How does "y'all" sound to a native English speaker?

Hi all! Since English is not my native language I’d like to ask anyone of you who is a native English speaker how does the word “y’all” sound to you? I know it’s a new invention for the plural “you” but is this a neutral word than can be used in all contexts - formal, informal, casual conversations, education, etc. Is this used by young people only or by all age groups? Is this used in the US mainly or also UK, Australia, Canada and other English speaking countries?

I don’t speak English everyday now and my last immersion in the language was in 2000 when I spent a whole year living in England - and back then I never heard anyone say “y’all”. Now I hear it more and more on youtube and in various online discussions.

The problem for me is that for whatever reason I have pretty bad connotations with “y’all” - it seems to me like it’s bad language, low-grade language used by lazy uneducated young people and it really hurts my ears and eyes whenever someone uses it. Even if I hear it from someone who is wise and educated I somehow feel they use it out of political correctness and degrade the language this way. But I’m aware that my perception may be totally flawed because I don’t live in an English speaking country so I’m not used to any new language trends.

Do you consider “y’all” as a low quality word or is it completely normal?


I not from the South, but y’all is general only spoken there (I think). I’m from the Midwest United States and would be taken back or thought the person was from the South if I heard it in Michigan. Speaking about dialects I have gone on vacation to the South a few times and people there thought I had a weird accent.


Y’all is used in the southern states of the US, in casual conversation. You wouldn’t hear it in other parts of the US unless from a visitor from the South, or maybe someone’s grandma who moved outside the southern region. I suspect even in the South you would not hear it in the work or educational environments, but I am not from there.

I’m in California, and if anyone used “y’all” in speaking to me, I’d look at them a bit oddly. It is not normal to hear it in any conversation here.



It’s a folksy Americanism, and not formal English. It’s best not to imitate it unless you’re joking around. We just have to quietly accept it from people who grew up saying it (and perhaps smile a little wryly).

The most important point is that in English there is not an equivalent word. I am not enough of an expert in English to know the correct terminology to describe the grammar (probably it is called a plural pronoun) but English is my only language. For those people that do not like y’all, they need to develop an equivalent that is acceptable to them and everyone else. Currently there is none. Except you can say all of you instead.

I hear and read many abuses of the English language every day. I think it is horrible. People get upset when someone attempts to educate them. In these forums a person might be critical of how someone uses HTML and/or CSS but if someone attempts to explain that English grammar is incorrect, people get upset.

There is abundant use of the word got in the present tense, especially as in you’ve got and I’ve got. I also hear got used for the present tense often.

People use the word face too often. Most people probably do not realize it.

I often see the words below and above used instead of following and preceding in places where following or preceding would be appropriate.

The word blog did not exist a couple of decades ago. It began as a shortened version of web log and was like a diary. Now it is used as a synonym for article. It is irritating for me for people to use blog for articles.

People call food spicey when it hot from chili, as if chili is the only spice.

I could make a long list of abuses such as that. It is frustrating that people make up words and make up abuses but get upset when someone tries to explain why something is a problem.

It is unfortunate that people think it is unacceptable.

Me too. I was born in California and been a legal resident my entire life, for more than half a century. I like y’all.

There are many other words, such as what I describe above, that I feel that way about but not this one.

The last time I heard y’all was back in a 1960’s TV show,

The Beverly Hillbillies

…and in it’s theme song , “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”

Closing Theme:

Bear in mind, though, that I am not from the USA. and the
information that I have posted may well be outdated to y’all.

I do live in the South, and I do hear “y’all”, fairly often. You get to a point where you dont even notice it, to be honest. It’s just a shorthand contraction, like many other shorthand slangs that other places and dialects have, in pretty much every language in the world.

You actually hear it more from the older generations than the younger ones; though it does tend towards the female gender more than the male?
It’s not used for ‘political correctness’ or ‘degrading the language’. Mostly its used because thats the way people speak.
It’s not a “new” language trend, at least by living person standards.

I wouldnt consider it “low” quality, but it certainly places your dialect. Which is something the US sometimes struggles with. Mostly the middle bit.

“Y’all come back now, y’hear?” is a saying you dont hear that often anymore, and is probably mostly reserved for television shows and the hostess at a southern cooking dining establishment at this point, just because it’s passed into cliche territory; but Y’all as a general term is fairly ubiquitous.


“Hey gang”. It’s a Collective Noun.

  • Y’all have a nice place here
  • Hey gang have a nice place here

Those are not equivalent.

I put:

You all have a nice place here.

Into each of the following and none of them complained.

And y’all is a contraction of you all. Therefore if someone says you all instead of y’all then at least they can say it is acceptable grammar.

In the South, its acceptable grammar.

(and before you grab the rock, maybe check the material of the walls around you, spell the word colour, and consider your argument against the rebuttal “and in the South, they speak Southern English.”)

I’m a Brit, living in the Southeastern US. Been there, had those arguments, and give up.

Yes there is. In little backwaters like Northern USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, etc., the word “you” does the job just perfectly. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Surely, even in southern USA, y’all is a colloquial contraction of ‘you all’ so would not usually be used in formal spoken English and would not be used at all in written English (except when quoting someone).

mmmh… generally not in formal situations (I mean like… lawyers and newsreaders and the like here). Happens in speech more often than you’d think. Written… depends. Again, it somewhat depends on the formality of the writing - if you’re jotting a note down to friends, yeah it gets used sometimes, and its used to lean into the ‘southern hospitality’ meme by businesses fairly frequently.

As an Englishman, it sounds very American. More specifically, it conjours up images of people talking in the South. Though I have never been to the USA.
The answers here seem to confirm it comes from the southern dialect.

I don’t think it’s new, but I am seeing it used more online.
I see it as a contraction of “You all”.

I would assume varying dialects and colloquialisms exist within countries all over the world. Certainly there are many within the relatively small UK.

You is singular and you all is plural. They are not equivalent.

‘You’ may refer to one person or many people. ‘You’ was originally plural and is now standard for both singular and plural. When ‘you’ was only plural ‘thou’ was the singular pronoun.

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You is ambiguous whereas you all is explicitly plural.

Thanks to all of you who participated in this thread, I learned a lot and got more comprehensive answers than I was hoping for! I didn’t know this was a regional US thing, I’m just seeing it online more and more so I began wondering what the heck…

It always puzzled me why the English language didn’t have a distinction between singular and plural ‘you’ while most other languages do. And even more weird that in old English the distinction was there (thou/you) and then people dropped it - was it no longer necessary? What was so peculiar in the English culture that people didn’t need to know for certain whether one or more people were being addressed? I know it’s hard to know answers to such questions but I like learning about peculiarities of different languages.

I find it weird though, that as a non-native speaker y’all sounds to me like language abuse. Possibly, because I’ve seen it in contexts of people quarrelling in a disrespectful way and abusing each other. I’ve also seen it used instead of your, which gets really twisted (at least to me). Now I know that if I were a Southern American y’all would sound natural to me.

For what it’s worth, the French “vous” is used the same way as “you”; both singular and plural and context is how you distinguish the difference.

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