I've come across the following dialogue In Belva Plain's novel The Carousel:

- Daddy and I are going out to dinner. It's Uncle Oliver's birthday.
- You is always going out.
- No, honey. We haven't been out all week.

The usage of 'is' with 'you' is confusing me. Why does the author choose such a form of the verb in this case?

  • 1
    One of the characters in the book (as described in the blurb) is a five-year-old child; given the particular dialog, I suspect she is the character using this phrase, and the author chose it to sound like "baby-talk". Since at least one parent uses the standard verb forms, I doubt it's meant to represent dialect (generally speaking, parents and children speak the same dialect).
    – 1006a
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


Uh… if that were dialect, Mummy (Mommy) would never have said "Daddy and I…" She would have said "Daddy and me…", would she not?

"You is always going out" could very easily be either dialect or childish and either way, please look above.

Since "No, honey. We haven't been out all week" is wrong on at least one count, the writer's credentials are questionable.

Inarguably that should be "No, Honey…" with a capital "H".

There is also an argument to be made that that should be "No, Honey; we haven't been out all week" and that's a different point.


It's dialect, and furthermore, typical of AAVE, although other dialects also use it. As the author was American, I would expect it was intended to indicate that the character speaking is black even if this is not otherwise stated.

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    @WillHunting It would seem so, Will. There's Is you is or is you ain't my baby released in 1944 by Louis Jordan which, although comic in intent and effect, must have had some basis in actual usage.
    – BoldBen
    Nov 2, 2016 at 7:01
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    What about Kathryn Stockett's quote "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Nov 2, 2016 at 9:17
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    It could also be generally Southern, as in O Brother Where Art Thou's "Is you is, or is you ain't, my constituency?"
    – kindall
    Nov 2, 2016 at 17:45

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