An Open Letter To Yankees Regarding Use of the Word “Y’all”

Dear Northern People (and yes, we really do call you "Yankees" behind your back, but we mean it in the nicest way possible),

It would appear that many of you are beginning to desire to add the word "y’all" to your vocabulary.  I do not blame you.  It is an excellent word, rich in culture, and full of practical application.  And we Southerners are gracious (MY STARS, we are gracious).  We will share this word with you happily, because we feel should not be discriminated against just because you did not have the good sense to be born in God’s Country.

So by all means, take our word "y’all" and use it with pride.  You are just as welcome to it as you can be.  But please, please, use it properly.  An improper "y’all" use is just a slap in the face of all we hold dear, and we cannot bear it.  Here is what you need to know:

1.  "Y’all" is never, ever, ever, EVER singular.  It must refer to a group.  If you refer to one person as y’all, then, I’m sorry, but we can hear your Yankee-ness loud and clear.

2.  Even if you have a thick New York accent, you must attempt to say "y’all" with a southern accent.  "Y’all" spoken with a northern accent just does not work.  Go ahead, throw yourself into it: YA-A-A-AWL.  Please pronounce every one of those A’s.

3.  You may hear your Southern friends say "all y’all".  This is perfectly acceptable for native Southerners.  If you are a transplant, tread carefully.  In order to pull off "all y’all", you have to have some heritage behind you.

4.  Conversely, do NOT use "y’all guys."  It is just wrong.  And when you leave the room we will laugh at you, but we will be sure to tack on a "bless his heart" at the end.

5.  Let us discuss the spelling.  "Y’all" is a contraction of "you" and "all".  Therefore, the apostrophe MUST go in the place of the "ou".  It is "y’all".  Not "ya’ll".

6.  Be prepared.  If you adopt our fine word and go back home to your northern friends and family, they will give you great grief for sounding like a hillbilly.  Bear up, my friend–it is a burden we Southerners have borne for years.  Be comforted that your new word brings with it the brilliant heritage of Faulkner and O’Connor.  And also cheese grits.

165 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Yankees Regarding Use of the Word “Y’all”

  1. warillever says:

    Too funny.
    I am all Yankee (well, as much as a Red Sox fan can be, but I find myself using y’all in type all the time. English has been lacking something since we lost that thou/you distinction.

  2. Marissa @ By Grace Alone says:

    I knew I had lived in Indiana too long when I started saying “you guys” instead of y’all. I’m happy to be back in Arkansas and speaking properly again.
    Thanks for clarifying the spelling issue–that is such a pet peeve of mine when people get it wrong! 🙂

  3. Tonggu Momma says:

    I must confess that I no longer speak with a southern accent, but I did grow up in the south!!! Plus, I have a long-standing southern heritage as well — my grandma is from a holler in Tennessee. If that’s not The South, then I don’t know what is.

  4. Katie says:

    I was born and raised in Indiana, so I grew up saying “you guys.” I have spent 5 out of the last ten years living in the south though (Alabama and Kentucky ((I know, some southerners don’t count KY as the south, but we Hoosiers sure do!))) and I am friends with countless Texans, so I find myself saying “y’all” a LOT!
    My hubby learned in seminary that even the ancient Greeks had a “y’all” as part of their vocabulary. 🙂

  5. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    What if you’re a northerner transplanted in the south…that’s not really the south because most of the people who live here ARE from the north originally? Am I still allowed to use y’all? Or do I need to go with you’s.

  6. erin says:

    Bless you for mentioning number 5. It seems like very few people can spell that correctly. The apostrophe in general has fallen on hard times, if you ask me.
    Now, if you can just get everyone to realize that “alot” is NOT a word, the world will be a much more enlightened place.

  7. Jeana says:

    Okay, on the all y’all, I have to say really? I have never heard that one used, except by a Yankee who said “all of y’all” and I made fun of him. I said, “The all is included in the y’all. We may be hicks but we’re not redundant.”

  8. Heather says:

    Ya’ll are too funny! LMBO! 🙂
    I am from the north but my state has a southern accent – it’s weird for sure. But I love the word y’all. 😉

  9. chrissy says:

    Thank you for clarifying the proper place for the punctuation mark. That always bugs me.
    I say “all y’all” all the time. But I’m from Georgia so it’s okay.

  10. Natalie says:

    I’m a born and raised Oklahoma girl. I do not say y’all. I’ve never been one to say it. My mom thought it was tacky, as did her mother.
    I’ve tried to say it, but it just sounds weird coming out of my mouth.
    Oh well. I’ve not said it for 38 years. Won’t hurt me to not say it for another 38. 🙂
    Thanks for clarifying this, though. When I hear it used incorrectly, it bugs.

  11. Jenn says:

    Love this! My brother lives in Manhattan and hates when I use the word Y’all in public!! Of course, I do it anyway. You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl. Even and especially on vacation. Y’all know! I also think THANKS needs to be properly pronounced THAA-AANKS.

