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I am trying to write one of my first stories right now and I keep getting stuck on one thing. I have lived in Texas my whole life and so I am used to saying "Y'all" to refer to a group small or large. However the story I am writing is set in Chicago, and I need help finding alternatives. Not "you guys or you all."

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    What's wrong with "you guys"? I hear that a fair bit around the Midwest. – eyeballfrog Jan 11 at 22:09
  • how about ladies and gentleman, guys, people... guys is probably best – Rowyn Alloway Jan 13 at 19:08
  • Too bad it's not set on Long Island. Youse could use "youse" then. – Spencer Jan 14 at 23:37
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According to dialect maps created in 2013 by Joshua Katz, the majority people in the Chicago area report that they usually use "you guys" to "describe groups of two or more". In these areas, "guys" is almost always gender neutral as a form of address and is also used without "you", as in "hey guys". (See Is “guy” gender-neutral?)

The Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes (ongoing) has an interactive map where each response is plotted on the map. Just eyeballing it, again "you guys" is shown as being the most popular in the Chicago area, with "you" also being popular. There were also quite a few people there who reported using "you people" or "all of you".

You may also be interested in checking out the Harvard Dialect Survey (2003).


In any case you should write the best you can, then have your work reviewed/critiqued by someone who speaks that dialect. You've rightly identified one way that you need to change your writing and there may be more that you don't know about.

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    You can also do further research by reading other works set in/written by people from Chicago. – Arcanist Lupus Jan 13 at 18:30
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In the South, the plural of "you" is "you all" or "y'all". In parts of New York, the plural of "you" is "yous". In the rest of the United States, the plural of "you" is "you".

I said to Bob, "You should do this."

I said to Bob and Fred, "You should do this."

I gladly yield if someone is aware of another regional variation on this, or who can say if there is some other word for plural you in other English-speaking countries.

Just to toss in an amusing tidbit: I read a book on grammar once where the writer mentioned that in English we use the same word for singular "you" and plural "you", and that this can create ambiguity. For example, he said, when he was in college, he approached his girlfriend while she was talking with a bunch of other people and asked her to go on a weekend trip with him that he hoped would be romantic. He addressed his invitation to you singular, this one girl, but the others there thought he meant you plural, everyone present. He ended up taking a carload of people on this outing, not at all what he intended.

  • The proper New York spelling is Youse. Wikipedia lists this variation as used in NYC and Chicago. In formal English, the second person plural (speaking to more than one person) is formally "you" (other European Languages have a formal You, which is usually the same word as the second person plural used to address a singular, but because the word doesn't change in English... we do or don't have it. We do have a Royal We.). Youse Guys is another variant... though it's like "All y'all" which is talking to y'all but more y'alls than typical. – hszmv Jan 11 at 21:56
  • @hszmv I grew up in New York, I heard "youse" (to use your spelling) many times but I never saw it written. I'll take your word for it. :-) – Jay Jan 12 at 15:33
  • Yes, many languages have separate words for singular and plural "you". (Not to mention that some also distinguish masculine, feminine, and neuter.) Like in Hebrew, 2nd person masculine singular is "atah", masculine plural is "ataem", feminine singular is "at", and feminine plural is "ataen". – Jay Jan 12 at 15:35
  • i think this is exclusive to the City™️. i’m from rural long island, and everyone just says “y’all” – taylor swift Jan 14 at 0:49
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    "In the rest of the United States, the plural of "you" is "you". There are quite a few plural forms found colloquially in the rest of the US; there's at least yinz/you-uns and you guys in addition to y'all and youse. – Mark Beadles Jan 14 at 14:47
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A lot depends on context, who the speaker is and who they are speaking to.

In a formal context, business or with people you don't know, then second person nominative plural is:

'you'

(that's what the standard is).

If informal, and this is more common nowadays even in formerly ore formal contexts, in the Chicago area.

'you guys' or 'guys'

is the usual. Also 'you all' or 'everyone' will work.

If AAE (mostly black, south side or west),

y'all

is often used.

Most likely you'll want to use 'you', but consider the others depending on context.

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