Y'all Vs. Ya'll



It is short for “you all” – get it right if you are going to use it. This is such a simple use of the language. It isn’t that hard to remember the basics of contractions from those early school years… Is it?

I had to correct someone on a Web development list today who proudly proclaimed he was a Texan (as well he should) and thus had the right to use the term. Then he spelled it wrong multiple times!



    • alison says

      Then “all y’all” in Nashville have it wrong!! Drives me crazy when I see ya’ll. A true Southerner know the difference!!

      • Kat says

        LOL! I was born and raised in Tennessee, but live in Oregon now! I spell it Y’all, but a lot of my Southern Friends spell it Ya’ll! It drives me totally meshuge, when I see it spelled Ya’ll, especially by a Southern!

        Y’all is short for You All…So, I’m guessing that Ya’ll must be short for Ya all? I think that’s more the way a Northerner would spell it! :o/

  1. Angela says

    Considering it’s the junction of “You and All” Y’all would be grammatically correct. Yall isn’t even a word and Ya’ll (Ya + ?) is incorrect.

    • John says

      The original spelling is ya’ll because the “ya” was originally the more common spoken (slang) form of “you.” Eventually “you” overtook “ya” in spoken English in the south causing dispute on the spelling of “ya’ll” and “y’all.” When the term was added to dictionaries (and eventually electronic spell-checkers), the assumed spelling was “y’all” because “you+all” was the interpretation of people outside of the south, where dictionaries are published.

      • Wizdom says

        Awesome explanation. I HATE it when one person thinks he or she is right about something arbitrary as a contracted word of words.

  2. Jen says

    I can’t express how disturbed I was when my iPhone tried to auto-correct my “ya’ll” to “y’all.” It just looks and feels completely wrong!! I grew up in Texas and I’ve always seen it spelled ya’ll. Anyway, I agree with Mark and Sarah….it’s not a conventional contraction and it shouldn’t be treated like one! And if you MUST force it…it’s YA ALL so ya’ll is perfectly fine. :)

    • Selp From Georgia says

      jen, it is a conventional contraction. There is absolutely nothing unconventional about it. You + All = y’all!

      It’s actually more traditional than “you guys”. Romance languages use “you all”. “You guys” makes no freaking sense.

      ya’ll might be perfectly fine for you, but it is not grammatically correct. have pride in your southern roots, but don’t help perpetuate the idea that southerners are stupid.

      It’s y’all. It’s not debatable. You might as well argue that “do’nt is the same thing as “don’t.”

      • Austin says

        “It’s y’all. It’s not debatable. You might as well argue that “do’nt is the same thing as “don’t.””

        To reply to your above argument y’all is more like d’not than do’nt.

        Outside of won’t (which contracts both will and not) I can’t think of one contraction that contracts the first word.

        Let us = Let’s
        Is + not = Isn’t
        Should + have = Should’ve
        Would + not = Wouldn’t
        Where + did = Where’d
        They + have = They’ve
        I + am = I’m
        I + had/would = I’d
        You + are = You’re
        Could + not = Couldn’t
        We + are = We’re
        Do + not = Don’t
        I + will = I’ll
        You + will = You’ll
        What + is = What’s

        Notice how it’s always the second word that gets contracted? It is in this vein of reasoning I contend that: Ya + all = Ya’ll. This contraction of Ya’ll is accomplished without resorting to odd one-off contraction situations like won’t, ain’t, ’twas, and o’clock.

        The 2nd best reason of why it’s Ya’ll instead of Y’all is BECAUSE the dictionary spells it Y’all. You can’t let a bunch of Yankees in NYC dictate how to spell it. It is because dictionary does not recognize Ya as a word that the dictionary has no choice but to spell it as you + all = y’all. If the dictionary recognized ya as a word then I am sure the the dictionary would spell it ya + all = ya’ll.

    • Educator says

      You is a word, Ya’ is not a word, therefore y’all is the only correct spelling, whether you live north or south or can’t speak correctly at all.

  3. says

    My wife, a born and bred Texan, absolutely refuses to accept the proper grammatical rule for this familiar contraction. She says, “I don’t care if it ain’t right. My daddy spelled it ya’ll, so that’s the way it’s done. Period, dot.” Sigh….