  12. melanie dawn says:

    THANK YOU for clarifying the spelling of y’all! And that it cannot be singular…I throw things at my tv when “Southerners” use it that way. And how hard is it to speak with a Southern accent without sounding like a moron? We do it every day! 🙂 Love your blog!!

  13. boomama says:

    I would go so far as to say that if someone is going to throw down the “all y’all” gauntlet, then he or she had better be prepared to answer the following five questions:
    1) What is a mamaw?
    2) How’s your mama and ’em?
    3) Can you hum the fight song of at least three SEC schools?
    4) Can you use the phrase “fixin’ to” correctly in a sentence, and if so, would you provide an example?
    5) What’s your recipe for sweet tea?
    Just sayin’.

  14. Sarah@Life in the Parsonage says:

    Too funny!
    I’m a full blown Yankee, and I was just telling my Southern friend, from Arkansas, that in real life, I never say y’all, I say you guys…but when blogging, I type “ya’ll” ALL the time. I have NO IDEA why. 🙂
    I’ll try to spell it correctly from now on though 😉

  15. Kristin says:

    What about Californians saying “you all” instead of “you guys.” it’s slowly seeping into my vocabulary. It’s not the full “y’all” yet. But I do now say, “grilling,” instead of “barbequeing,” and “keeping,” instead of “babysitting.”

  16. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates says:

    I’m in California, so we just say “dude” (kidding – sort of).
    We don’t use “y’all” here, but I am getting influenced and have almost used it many times on my blog – kind of the same way that I would start using an accent if I was in the South for a while.

  17. Minnesotamom says:

    From a Northerner who occasionally tosses out this word, I have great respect for those southerners who can not only use it properly but PUNCTUATE it properly. Thank you, thank you for point #5.

  18. Donna @ Thirsty? says:

    I really feel like part of your community and I was wondering if you would extend that invitation to those of us in Australia who have joined you on this blogging journey?
    I would consider trading my citizenship for the permission to use the phrase.
    🙂 Donna

  19. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers says:

    Oh, never, ever let it be said that Shannon of Rock in my Dryer fame is afraid to tackle the hot-button topics on her blog. Never, I say!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! The whole misplaced apostrophe thing is on my top ten list for worst pet peeves.
    I’m sorry. Was that a little too much enthusiasm for a post on the usage of “y’all”? It’s the Southern Girl coming out in me. 😉

  20. Melanie says:

    I am from Indiana also. I say “you guys” so everyone knows that I am a Texas transplant. Sorry, but I can’t bring myself to say y’all and I definitely am NEVER fixin to do anything and I never have doubts and think to myself, I might coulda done that instead! LOL

  21. dieMutti says:

    Hmmm… I really appreciate the lesson on correct spelling. If I see one more “ya’ll” I’ll have to go out and beat up y’all. 🙂
    I am a recent transplant to the Lone Star State and have to tell you, I hear the locals using “y’all” in a singular fashion on a regular basis. Or maybe I just think they’re using it in the singular, when really they’re using it in plural – being polite and actually referring to all my family and friends not in the near vicinity… Who knows? Maybe they are just transplants too, masquerading as locals. It happens.

  22. Steffj89 says:

    ROFL….I’m in fits of giggles here after reading the post AND the comments(particularly BooMama’s). My kids are well on their way to the SEC songs I think. OK so I exaggerate they can’t do any more than call the HOGS but heck they are only 4 and 5 y’all.

  23. Cyndi says:

    Great post. First off, far be it from me to correct a Southern authority the caliber of BooMama, but I feel the need to clarify the pronunciation of Mammanem.
    Second, Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son and a NC native) preached at our church last Sunday and said that his Mama would have jerked a knot in him if he’d missed worship. My husband, a native Yankee, looked at me astonished and said he thought that my family had made up, “Boy, I’ll jerk a knot in you if…[insert offense to be avoided].” Bless his heart.

  24. Bubba's Sis says:

    Do we have to let the Yankees use our y’all? Really? Can we still laugh at them?
    Oh wait, where’s my Southern hospitality? I’m sorry, y’all. Forgive my manners. Can I get you some sweet tea? I’m fixin’ to make some, just the way my MawMaw used to.

  25. Jane says:

    This is great! I am a Yankee…regretfully. After attending my first Southern wedding this weekend with ***TWO***cakes, I know I will not make this mistake again in my next life. No, I will come back under the Mason Dixon line. LOL Anyway, the all y’all confused me because my husband was trained in the army that if you say “Y’all” you might not get all your troops to come. You need to say “All Y’all” for a large group. Any clarification?

