The simple rules of using a comma before and after the vocative case state that you write, for example, What do you, Mark, think about the book?

But what about “you guys” / “you, guys”? Or, for that matter, “you Mark”?

Are there instances where it would be correct to use a comma and instances where it can be omitted, thus altering the meaning of such a sentence?

What happens to sentences like Where are you guys?

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  • 6
    In Where are you guys?, "you" is a personal determinative. It combines with "guys" to form the subject you guys. It's the determinative counterpart of the 2nd person plural pronoun "you", and denotes a set that includes the addressee, but not the speaker. If a comma is used, as in You, the students should form a society "you" and "the students" are in supplementary apposition, and "you" has the status of a pronoun, not a determinative. – BillJ Jun 22 '16 at 12:34
  • As any Jersyite knows, it's youse guys. – Hot Licks Jun 22 '16 at 12:59
  • Y'inz Jerseyites are weird. – H.R.Rambler Jul 21 '16 at 12:26
  • @HotLicks It's not just Jersey, Liverpool's the same. – BoldBen Nov 4 '16 at 9:47
  • Consider "What do you people want?" "What are you kids doing here?" – Hot Licks Nov 4 '16 at 11:31

This comment is regarding the use of the expression when it requires no comma. When a speaker uses "you guys" as a way to address a group (which is not inclusive, by the way), then it is instead of the more formal "each of you" or simply, "you." Just as "Each of you may have dinner" does not need a comma, "You guys may have dinner" would not require a comma.


Hope this is still helpful for the OP.

What do you guys think about the book?

This just means What do you-plural think?

What do you, guys think about the book?

Doesn't work.

What do you, guys, think about the book?

This is correct. But who would say it?

Where are you guys?

This means Where are you-plural?

Where are you, guys?

This means Where are you, my friends?

  • “What do you, guys, think about the book?” doesn't sound too odd to me. It can mean either “What do you (being guys, not girls) think about the book?” or “What do you think about the book, guys?”. In the latter sense, I'd say it's probably audibly indistinguishable from just using you guys as the subject. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 4 '16 at 9:33
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - If there are enough people in the room to be using guys, I think that two pauses so close together are likely to get you interrupted. To ask the male members of the group, one would say, "What do guys think?" or "What do the guys think?" unless the males happened to be clustered in a particular area, in which case targeting them with eye contact and a gesture might make "What do you guys think?" work, although they might pick some other common characteristic instead of gender, such as, perhaps, the quiet ones, the bearded ones, the ones with glasses, etc. – aparente001 Nov 4 '16 at 13:35

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