    • 2ndGen says

      Haha.. that’s great! Love the way she said it “Period, dot.” That’s great =D

      And I think this word depends on where you learned it. Ya’ll, y’all doesn’t matter as it is a non-word and can go both ways… similar to ain’t, aint. At least my english teacher mother is of that opinion and as my Dad is Tennessee born and writes “y’all” that’s the way i’ll spell it. Period dot. (I really do like that phrase =D

      • Patricia says

        …Or, as they say in the UK, full stop! Love that too!

        I’ve been perusing this site because I noticed the difference in how you all is contracted. I’ve always written it as ya’ll, but recently I’ve seen it written as y’all. Interesting read and I appreciate all the opinions. I will continue to spell it ya’ll.

  4. Michelle says

    Being southern myself, and since it anyone who is correcting folks on the spelling of the word in the first place probably is not southern would not dare use such a word, i reserve the right to say it is NOT a contraction for the words “you all” but for “ya all,” because I don’t here many folks around here actually pronouncing the complete word YOU anyway, whereas the missing letter would only be the “a” in “all” making the contraction ya’ll. :)

  5. Michelle says

    It’s me again. Reading back on some of the posts, it seems there are a few southern folks who agree with “y’all” rather than “ya’ll.” In the interest of not perpetuating the idea that southerners are stupid, I have a solution! I live in Georgia. Most of the people I know spell it ya’ll. This particular contraction in either spelling didn’t even show up in a dictionary when I was in school, and, yes, my teachers as well always said it is was not a word but a part of southern slang and dialect. It may be a word now, but that’s only because we made it famous! Lots of folks use it now, save a few yankees that don’t like us down here! ;) Anyway, southerners use slang, as do lots of other areas of this country, just different words (although we do seem to catch most of the jabbing for it). For example, I knew a person from Philadelphia who used to say “Jeat?” and informed me that was yankee for “Did you eat?” I propose “Y’all” is no longer considered to be an improper word because there is nothing improper about “you all.” If contractions are acceptable, there is no reason “y’all” should not be accepted as one of them. For those of us who are a little more relaxed with our pronunciation of words and like to say “ya” instead of “you” (we are not stupid and do know “ya” is not a word but that is a part of southern slang), we will spell it “ya’ll.” That way people will know we are relaxed and easy going folks and not proper when we don’t have to be. Long story short… Webster can say “y’all” is a contraction between the two words “you” and “all” and Webster can say “ya’ll” is a slang contraction for the two words for “ya” and “all.” Problem solved.

  6. Danny says

    In the south it’s Ya’ll. We spawned the damn word and will spell it how we please…’yous guys’ up north don’t use the word so don’t worry about it.

  7. margaret says

    Well, here’s the deal: if southern writers including Faulkner can write ya’ll, and I grew up in Texas using ya’ll, I think I’ll just go on with that, even though I agree that y’all would be the technically correct contraction. Now that we’ve gone this far, maybe we can also agree that since ya’ll/ya’ll/yawl ain’t even atchelly a word…we can spell it however we want. That’s the beauty of the culture.

  8. Jeff says

    Ya, does not mean you. Therefore the idea that ya’ll is a contraction does not make any sense. If we are going to spell the southern expression for more than one (you all) then ya’ll makes more sense then y’all. We don’t write y’will (or yo’ll) for you’ll or c’not for can’t. The point here is that we are in essence creating a new word which happens quite frequently. New words are added to dictionaries every year. Thus, let’s create the spelling for the new word that would make the most sense. Which in this case, in my humble opinion, would be ya’ll.

    • Circe says

      Ya absolutely does mean you. “Where ya going?” No, it’s not the Queen’s English, but the revolution has since passed. The “be” verb is implied and ya = you. American English is a melting pot of dialects. Ya’ll need to get over it.

  9. Michaela Whitney says

    I’m from Texas and “y’all” is the most common used word that comes out of my mouth. Honestly to me, yall is its own word, so I don’t think it should have an apostrophie at all. It has evolved from the combination of two words to becoming one word.

  10. Robin says

    Okay, but think of this. Couldn’t = could not, yet the “n” is on the other side of the apostrophe. Same goes for wouldn’t, won’t, shouldn’t, can’t and so on. It can be spelled either way. Personally, I spell it like “ya’ll”, but to each his own.

    • Rilian says

      The apostrophe in couldn’t goes between the n and the t because apostrophes stand in for missing letters. The apostrophes in all those negative words are standing in for the o that would be in the word not. In the word y’all, the apostrophe stands in for the missing letters o and u. If you want to spell it ya’ll, then it would be that ya means you, and the apostrophe would be standing in for the missing a in the word all.