  26. Penny Raine says:

    Shannon, I just love you! Now we can use y’all in our everyday blog talk and know that it is now politically correct. Not that it ever stopped me before. And you’re right we do call them Yankees, if they aren’t from here, no matter where they are from. But we love em. And yes we do live in hollers here in TN. Y’all should try it, my house is cooler than yours in the summer and we don’t have AC. But we do have sweet tea. Come and see me sometime. Now I am fixin to go to bed. Night.
    blessings, Penny Raine

  27. Roxanne Kristina says:

    Here’s the deal. We feel left out. It’s not our fault y’all decided to move out west. Why? Was it really the gold? What was wrong with the East? What was wrong with the mid west. Nothing. Yet the further y’all continued west, the further we became from y’all. So it’s really not our fault. Furthermore, the further folks traveled west, it seems to me the precious value of butter, whole milk, fried foods, etc., got replaced with soy milk, whole grains, and tofu. WHAT? This is not cool people. Again, not our fault. Yet we in the west get targeted for the misuse of the clever, efficent and whitty word, “y’all”, when in reality our brain cells daily drown in caffine which cancels out the Pacific air, health food and outdoorsisms, leaving us all confused, left to crave y’all’s y’alls, if ya know what I mean.
    Roxanne from the west.

  28. Cordy says:

    The boy I’m kinda sorta dating right now is from Georgia. His accent is ADORABLE.
    Everytime I’m around him I start speaking with an accent. I can’t help it. It’s that whole thing where people who are musical pick up accents without meaning to. His sister thinks I’m making fun of him, but I honestly can’t help it.
    And I do keep saying y’all. But I say it all drawly and proper like. :>

  29. southern says:

    We just had our supper group over a few weeks ago and one of the couples is a transplant from St Louis. She went on and on about how southerners talk and pretty much was cutting us down for saying y’all and fixing to do something. She did all but say out loud that she thought that because we use a word like y’all we have no education and are illiterate. I just smiled and tried to be gracious. There are southerners who do not speak properly, outside of having an accent, but where I grew up people spoke well and were not dumb. She then asked me outright if I was offended if a child did not say, “Yes, maam” and said she didn’t like it. I told her that, yes, it does sound rude and disrespectful to me. I don’t expect it from adults, but when I am teaching a class at church they say it or I remind them to say it. I am trying to love and get along with her, but, whew, I feel like it is an uphill climb because she is so anti-southern.

  30. Lainie@ Mishmash Maggie says:

    Okay so I’ve been using “y’all” since I was a little girl.
    I’m Southern alright…Southern Californian that moved to Minnesota (pronounce that long O y’all) and now live in Oregon (Orygun).
    After reading this post I had to think about why I say y’all? My parents didn’t and still don’t. No other relatives or neighbors said it. Actually I grew up in the ghetto and I definitely don’t remember any of the Bloods or the Cryps saying “y’all.”
    So where did I get it?
    And please know, I use it correctly.
    It hit me. I was a latch-key kid. I came home from school and watched TV.
    I picked it up from the Beverly Hillbillies!!!
    I actually thought Jethro was cute!
    (I did not just type that)
    And, oh, AND I kinda wanted to be a little like Ellie May when I grew up except smart like Jane Hathaway.
    I can’t believe I still remember this stuff.
    Y’all need to be careful what you let your kids watch on TV. It could really warp ’em.

  31. Jenny says:

    I think I said “y’all” in a comment to BooMama last week – I’m in Indiana too, so I hope I used it right! I’ve heard “all y’all” plenty before – we have extended family in Arkansas and Georgia. I’ve even heard “all y’alls” before!

  32. mimi2six says:

    I think y’all is one of the most convenient words in the English language. Through the years I’ve been around several international students in exchange programs in our small town…….almost without exception they left the U.S. with y’all in their vocabulary!

  33. Kelly says:

    Thank you for my part of the favor, but after four years in North Carolina, I still can’t bring myself to even THINKING about saying it. It would stick to the roof of my mouth like peanut butter. It still irks me, though, that people spell it wrong.
    I have learned to make proper Southern tea (where I come from, if you ask for tea, you get a teacup full of the hot stuff) and fry chicken. So I guess I’m not completely lost. 😀

  34. Leanne says:

    Love y’all. It’s a great word, but we say “youse” (pronouced yooze) in Northern Ireland. Or in certain circumstances we say “all youse”.
    We also say “uns”, but not “y’uns”. Just “these’uns”, those’uns”, “them’uns”. You get the idea.

  35. Sarah @ Short Stop says:

    CRACKING UP at BooMama’s comment!
    I have used the word y’all for most of my life – I grew up in the hills of West Virginia. I use it regularly in speech, but you and BooMama have freed me get all bloggy with it, too. I’m currently transplanted in the Midwest – people look at me very strangely when I ask – “Y’all don’t have sweet tea?? Mercy.”

  36. Ottermom says:

    I’m a native Texan. We use the word y’all all the time, living in NE Oklahoma we still hear it correctly from the Okies. I also use the word fixin’ – that’s the word that gets me strange looks. Both are proper Texasspeak, by the way. Along with several other words that most northerners wouldn’t understand, including my husband’s yankee stepmom.

  37. Corey says:

    I am from the south and say all y’all also. To the reference to “all y’alls” above; that’s the possesive form, of course!

  38. Janna says:

    Thank you, thank you for #5. I have seen more people spell “y’all” as “ya’ll”, including my SOUTHERN sister (who is also a teacher – huh?). I will be passing your post along to my less souther-en friends (I am originally from Alabama and live in NC, I can add the extra syllable).
    Keep up the good work educating our friends to the North!

