From Y'all To Youse, 8 English Ways to Make "You" Plural

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Lots of languages have distinct plural forms for "you." When talking to more than one person, the French use vous; the Italians, voi; the Spanish, ustedes; and the Germans, ihr. Wouldn't it be useful if English had one too?

In fact, English speakers have come up with a bunch of words for plural "you." Snooty grammar teachers might not like them, but they get the job done.

1. Y'all

Used primarily in the Southern US, this is a shortening of the phrase "you all," which is also used in its full form as a plural address. It may have been introduced to America by Ulster Scots immigrants who used the phrase "ye aw." Y'all also has a possessive form, as in, "How was y'all's day?"

2. Yinz

This one is a hallmark of the dialect known as "Pittsburghese." People who speak this dialect are referred to as "yinzers."

3. You-uns

Yinz originates from this form, also used in the Ohio River Valley around Pittsburgh. It's a shortening of "you ones," a usage that goes as far back as Chaucer.

4. You Guys

In the parts of the U.S. where they don't use "y'all," they use "you guys" instead, as shown on the map above.

5. You Lot

The "you guys" of Britain.

6. Yous/Youse

This one is found all over the English-speaking world, from Ireland to South Africa, to New Zealand, to New Jersey. It makes a lot of sense. How do you make something plural? Add an 's'!

7. Ye

When English had a plural form back in the Renaissance, this was it. It is still used in Ireland.

8. Super Plurals

Sometimes a plural is simply not plural enough. That's when it's time to pull out "yees," "all y'all," and "youse guys."

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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August 19, 2014 - 12:00am
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