I know that "y'all" and "you all" are common in many English dialects and are often used as pronouns. Are there any dialects in which the number marking of the second person pronoun has become obligatory? That is, I'm looking for dialects in which "you" (or something similar) always refers to the 2nd person singular, and the 2nd person plural is always expressed with something similar to "y'all".

  • 2
    In my youth, youse (as in youse guys or on its own; rhymes with booze) was frequently used for the plural of you, while (for those speakers), you was singular. This however was a dialect that suggested a lack of education. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 19:42
  • Well, I suppose no standard of written English accepts this distinction, so it's not strange that such dialects are regarded as uneducated. So, did these speakers say you exclusively in cases when they referred to one person?
    – michau
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 19:50
  • Yes; to quote Inspector Clouseau, Zat is what I said. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 19:56
  • Which dialect is that, then?
    – michau
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 21:29
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    Poorly-educated (working class?) suburban Toronto in the 1950s. Or do you mean Inspector Clouseau's faux français? Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Hiberno-English, which is the set of dialects natively written and spoken in Ireland, distinguishes between singular and plural second-person pronoun. Depending on the region, the plural pronoun can be "ye", "youse", or "yiz".

Mirroring Irish, and almost every other Indo European language, the plural you is also distinguished from the singular in Hiberno-English, normally by use of the otherwise archaic English word ye; the word yous (sometimes written as youse) also occurs, but primarily only in Dublin and across Ulster. In addition, in some areas in Leinster, north Connacht and parts of Ulster, the hybrid word ye-s, pronounced "yiz", may be used. The pronunciation differs with that of the northwestern and the Leinster pronunciation.

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