  39. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    I’m a Midwesterner, and I will abide by your rules for y’all. But Southerners have GOT to accept that “you guys” is gender neutral. If one more Southerner tries to correct me on that, I am going to start writing “y’all” as “ya’ll” just to drive you guys crazy.

  40. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    I am from Texas, but I am raising Yankee children. We always have to tell my four-year-old not to say “see-rup,” because everyone knows it’s “sur-up,” and that is a sure fire Yankee signal.
    My ten-year-old daughter has her own affectations, but she has the proper pronunciations of syrup and pecan down, so she’ll do.
    However, Kyle tried to say y’all recently (I don’t know why — I think it was a new word he was trying out), but he couldn’t get it. He said, “yull”, “yull.” Oh, it’s sad.

  41. Kim @ My Little Corner of History says:

    Thank you for enlightening the world to the correct spelling of “y’all.” When I see it written the other way, I question the Southern upbringing of the poor misguided soul.
    And dieMuttie, as a lifelong Texan I can assure you that your friends were asking about you, your family, your friends, your pets, and the little old lady that sits in the back pew of your church. 🙂

  42. Gabreial says:

    “Conversely, do NOT use “y’all guys.” – This cracked me up!
    Y’all come back now, Ya Here? It just has that familiar ring to it doesn’t it.
    Have a great day, thanks for making me laugh!

  43. Tara says:

    Native Northerner here. I use y’all correctly and often. And, just to add to your amusement, last week at dinner my three year old announced, “happy fall, y’all!” I guess he’s a y’all user as well! And remembered the giveaway festival from last year!

  44. Lisa@take90west says:

    Living up here is ‘you guys’ country, I get extremely strange looks when I throw out a y’all in casual conversation, but my 10 years spent living in the South have made a permanent change to my vocabulary!
    I do keep the use of the word fixin’ to the confines of my own home though!

  45. rrmama says:

    Love it, love it, love it. Being from the south is such a blessing! We have all the great sayings…y’all and fixin’ to! My family in New York loves it when they hear me talk and say just those two little words.

  46. T with Honey says:

    Someone taught me long ago to be myself, that even on my blog I should use my own voice. Plus, those are just too many rules for this lady. I’ll leave “y’all” to the true Southerners and stick to stealing your recipes.

  47. Michele says:

    I’m a yankee. Born and bred in Southern California. However, through a set of rather strange familial issues, I was with my southern grandmother for most weekends growing up. I am teased Mercilessly for my flagrant use of y’all. Correctly used, mind you. P.S. – You’ll never find better homemade cherry pie, coleslaw, and fried chicken then my grandmother, may she rest in peace.

  48. Renee says:

    I have to say that the apostrophe placement is a matter of where you are in the southern geography…I’ve been a southern girl for my whole life and have always spelled it ya’ll. To see ya’ll spelled any other way seems foreign to me…

  49. Queen of My Domain says:

    Oh this post just made my morning. There is nothing I like more than poking fun at Yankees and their lack of all things Southern. I do this while trying to educate them to our superior ways. 😉
    From the first mornin’ y’all to the last night y’all I embrace my southern heritage and all it entails. Now I’m fixin’ to go get me some more coffee and sit down a spell.
    Love your post this morning and hope all y’all have a great day!

  50. Brenda says:

    Very funny! I am from California but am surrounded by southerners and its tempting to say y’all. . but the “bless his little heart” always throws me into hysterics. Its just funny the way they (you?) say it.

  51. Lori L. says:

    As a Southerner, I am totally fascinated by ‘youse’ used by you Northerners. It is almost as illustrious as y’all, however, as y’all is a perfect conjugation, what is ‘youse’ a conjugation of? You is? Hmm…

  52. Shannon says:

    Cracking up over number one and the one about not saying guys after it. So true!!!! We really can spot an import from a mile away. And we call everyone a Yankee from Virginia on up, lol.

  53. Jennifer says:

    I lived in GA for a few years growing up and even though I didn’t really develop much of an accent I’ve never been able to shake the “y’all” thing. Its just a perfect word..what else do you say in it’s place? “you guys”? “folks”? “you people”?
    My husband hates that I say “y’all”. He says it is grammatically incorrect because the word “you” is plural…but no one ever says “you” to refer to a group of people so I think he’s full of crap.
    But I just go make him some sweet tea and all is forgiven. 😉

  54. Dusty says:

    lol! I am a proud Yankee, but married a VERY country Southern boy, so y’all has made it’s way into my vocabulary. lol. My hubby and his family even use “y’uns” as a previous commenter said.

  55. sarah says:

    I picked up y’all after going to college in the panhandle of Florida and still use it, despite the fact that I now live in Minnesota, where they have a whole different way of talking.

  56. Mandy says:

    Oh mercy. I was born and raised in KY… y’all was my first word. Kidding, but it was close.
    I love Boomama’s comment too! All southerners know “Fixin” can be used as a noun OR verb.

