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what word do you use for "you plural"?

Jeanne Boyarsky
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I imagine some languages have separate words for "you" depending on whether it is singular or plural. English is not of them.

Two questions:
1) Do you speak a language where "you" has different words when speaking to one person vs a bunch? Which language?
2) What English word do you use when speaking to a mixed gender group of people and need to use the word "you" and need to clearly communicate you are using the plural form of the term.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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My answer:
1) No
2) I usually use "you guys" when speaking to people from the Northeast US. It doesn't seem to have the gender implications that other terms do. If I am talking to people from a place where "y'all" is common I use "y'all".

Other terms I don't use but have heard at least once:
  • you all - this one is clever. I heard in Texas where y'all is used. It is like a more formal approach to y'all. Shows plurality and remains gender neutral
  • gentlemen - awkward and came up because it was used in a context of all guys in the past
  • fellas - also awkward


  • The funny thing is why it is awkward. I know when hearing these that I'm not being deliberately excluded. At the same time, it feels like when people call me "sir"; that they just don't know I'm female or assuming all techies are male or something like that.

    There are two things I correct every time I notice them. One is when people assume I am male. The other is when people misspell my name (and it's not a typo.) My name is not "Jean" and I expect people who know me to be able to type my name properly. Or at least copy/paste it.
    Ernest Friedman-Hill
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      34

    Something about "you guys" doesn't work for me, even in an informal setting. I will generally say "you all" or "Folks, ..."


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    Tom Reilly
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    you all - this one is clever. I heard in Texas where y'all is used. It is like a more formal approach to y'all. Shows plurality and remains gender neutral
    I am a yank' that has spent some time in the south (and Texas is not in the South). It is my understanding that "y'all" is singular. The plural of "y'all" is "all y'all".
    Henry Wong
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      40


    In Brooklyn, where I grew up, the plural of "you" is "yous"...

    Henry


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    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Ernest: I do use y'all when communicating with people in your area. It's not the South, but a lot of people we speak to use y'all. I assumed it was because they were from the South originally and it spread.

    Folks is an interesting one. Especially since I used it without realizing it less than an hour ago. It doesn't give away much to say I posted "If folks could..." in the secret moderators forum. The problem with folks is that I can't figure out how to make it direct. Which I need to do in a work setting. "One of you will update the document" or "Everyone* check this setting" work. Of course those aren't ambiguous with respect to which of "you" I'm talking about. It's more awkward when I have "you'll take care of that" (when you refers to two people). Or something like that.

    Tom: I never heard that. So I went on wikipedia. It explains that "all y'all" is more specific. They also use the word subset which is nice to see in an article. Wikipedia first says y'all refers to multiple people. It then says "all y'all" clarifies how much of y'all is being inquired about. I may not have used the word plural correctly in my original post. I meant it as "are y'all going to reply" rather than "are you, Tom, personally going to reply.".

    * I found another word I use - everyone
    Christophe Verré
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      16

    1. Yes, French. We use 'tu' for singular, and ' vous' for plural. The confusing part is that we also use 'vous' for singular in its polite form.


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    Christophe Verré
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      16

    2. I don't remember talking to a group of English speaking people I think I'd use ' you all'
    Bear Bibeault
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      67

    I'm in Texas, so:

    y'all

    one syllable.


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    Bert Bates
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    hey!


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    Ulf Dittmer
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      64
    #1) Yes, German - which is further complicated by there being two forms of the singular, depending on whether you are on a first-name basis with the person.

    #2) "You all". Sometimes "you guys" but only for small groups that know each other well; not in a general business setting. (Also beware of non-native speakers who may not know the phrase: one day there was French woman around who promptly objected that she wasn't a guy...)


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    Maneesh Godbole
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    My mother tongue is Marathi. The national language of India is Hindi. In both these languages,
    1) Yes. Also, there are different forms of addressing you, an individual, to denote respect. e.g. The way I would address my father "you" is different than I would address a friend. This is kind of similar to the german Ihr.
    2)
    a. Ladies and Gentlemen (blame the Brits for this)
    b. Dudes & Dudettes
    c. Guys
    d. Gang
    The choice is mainly defined by the kind of occasion. Formal, informal, friends, acquaintances.
    In a friend circle, it runs more on the abusive lines, like "Ok now, listen to me you pricks". Anything else and I would stand a good chance of being ostracised


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    Ankit Garg
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      17

    Maneesh Godbole wrote:The way I would address my father "you" is different than I would address a friend.

