The short form is pronounced as "yoll", but what is the actual spelling? Is it "y'all"? Any official mention of the spelling? Example useage: "Where are you-all going". Pronounced as "Where are yoll going". Would it be written as "Where are y'all going"?


2 Answers 2


Would it be written as "Where are y'all going"?

Yes. The apostrophe is used to stand for the letters left out.

  • But is there any official mention of the use of "y'all"?
    – Nav
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 9:21
  • 1
    @Nav, what is your definition of 'official'? :)
    – Benjol
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 10:26
  • 1
    @Nav. here is an official mention of "y'all" in dictionary.com: dictionary.reference.com/browse/y'all
    – Geoffrey
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 12:23
  • @Benjol: A dictionary mention was all I was looking for :) Geoffrey provided it.
    – Nav
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 13:04

In formal settings, "you all" is never contracted to "y'all" (or hyphenated). It is pronounced just like it looks: "you all", with no contraction.

Furthermore, "you" has come to function as both a singular and plural second-person pronoun. "You all" is typically used only when the number is ambiguous, or to emphasize that you're talking about a group of people.

Compare "You are my friend." with "You are my friends." The plurality of the object tells you whether the pronoun is singular or plural, without ever resorting to "you all".

"Y'all" is a construction limited to a couple of American dialects, particularly Southern and Western speakers. I've heard it pronounced to rhyme with "wall" (approximately--the vowel gets slightly drawn out/duplicated). There is a joke poking fun at non-prestige dialects to the effect of "Remember, y'all is singular, all y'all is plural." There is actually a bit of truth to that for the heaviest examples of the dialect. In typical usage, I believe, "y'all" is used as both a singular and plural pronoun--nicely mirroring "you" in the standard dialect.

  • 2
    I grew up in the South(ern US) and never heard this "singular y'all" usage. Is there a particular area where it occurs?
    – Dusty
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 14:32
  • I've heard it both in North Carolina and Alabama. I suppose it might have been limited cases where one addressee is the representative of a group (as in the dictionary entry linked in another comment), but I no longer remember any specific usage.
    – res
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 14:36
  • @Dusty: Wikipedia, Wiktionary. Not that it answers your question about a particular area.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 14:48
  • @Dusty: There was a discussion here on "singular y'all", and the consensus was that it might be used in Oklahoma and Arkansas (this might mean that it's used in the Ozarks). But in North Carolina and Alabama, the consensus was that it is most likely used as a representative of the group. Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 21:57

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