  11. James Doolittle says

    Alex, You are incorrect sir. A little history, I’m a fifth generation East Texan. On second thought: on my Mom’s side there was a little foray into Western Louisiana, but we forgave them a long time ago. Sorry I digress. I am sixty years old and my “still kicking” Mom is ninety. We just discussed this spelling conundrum. She is a voracious reader. I agree to disagree however ya’ll is correct for the two of us. It’s partly the way the East Texas twang/drawl slowly sounds it out Yaaaa (high nasal resonance followed by a little break and then the dramatic kind of clipped downward inflection) ..’ll. Anyhow, ya’ll can pry my cold, dead fingers off the keyboard and then spell it any dang way you want!

  12. Ken Schauer says

    I am from Texas. Went to school in Dallas & I have always spelled it Y’all. Even when I used it on english class the teachers never said a Damn thing about it being ya’ll. So I must agree to disagree with anyone who puts the contraction after the a. But really why all the arguing over a simple contraction?

  13. Michael says

    I was born and raised in the south, the real south…..South Carolina. The proper spelling is Ya’ll……those from Texas like to change things up and claim that’s how they do it in the south….but remember….Texas was NEVER on of the ORIGINAL Colonies…… :-)

  14. Scottysmalls says

    everyone is used to spelling the word as is: ya’ll. even thought that wouldn’t be the gramatically correct way of spelling the word, hear me out here. when was the last time the english language was correct at all. i mean, look at how we even spell names anymore. its to the point of where Ashley is even spelled Ashlea and Ashli. Hooked on phonics just isn’t worth the time anymore.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0toGDEKmPA <—watch this!!!

  15. says

    It’s commonly accented (“ya” for “you” – to those who use the slang contraction) and usually spelled “ya’ll” which means “you all,” but it’s technically y’all (the plural form of “you”). “Y’all” is non-standard English, but it is not grammatically or otherwise incorrect. However, we don’t use “y’all” in formal writing, but it’s quite acceptable in everyday conversation, even among educated speakers.

    In a contraction, the apostrophe goes where letters have been omitted. Since the “ou” of “you” is the part that is left out, the apostrophe is between the “y” and the word “all” Therefore, “y’all” is correct, and “ya’ll” is incorrect.

  16. J McArthur says

    I have spelled it ya’ll most my life, but recently decided it should be y’all.Don’t know if it even matters. I have lived in Alabama all but 4 of my 53 years and those were spent in TN.
    I never really thought of Texas as being southern. More western or Tex/Mex or something.

  17. Educated from TX says

    Unlike anyone else on here, I actually got in touch with Webster’s dictionary to ask them about ya’ll vs y’all. They agree that it is y’all. I do not agree.

    I see snobby East Coaster saying, “it’s the conjunction of you and all; don’t you remember grammar school contractions!?!”

    Well, except that’s not correct. Ya’ll is a slang term originating from the old west. I guarantee you they weren’t thinking about conjunctions. In the modern day, it should be the combination of archaic spelling (think everything has to be some root of modern wordsmithing?) and the REAL conjunction between ‘ya’ and ‘all’.

    Ten years ago, this “conjunction” wasn’t even a real word. Now it’s proper spelling and southerners proper claim to the word is being bastardized by those who hold editorial power in the north east.

    Shame on all of you.

  18. John from TX says

    This native Texan has always seen the word spelled “y’all” in printed material, but in handwritten material I’ve seen it several ways. I tend to cringe a bit at “ya’ll” simply because no one in my entire life has ever said “ya all” anywhere I could hear it, while I have heard “you all”.

    The beauty of using “y’all” is that it is a perfectly good standard contraction for either “you all” or “ya all”. That said, those who favor “ya’ll” aren’t likely to be persuaded.

  19. Michelle says

    As a native Texan I have to say that I’ve never heard anyone (in my neck of the woods) say “ya all” or pronounce the word y’all broken into two syllables to make it sound like “ya all” except for non-southerners who find out that I’m from Texas and feel that they HAVE to say it because that’s the main word that everyone knows in the “Southern American” language. It is a contraction of you and all and it sounds like yawl. Seeing it spelled ya’ll chaps my hide. That is my two cents.