  57. Desi says:

    Woo, that’s right! so many people have fought me about that apostrophe! As if I dunno what I’m talkin’ about! Crazy Yanks. ^_^ ❤

  58. K Storm says:

    Thank you for #5. I posted on that sometime a couple of years ago. I even saw it misspelled on a Southern Belle tshirt. Southern Belles should know their rules of punctuation!

  59. Steph at the Red Clay Diaries says:

    I’m a California native, but I’ve been in Georgia for 11 years. I have to say that I love “y’all.”
    (I love y’all, too, but we’re talkin about grammar right now.)
    (If you got that, you get to share the Grammar Geek award with me.)
    Also love:
    Sweet Tea (and how the opposite is “Unsweet” not unsweetened. Say THAT in CA and be prepared for some funny looks.)
    “I don’t know if I’m goin to the Scarecrow Contest tomorrow, but I might could.”
    “Honey, could you mash the button for the 4th floor for me?”
    “Y’all need a buggy?” (overheard at the Piggly Wiggly)
    Finally, love:
    The fact that all three of my kids have the cutest Southern accents.

  60. Sandy Toes says:

    I am a Yankee HOWEVER my husband is a true southerner so I mix his southern words with my yankee words…I would drive you crazy!
    My mother-in-law says bless his heart…ALL the time!
    -Sandy Toes

  61. laska says:

    I use y’all for a small group, all y’all for a larger group. I tried really hard to lose my accent in high school when we moved from TN to AZ and everyone called me Crystal Gayle, and I’ll never forget the comment my husband made to me when we were in TX on our way to GA- “I thought you were making fun of that gas station attendant you were talking to, until you got in the car just now and kept speaking in that accent”. I think it scares him a little that my kids think “dad” is a two syllable word, lol.

  62. wanda says:

    That is classic FUNNY!!
    I remember growing up (I’m from south Florida) and when winter hit….the yankees took over our area. We weren’t excited to see them come (they seem to drive differently than we crazy southerners!).
    But now…….girlfriend lives in Indiana and I can’t call them yankees without thinking I’m being mean.
    Ya’ll…… sacred!
    So is…..fixin’! As in, I’m fixin to come over there now!
    Oh….and yes ma’am and no ma’am! It’s rude not to use those manners!

  63. Kathy C. says:

    Oh I love it!!! Being a born and bred Texan gal y’all is part of my heritage. I love the sweet sound of it coming out of my mouth, lol. Sadly, it has been lost since I’ve lived in Florida for so long – maybe I need to chat on the phone more with my Texan friends and get back to my roots, LOL. 🙂

  64. Shannon says:

    oh. my. word.! y’all are too funny!
    From the commentary to all those wonderful comments!
    Thanks for the chuckle!
    from a true GRITS (Girl Raised in the South) girl.
    And as for sweet tea, if it caint git up and walk away on its own- it’s not sweet enough…..
    and what about the y’nt to?

  65. rachel says:

    thanks for saying what needed to be said! I tried for years to hide my “y’all”‘s, but it just doesn’t happen. Glad to be back in Arkansas, where y’all is used frequently and well : )

  66. Leanne from Canada says:

    I suppose we are more a product of our environment than we realize!! Up here in B.C. I don’t even realize that I say “eh”…until it’s pointed out to me. I could swear I never use it. What can a girl do eh? I’m more than willing to share though…nothing territorial here folks. Y’all have a great day eh!!!

  67. Renee says:

    this post was great! I love your blog! I am from Cali and say you guys even when talking to a room full of ladies…. my husband is from the south and will always say thoes are girls…lol … I have lived in the south now for 7 yrs and I thought I would pick up on Y’all but you guys is stuck with me for life I guess…. when I moved to the south I found alot of sayings I had to ask “huh” to … My husband says the bottom fell out over here…Meaning it rained really hard… I had a lady call me and ask if I collected “what-nots” aka”nick-knacks” I could go on forever! I love living in the south!

  68. Sandi says:

    My husband’s Mother and Grandmother would say you’ens!!! They also called a cookware “Pot” a “stewer” but they pronounced it “Stirrer”! They also put a r in the word “Wash”!! He is from a place where there are more gravel roads than paved and I could walk 2 blocks and be at school or a 7 11 store!!! But we are like Peas and Carrots!!!

  69. kr says:

    WOW, thank you so much! #5 is my all time pet peeve… when it’s spelled wrong I know it’s not a southerner that wrote it! I am a true Texan, born and raised here and I thank you for this post! Bless your heart!

  70. Amy @ MomsToolbox says:

    My dear, sweet parents, who did not have the privilege of growing up in the South, have chided my y’alls (and an occasional drawl) for years. I just feel so absolutely fortunate that they got me to Texas at just the right time in my development so that I can use the word properly. And I cringe when I see it misspelled or misused. Thanks for upholding the high standards of this gem for us all.

  71. The Girl Next Door says:

    OH this is good! I grew up a damned Yankee saying “you guys” which ticked off the females in my world. then I moved south and discovered no one – except maybe Yankees so who cares – gets upset by y’all.
    Love it.

