What's The Difference Between Y'all And Ya'll?

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

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," to name a few. But the best-known word in the Southern vernacular is probably our most-loved pronoun: y'all. A contraction of "you" and "all" is what forms "y'all" when addressing or referencing two or more people. Here's everything you need to know about this Southern phrase.

Southern Living Y'all or Ya'll
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How To Spell Y'all

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes this phrase as a variant of "you all" and the origin as chiefly Southern U.S. It also states there is a correct—and incorrect—way to spell this fond colloquialism. This familiar pronoun is even included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which is a trusted, go-to source for Southern Living copy editors. The only proper way to spell the contraction of "you" and "all" is "y'all."

Put together "you all," and you get "y'all," just as "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.

"Ya'll" is incorrect and a misspelling of the word, so don't use it. When you think about it, "y'all" makes the most sense as the spelling when using it similarly to basic contractions.

How Y'all Is Growing Beyond the South

According to language learning software Babbel, the use of "y'all" beyond a geographically-specific dialect is increasing in popular culture because it solves an English language problem. Unlike French, German, and Spanish languages, the English language does not have a designed second-person plural pronoun.

Using "y'all" also adds a gender-neutral variation to the familiar phrase "you guys." The phrase "you guys" often refers to a group of two or more people, regardless of gender, and is commonly used throughout the U.S.

Variations of Y'all

Though "y'all" is inherently plural, in addressing a larger group of people, "all y'all" is an occasionally used casual phrase. Like all soda is called Coke, and all tea is sweet unless otherwise noted, "y'all" is a crucial piece of Southern verbiage deeply engrained in our culture.

As in the South, different parts of the U.S. and worldwide have their own versions of "y'all," according to Babbel. Some of these include "yinz" in the Ozarks, Appalachians, and western Pennsylvania and "you lot" in the United Kingdom and Australia.

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

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  1. Babbel. The Rise of Y'all And The Quest For A Second-Person Plural Pronoun.

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