  20. Chet says

    In formal English it may be a contraction of “You and All” so y’all would seem to be correct. However in the Souther US “ya = you” and is very prominant in common speak even among the highly educated.
    Examples:Have you eaten yet? Would ya like some tea? Are ya nuts?

    By english standards the second word is contracted, not the first. Examples: I’ll, he’ll, she’ll, they’ll. There for the first word is “ya” and the second word, “all” is the one that is contracted. Simple and by the books: “Ya’ll” is correct though I will admit that “y’all” looks better in print.

    • Deedjae says

      In all of your examples ‘ll is a contraction meaning will. so ya’ll means : ”you will” not ”you all”.

      • Kat says

        Hahahahaha! You have a very good point there! So, “Y’all would mean You All”, but “Ya’ll would actually mean Ya will”! Makes perfect sense, to me! LOL! :o}

  21. Bluegrassgypsy says

    If P then Q. Yes?

    If I’ll = I will, and he’ll = he will, and she’ll = she will, and they’ll = they will, then ya’ll = ya will and does not = ya all.

    Y’all = you all. Period. Dot.

    • Sarah Hobock says

      You Northerner’s leave our YA”LL alone. We are southerner’s alone and let us say it and spell it the way we want to, you shouldn’t even be talking about us! We say it we hear it and know what it means. We don’t care if it’s grammatically correct or not! I was born in Shreveport, La, lived in Longview Tx., and am a real Southerner! You know we have New Orleans and the Alamo down her, can’t get much more south than that!

  22. DMBZ says

    After researching and pondering, the answer is ya’ll, for the following reasons:

    1. I was born, bred, and raised in the Great State of Texas, therefore I am a Texan. Period. No doubt about it.

    2. I have lived all around the US and heard many variations of the US English language – everybodys got something (and yes, that’s how you say it) unique to their area – be it a phrase, word, spelling, group culture thought, etc. Most of these things don’t have anything to do with a dictionary or proper grammar and yet nobody picks on them.

    3. If a dictionary or grammar rules had to be involved, it would probably be y’all as in “you all.” However, that would mean, in addition to using the singular meaning of “you”, a person uses the word “you” as plural. Honestly that’s just plain rude; that may be proper grammatically, but rude. When you say “you” to a group of people, you’re leaving out everyone you don’t have eye contact with. Not cool.

    4. Around Dallas, it’s ya’ll. It’s inclusive. It means everyone. It’s polite.

  23. Mike T. says

    I was raised in Texas for 17 years, lived in Florida another 4, and I’ve seen both y’all and ya’ll used. It’s a matter of preference to the speaker/writer as far as I’m concerned. For all of the grammarians out there, the normal rules of contractions and the myriad examples given are a non sequitur because you rarely contract *without* a verb. Possibly never…I just can’t think of a situation other than y’all/ya’ll. (Maybe shortening them to ’em, but it’s only one word.) It’s not the same logic. At the end of the day, it’s a word that is specific to Southern dialect – like ‘yinz’ in Pittsburgh or ‘yous/youse’ in the Northeast. It seems a little silly to come in after the fact, armed with the rules of grammar, to “fix” how it’s used.

  24. Robert S. says

    Interesting reading and I had no idea there was such a debate. Frankly I find it very ‘unTexan” to refer to printed material from ‘up north’ to justify something a Texan believes. I was born and raised here, gone only the time I spent deploy across the big pond while I was in the Army. I’ve always written it ya’ll, and frankly ya’ll who disagree can kiss my grits. I don’t care what a dictionary says, and if you start trying to bring up something you learned in school in an English class where they told you “ain’t” ain’t a word, and “fixin” isn’t grammatically correct either, then shame on you. It don’t even sound Texanish to say, well according to the laws of probability and hitherto, therefore, blah blah blah blah. I question your genes. Frankly I could care less about all your facts – it’s just a word. We Texans pride ourselves on making our own way. We pride ourselves on being from a Republic and not just some state and we don’t care if you were part of the original 13, we are TEXAS. You and your other 12 are more like counties than real states so you don’t really count anyhow. So all in all, I reckon I will continue to spell it ya’ll, but if I decide to spell it y’all, I can do that too and not really give a jackrabbits ass what you think about it. Because I am Texan.

  25. Hayseed says

    I can think of only one word where the apostrophe replaced letters from the first word. It nearly always abbreviates the second word.

    “Ya” is the slang for “you.” And “all” is abbreviated by the apostrophe.

    “Ya’ll” is the word that follows logic and the rules of grammar.


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