There’s only one correct way to spell it, y’all

Grace Haynes

The South is known for its laundry list of unique, quirky, cultural sayings—like “Bless your heart,” “Too big for his britches,” and “Well, I s’wanee,” just to name a few of our favorites. But the best-known word in the Southern vernacular is probably our most-loved pronoun: y’all. A contraction of “you” and “all,” as defined by our Mason Dixonary, “y’all” is used when addressing or referencing two or more people. Though “y’all” is inherently plural, in the instance of addressing a larger group of people, “all y’all” is more of a casual, slang phrase that’s sometimes used. Like how all soda is called Coke and all tea is sweet unless otherwise noted, “y’all” is a key piece of Southern verbiage that’s deeply engrained in our culture. Even Siri understands what means it now.

There is a correct—and incorrect—way to spell this fond colloquialism, however. This familiar pronoun is included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a trusted, go-to source for Southern Living copy editors. The only right way to spell the contraction of “you” and “all” is “y’all.” “Ya’ll” is incorrect and a misspelling of the word, so don’t use it. When you think about it, though, “y’all” makes the most sense for how this contraction should be correctly spelled. Put together you-all, and you get “y’all.” Just like “cannot” becomes “can’t” and “do not” becomes “don’t.” Think about the term in this sense, and you’ll be less likely to misspell it.

So there you have it, y’all. Think you’re a pro at Southern sayings? Test your knowledge with "Do You Speak Southern Mama?" and our list of lesser-known Southern sayings. Check out more familiar Southern slang terms to see which ones you use most in everyday conversation.  

What's your favorite saying that you can never seem to spell correctly?