "gang", etc. For example, "Good morning, team!" or "Howdy, gang." If the group has a name, just use that name: "Hey, Jackals!"

This approach is not only gender neutral, it also drives home the point that your message is equally important to every person receiving it, and that each one should consider themselves an acknowledged part of the greater unit.

3

I just tend to say

Hi, you three!

(or two). Four or more I tend to use

Hi all!

  • 4
    The most common I have seen in US corporate email is Hi All, – AbraCadaver May 2 '16 at 15:30
  • Wow! Down voters, why?!?!? – Peter K. May 4 '16 at 11:07
  • 1
    you three to me sounds like an elementary school teacher addressing a group of possibly misbehaving kids - you three - cut it out!. I would never use this in a professional context. Very easy for this to sound patronizing. – J... May 4 '16 at 13:00
  • @J... Thanks! It doesn't have that connotation for me, but I can see where you're coming from. – Peter K. May 4 '16 at 13:01
  • Not my downvote, btw, but if I had to guess... – J... May 4 '16 at 13:02
2

The word people works, of course, and can be made informal as peeps.

Hello, people!
Hi peeps!

1

While probably not my first choice for the workplace, I had to manage a group of students at school that required group e-mails. My go-to salutation for these fine folks was

Hey Gang,

I like it because it's casual, inclusive, and lets me pretend that I am Freddy from Scooby-Doo.

0

Similar to 568ml 's answer above, I usually avoid the problem by skipping the greeting altogether.

Rather than:

Good morning [fill in something here]. We'll be having a team meeting at 10:00 AM.

I usually just write:

We'll be having a team meeting at 10:00 AM.

I'm sure it makes me come across as stiff and unfriendly, but it seems to beat the alternative.

0

I know 'Everyone' was offered by Todd Wilcox but I'd like to offer 'Everybody'.

"Hi everybody!" -Dr. Nick Riviera

"Hey everybody!"

"Hello everybody,"

If the context is an email, then perhaps you should also consider 'whom'

"To whom it may concern,"

"For those whom this affects,"

0

Everyone

For example:

"Good news, Everyone!"

It's used to address to a small group of 2-or-3 people, where the group includes both sexes... and a robot... and a lobster.

0

If you're in a formal setting, what about addressing the room "Good morning/afternoon everybody/everyone"?

0

If you're really just writing to two or three people, why not just greet them by name? For example,

Hello Pat, Chris, and Alex:

I have found this greeting especially helpful when the email is addressed to a few people but is copied to a larger group; it alerts the people who received copies that the email is not actually addressed directly to them.

For a larger group, "people" is a generic word. Alternatively, if the addressees all have some role in common, you could use that:

Hello ABC development team:

(which works even for two people, if that's the entire team) or

Hello fellow accountants:

0

'Guys' is not gender-specific unless you have someone in the group who wants to make an issue out of it.

Common terms I see in light-hearted greetings in England include:

  • Hi team
  • Hey gang
  • Hello all
  • Hi everyone
  • Or just "Hello" / "Hi" :)
0

On the informal side:

  • Campers (in the morning: Good morning campers!)
  • Fellas (in context: Howdy fellas!)
0

If you are referring to a team, you can refer its members as "friends" (however small it may be and irrespective of it being composed of any number of male or female members), such as:

Hello/Hi friends! How is it going?

-1

You can use a simple "you", as a plural.

Example:

  • "Good morning to you."
  • 1
    It would be better to say "... all of you". – rghome May 3 '16 at 14:35
  • Maybe it's just because I'm from the US South, but this greeting comes off sounding exclusively singular, despite the theoretical plural meaning. – guifa May 3 '16 at 16:15
-1

Just use ye. Ye is still the only word in most English dictionaries across all dialects defined as the standard 2nd person plural.

  • 3
    Being marked as “obsolete” in all but a few rare or ecclesiastical dialects is somewhat incompatible with the assertion that it's standard across all dialects. – SevenSidedDie May 3 '16 at 20:06
-2

Ladies and Gentlemen

Be sure to always mention ladies first, not just out of chivalry but because "Gentlemen and Ladies" sounds strange.

Case (pun intended) in point:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury...

-Thousands of examples

So if your audience is between 6 and 12 people of mixed gender who you want to get your point across to, this is not a terrible way to address them; nor is it one without precedent nor successful results.

Maybe this is better in person than in print, but it's still appropriate and timeless.

  • 5
    I'd personally find this usage awkward in an e-mail, unless perhaps it was perhaps for some kind of formal-ish event (e.g. an invitation to something like a wedding or formal party.) – reirab May 2 '16 at 18:40
  • I recommend extending this answer to include similar forms that are more casual, e.g. "guys and gals", "boys and girls". – talrnu May 3 '16 at 2:27
-3

Happy Monday, (or whatever day of the week it is).

Yeah, you might not actually be happy that it is Monday, but still it sounds good, and not out of place as the start of an email.

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