Y’all Need To Stop Using Y’all Wrong, Y’all
Originally being from Texas (I'm officially a Louisianan now), I get my boot cut jeans in a twist whenever I hear someone use the word “y’all” the wrong way. I know it’s not a term exclusive to Texas or anything, but people over there tend to use it almost as much as everyone here in Louisiana adds the word "geaux" to everything.
Over the weekend, I took to Twitter to vent my frustration over hearing y’all used incorrectly, and ended up igniting a bit of a firestorm along the lines of that crazy blue/gold dress debate that popped up a couple of years ago.
Geaux check out the tweet that kicked the whole thing off:
I probably just used geaux wrong up there, but I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules to that unique Louisianan word. It pretty much just replaces the word go in ANY AND ALL CASES EVER, which was probably really clever the first 10 or 20 thousand times people did it, but now it’s just kind of annoying.
But I’m getting off topic. Let’s get back to y’all, y’all.
The word is a contraction for you and all, and is therefore always, Always, ALWAYS plural. You never use it as a singular pronoun. One person is a you. Or maybe a them. But they’re never, ever a y’all.
People not from the South tend to get it wrong all the time, and just replace the singular you with the plural y’all any time they’d normally say you. And it kills me.
I do get the confusion, though. Sometimes, we do say y’all to a single person, but we never mean it to be singular.
For example, if you’re over at, say, your favorite bar, and want to know if they serve a certain kind of beer, you might ask your waitress, “Do y’all have Pretentious Small Batch Microbrewery Pale Wicked Whatever Ale here?”
Yes, you’re talking to one person, but you’re referring to the entire establishment. So it’s still plural. Also, I don't know anything about beer.
Another source of confusion, which was pointed out endlessly this weekend during The Great Y’all Debate Of Our Time by everyone from dudes with no followers to people with millions of followers, is the nuanced use of the phrase “all y’all” or “all y’alls'’”. So let me clear that up for you, just so the next time you get dragged into a grammatical street fight, you’ll be FULLY ARMED WITH KNOWLEDGE.
“All y’all” is really just an extra plural version of the word, used for emphasis. You see, y’all can be pretty casual, and is usually used in a general sort of context meaning most everyone. Like, when you walk into a party and say, “How y’all doin’?”
In this case, you’re just saying hello. That's it. You don’t actually care how every single person in the room is doing, and it’d make things really awkward if people started coming to you with their personal problems over the spinach dip, so nobody takes it all that seriously.
However, when you throw the word “all” into the mix, things get real serious, real fast. Imagine a classroom full of kids acting up and being loud, and generally stomping on their teacher’s last nerve. When she’s finally had enough, she’ll probably clinch her teeth, count to ten so she doesn't murder anyone, then shout something like, “If y’all don’t cut it out right now, I’m fixin’ to call all y’alls’ moms!”
It basically means every last one of you, and is not to be used lightly.
To sum up, y’all is never singular, and always refers to two or more people. All y’all is just a more serious version of y’all, usually with a threat added on for good measure.
So y’all start using it right, or I’m gonna open up a forty gallon drum of whoop-grammar on all y’alls’ butts.
And don’t even get me started on all that Who Dat? business that goes on around here...