  72. jen says:

    I grew up saying “youse” but my college friends ridiculed it out of me. Funny though I haven’t heard it in a long time.

  73. Carolina Mama says:

    Well done! It’s funny the “y’all” craze from folks everywhere. You don’t catch Southerners using “you guys.” I tried it ‘up north’ with my cuzzies and I have since confessed and corrected my ways! It never felt right. 🙂
    With a degree in English, thanks for the spelling, seems lately I’ve gone distracted and inconsistent in my um hum spelling. 🙂 Now we’ve got it in black and white!
    I grew up with “y’all” spelling. Of course, being a New Orleans native, we also used “Whodat?” and “Whereyat?”
    People usually don’t mimick those.

  74. Jennifer (Et Tu?) says:

    Fantastic post. However, I have an important question that I have pondered many times that you may be just the person to answer:
    What is the plural possessive of y’all? Y’all’s?
    Just the other day I was emailing some friends and said, “We could either do dinner here or at y’all’s place,” and I wasn’t sure if I used the apostrophe correctly. (And no, switching to the yankee “your place” was not an option.) 🙂

  75. Erica (A Yankee In Jawja) says:

    I always thought it was ya’ll. As in “ya all,” therefore, eliminating the unnecessary A & joining them with an apostrophe like: Don’t (do not) Can’t (can not) Won’t (would not).
    Thanks for the grammar lesson! 😉

  76. little erin says:

    this is probably one of the greatest blogs i have read in quite some time! and i am a first time reader.
    I am a “yankee”, although, i do prefer to be called a “member of the red sox nation”. Anyway, all jokes aside, i loved down south for quite some time, and befriended the word y’all. it is probably one of my favorite words in the english language! i’ve been back in massachusetts for about 2 years now, but refuse to give up my “y’all”. I get teased about it frequently (which makes so sense since yankees are always trying to rush, rush, rush and get things done in half the time- y’all is sooo much quicker than you all, or all of you, etc!!!) but refuse to stop using it. there are quite a few northerners who make shoddy attempts at saying y’all. nothing drives me crazier than that!!!!!!!!!

  77. Christa @ No End in Site says:

    Many of the commenters above correctly stated that, here in Indiana, we say “you guys” all the time. Since I live in northwest Indiana, though, we’re considered Chicagoland. In Chicago, they often say (I’m not kidding) “yous guys.” I’m so torn… which should I use?! 😉

  78. Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart says:

    I recently lived in NW Arkansas for three years. However, despite my newfound love of all things southern, including the word “y’all,” I can’t seem to bring myself to actually use the word. It seems as though I have no right to it. I know that sounds crazy, but I just. can’t. do. it.
    Great post, Shannon.

  79. Melanie says:

    So, I’m glad to have the final word on the apostropher, because my southern MIL spells it ya’ll, but I always thought it should be y’all, but I’m a darn yankeee and would never try to correct her.

  80. Jana says:

    Thank you for #5! I’m a native Oklahoman but live in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m married to a New Jersey guy. He doesn’t make fun of the “y’all.” However, he does give me a hard time about “fixin’ to.” Punk. I’ve lived here for 11 years and still get asked almost daily “Where are you from?” I usually answer, “South Seattle.” Huh. Let’em chew on that for a while. My poor boys all have Oklahoma accents. Oh, if only they could visit the Promised Land more often! Go OU! Beat those durn Longhorns!

  81. Miss Mel says:

    I will NEVER use the word… I’m a Yankee, and okay with that. 🙂
    However. I have friends from the south who use “Y’all” as a singular word. It. Drives. Me. Crazy!!!!!
    I’m glad to see you can at least use the word the way it’s intended it to be. =)

  82. Laura says:

    Thanks so much for making sure to include the part about spelling. I am a Texan and even some of my Texan friends don’t spell this word right, and it drives me nuts! And I see that the person above me wrote the exact same thing, so okay then.

  83. Kara says:

    This is great! When I was in middle school we moved from Georgia (ya’ll country) to south Florida. Everyone made fun of me so much I quickly lost the ya’ll and then two years later we moved to Texas where we were back to saying ya’ll again:)

  84. becca says:

    THANK YOU for addressing the ridiculous misspelling of “y’all.” Why would someone spell it “ya’ll?” That really gets on my nerves, but I never correct my fellow Southerners because of my Southern graciousness, of course!

  85. Erica says:

    I’m a yank, and I use y’all all the time. I’m a teacher, and my students always ask if I’m Southern because of it. 🙂 I’m using it right, though; I’m doing y’all proud!

  86. Candace says:

    OK I have to touch base on a few points in the comments lol. Boomama I live in Georgia and I occassionally will bust out with an all y’all. Now I am fixin’ to tell you about how I make sweet tea lol. Nah just kidding but I could seriously, I make some fabulous sweet tea. A friend comes to my house sometimes just to grab a glass of tea.
    Cyndi ~ The Jerk a knot in your tail thing cracked me up. I have recently become an expert on the movie “Jungle Book”. If you watch it you will see that Blu threatens to do that to the monkeys when they take Mowgli.
    Back to the original post I for some reason do not use the word y’all a lot when I blog. Don’t know why! Maybe I have been afraid of misspelling it!

