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"?


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

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    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 Nov 23 '10 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 Nov 23 '10 at 14:36
  • @Dusty: Wikipedia, Wiktionary. Not that it answers your question about a particular area. – RegDwigнt Nov 23 '10 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. – Peter Shor Feb 1 '13 at 21:57

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