  87. Marla Taviano says:

    Okay, time for some honesty.
    I used to be a little jealous of you Southerners and your cute ways and big humor and gracious hospitality and darling little speech patterns.
    Now I’m starting to see the not-so-nice side of you all. Air of superiority. Pride in your perfected use of incorrect grammar. Making fun of people who talk differently than you. Making unfair assumptions about people north of the Mason-Dixon (Dixie? whatever.).
    Shame on you.
    Please tell me I’ve misread you, and you really are all syrupy-sweet and gracious and hospitable and darling.
    I want to love you. And be loved in return.
    Is that too much to ask, you guys??
    Marla from Ohio

  88. Hillary says:

    I have a friend in Texas- who shall remain nameless- who uses “y’all” in place of “your”. For example, “I can’t wait to see y’all house”. It’s just wrong and I don’t know how to tell her. She’s from the South. Her mama went astray somewhere. I think I’ll create a hotmail account and send her an anonymous link to this post and reference #1.
    Thanks! Hilarious! Perfectly explained for Yankees and Southerners gone wrong.

  89. Mary Wiedenhaupt says:

    My granddaughter, aged 13 visited from AZ 2 years ago and confided to Grandpa before she left that she caught herself “almost saying y’all!” Hilarious! Y’all is practical.

  90. Erin says:

    ROFL! I am a Yankee transplated south of the Mason Dixon Line (and loving it.) I’m fighting hard the accent battle but am loosing a little more every day, for myself and my kids. Might as well surrender and join y’all.

  91. Stephanie says:

    I was born and raised in Alabama, and moved to NM for over 20 years, during which time the consonants came creeping back into my words.
    Not good.
    It was only when I was tired, stressed, or had been talking to family back home that the Southern came out.
    Such as when we were in a code blue situation, I had the paddles, and called out “Clear, y’all!”
    Never did live that one down.
    But then, no one got hurt, either.

  92. robin says:

    Hi! Ok, you are hysterical! I’ll come back and comment some more later but wanted to say…
    You’ve been tagged!
    (and you don’t have to respond to it if you’ve already done this)
    I LOOOOOVE your blog and was so happy when you returned after the summer!

  93. Krista says:

    This Yankee thinks you’re hilarious! But I have a question about #1…. once while traveling in Texas (that is considered South, right?) Several times I heard y’all used when referring to a single person.
    While standing near a buffet table I noticed the silverware had run out so I asked the server for some more. His reply– I’ll get y’all some more…. I was standing there completely by myself.
    Any thoughts? Maybe he was just a Yankee transplant who had yet to perfect his usage of y’all.

  94. desi says:

    clap, clap, clap,
    thank you, thank you, thank you.
    You have put my VERY thoughts into words.
    This is my #1 pet peeve, living here on the out skirts of Atlanta (which at this point is just a suburb of NEW JERSY!)
    tHANK YOU!

  95. Poppyseed says:

    OH MY, but you have hit upon one of my most dearly held pet peeves. WHY, OH WHY can people not spell y’all correctly? Thank you for making an attempt to enlighten those without a proper Southern education. 🙂

  96. Kerry says:

    My hubby adds, and quite appropriately I think, that yankees using “all y’all” will be helped by understanding that “all y’all” is really the most emphatic use of “y’all”. It helps one make a very important point, like, “All y’all can kiss my GRITS.” 🙂

  97. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    BooMama, crack me up.
    I tend to type y’all, but I don’t tend to say it. I am a Northerner all the way, and can’t make that word sound how it’s supposed to sound.
    I need to go embrace my Pacific Northwest flannel or somethin’.

  98. Amanda says:

    I was born in Grand Rapids, MI but moved to AZ when I was 11. I understand completely that I am a South Westerner and not a Southerner. I just wanted you to know that I have been incorporating the fine southern word “y’all” into my daily language for nearly a year now and have actually been using it correctly even without first researching it’s proper use.
    Hmm…makes me wonder if someone along my family tree was a southerner. How else can one explain my natural ability to use it correctly? It must be in my DNA.
    I even throw a bit of southern accent into it and refer to it as “the Britney Spears in me”. 😉

  99. NerdMom says:

    I love it!!! I am a born and bred Cali girl but I use y’all quite frequently. I stand upon my heritage for justification! My mom’s family is from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. I used to go to the family reunions (here in California) and would go back to school on Monday with an accent. I have always used it and am not planning on stopping. It smooths out my rough edges. But my favorite for sending people over the edge is “Shalom y’all”;)

  100. Linda Sue says:

    I so deeply appreciate someone standing firmly for the proper grammatical use of southern dialect. If we continue to allow rampant misuse of y’all – well the next thing will be some Yankee calling himself Bubba trying to be a NASCAR racer – it just isn’t right. We love’em but there are standards to uphold – :::chuckling as I keyboard::::: my beloved had the misfortune of being born in the upper half of the USA but rectified it when he came to full maturity!

  101. prasti says:

    LOL! i love the tips. too funny! i have some friends from arkansas that use “ya’ll” often, and if i’m around them for long periods of time it starts rubbing off on me :).

  102. Megan says:

    I grew up with the “all y’all” and thought it was normal. *grin* Lived in Colorado for 10 years and realized maybe it wasn’t. Now I’m back in Missouri and my entire family has been surprised it has made a re-entrance into my vocabulary. I’ve been a little surprised too.
    It’s like riding a bike. Or something…

  103. Bailey's Leaf says:

    I am from Ohio. I say y’all sometimes. You would be glad to know that I really do follow the rules, as listed, and even put the bless his/her heart in there from time to time. I even added that last week when a wife was explaining the loss of her husband’s wedding ring. She didn’t appreciate my “bless his heart” and added a dirty look. My comment was, “I’m sure that he was do upset!”
    Thanks for the lesson, though. And when y’all come up north, just know that soda, coke or the like are POP and that we list it out in formal flavors. Thankyouverymuch.

  104. Sta says:

    As a Michigan girl, I say, you can keep your “y’all!” Maybe I’m just too far north, but it still sounds absolutely foreign to me!

  105. Pat Callahan says:

    Truly one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. I miss my southern grandma & pa (and her incredible country ham & gravy, biscuits, coke cake, etc.)
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

  106. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says:

    Southerner here, born and raised (but no longer living in the South). I can attest to the use of the word “ya’ll” and to its vast appeal. I can also say that unfortunately, if it is not used often, it does seem to disappear from one’s vocabulary. This post is a good reminder that I need to get back to my southern roots! 🙂

  107. Micha says:

    I lived the first 14 3/4 years of my life about an hour from LA then we moved about 20 minutes from my mom’s hometown in Alabama. When we first moved I still used the Californian “you guys” then after about a year that turned into y’all. Oh and there is a long “a” in the pronunciation. It’s not yuh-all

  108. Kristen@nosmallthing says:

    This is fantastic! I grew up in VA, which is as close to yankee country as you can get…I even think NoVA is kind of pseudo-yankee country. But I’m considering my self a southerner, anyway. I never knew so many people mis-used the y’all. 🙂 Bless their little ignorant hearts.

  109. Lynnet says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I use ya’ll way too much – even when I type! Thanks for a smile in the middle of the week! I must agree about needing a pedigree to use Ya’ll and let’s be proud of it!

  110. SortinItAllOut says:

    This is funny–I lived in the south for a spell and find that y’all is a great word in type-when nothing else quite fits.
    Also, Veronica mentioned “y’uns”–I grew up in a town where that was acceptable slang–but it never caught on with my family. We lived there for about 15 years, but we weren’t natives 🙂
    “Y’uns” is one I will just never use. I can just imagine my Grandmother’s face if I ever said that!

  111. Marci says:

    Thanks for a very timely post on one of my favorite subjects.
    We moved to Texas from California this year and my dd forbids me to use “y’all.” I actually used it in CA quite often before coming here. She says I say it differently now, like a Texan. I tell her it is a very efficient contraction and that it grieves me greatly that now I’m a full-blown southerner and can’t use my beloved “y’all.” And I knew how to spell it all along.

  112. Dani says:

    I’m laughing so hard! I’m from the DEEP SOUTH and did NOT know that I have been spelling this word wrong for many many years. I’m so devistated right now. I mean… I have posted on my blog many times using ya’ll. I will now have to post explaining that I’m a southern person that has no idea how to spell our signature word!
    Please forgive my ignorance!

  113. Mary B says:

    As a Michigander I would never dare use the word. But, I just about died a few weeks ago when I was at a women’s ministry meeting at church. We had a newer member there who had come from Texas, she said ya’ll, and I just about died!
    I’ve seen it written so many times on the blogs, but to actually hear it was better!

  114. Smellyann says:

    Regarding #1: I disagree. About 20 years ago, we vacationed in rural North Carolina, and (coming from New York) were repeatedly amused to find ourselves singularly addressed, when alone and not with each other, as “y’all.” I found it hilarious.
    Also, THANK YOU for correcting the spelling; I see it wrong all the time, and it drives me crazy. I’m glad to see y’all fixin’ it.

  115. Lowell Stoltzfus says:

    In eastern Pennsylvania, we often say, “You’unz” as the grammatical equivalent of “Y’all”. (“You’unz” is pronounced as one long syllable. I am unsure on spelling). I like “Y’all” better, “You’unz” is just too harsh sounding.

  116. Greg says:

    Ahhh… I’ve been saying for years that y’all was a contraction of “you all” and therefore, should be spelled “y’all” not the “ya’ll” (which is a contraction of what? ya all!?) — I’m so glad other people agree. 🙂 Thanks for an entertaining read.

Leave a Reply to Headless Mom Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s