    In Hindi the two different words for "you" are tum (तुम) and aap (आप) the 2nd one being used in more respected sense (like to elders)...


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    Devaka Cooray
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      47

    1. Yes. There is a number of 'you' terms in Sinhala. Basically oyaa(ඔයා) and oyaalaa(ඔයාලා) are used as singular and plural words in informal speaking. In formal writing, the singular term is oba(ඔබ) and the plural term is oba siyallan(ඔබ සියල්ලන්) , which is similar to "you all". Though there are some other 'you' terms, most of them are rarely used in these days.

    2. I always use "you all", but I heard some other terms like "you people", and sometimes "you everyone"


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    Tom Reilly
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    I always use "you all", but I heard some other terms like "you people", and sometimes "you everyone"
    In the United States, I would caution <you|yous|y'all|vous> from using the term "you people". Years ago, a presidential candidate got into political trouble after using the term when addressing a group of African Americans. It has now come to mean people of a particular race.
    Campbell Ritchie
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      28
    Except in parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands, British English has gone the other way from most other languages. We haven't ditched the plural of "you", but have ditched its singular, thou. Thou (as the Latin tu, unlike the French tu and German Du) is simply the singular pronoun for the person addressed, and does not imply informality, familiarity or friendship. Similarly using you does not suggest respect, politeness or formality. In complete English grammar, "you" is the plural of "thou".
    In places (eg Liverpool, Glasgow) where people use a plural and don't use thou, the plural of the plural form "you" is "youse". It is pronounced like yous above.
    Jesper de Jong
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      21

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:1) Do you speak a language where "you" has different words when speaking to one person vs a bunch? Which language?

    Yes, Dutch. You singular = jij (sounds a little bit like "yay" in English); you plural = jullie.

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:2) What English word do you use when speaking to a mixed gender group of people and need to use the word "you" and need to clearly communicate you are using the plural form of the term.

    I think I'd just say "you". Officially that's also plural, isn't it?

    Ulf Dittmer wrote:#1) Yes, German - which is further complicated by there being two forms of the singular, depending on whether you are on a first-name basis with the person.

    We have that too in Dutch, the polite form is U, the casual form is jij. The polite form in plural is still U!

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    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Christophe: I had originally written French as an example in my initial post. (tu vs vous). But then I remembered vous is more polite and figured it couldn't possibly be both. Clearly I was remembering wrong.

    Maneesh: "Ladies and Gentleman" is certainly more formal than "you guys" !

    Jesper: Of course "you" is plural too. The problem is it is ambigious. We're missing a word.

    I think it is interesting my browser has the right characters to display Ankit's example and not Devaka's. I understand Hindi is more common. I'm just surprised that renders.
    Campbell Ritchie
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      28
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:. . . We're missing a word. . . .
    As I said, it's "thou" (thou, thee, thy, thine etc) which is missing.
    fred rosenberger
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      16

    interesting topic. I sometimes use "People", as in "Hey, people...listen up!!!". "Folks" has also been used, although I think usually when referring to a third-party group - "I told you about those folks".


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    Campbell Ritchie
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      28
    Of course, "folks" is grammatically akin to "youse" or "sheeps".
    fred rosenberger
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      16

    is there something wrong with "youse" or "sheeps"? Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that "mooses" is wrong, too.
    Jan Cumps
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        8

    Jesper de Jong wrote:
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:1) Do you speak a language where "you" has different words when speaking to one person vs a bunch? Which language?

    Yes, Dutch. You singular = jij (sounds a little bit like "yay" in English); you plural = jullie.

    ...


    ... and there is the Flemish "spoken language only" form: gij, which we consider to be proper Dutch. The plural gijle however is considered to be dialect.
    It is a remnant from old Dutch still widely used in Belgium, but not in Holland.


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    Pat Farrell
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        5

    fred rosenberger wrote:Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that "mooses" is wrong, too.

    I thought plural of moose was meese.
    Greg Charles
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:We haven't ditched the plural of "you", but have ditched its singular, thou. Thou (as the Latin tu, unlike the French tu and German Du) is simply the singular pronoun for the person addressed, and does not imply informality, familiarity or friendship.


    You've aligned yourself against Shakespeare here, who only used "thou" as a familiar form between close acquaintances or from a noble to a commoner. He used "you" for plurals, but also in the singular for more formal usages, such as between strangers, or from a lower social status to higher. That is, "thou" and "you" were pretty much like "tu" and "vous" are in French now.

    Speaking of missing words in English, we don't have a contraction for "am not" now that "ain't" is taboo. We mostly feel the loss when we're ending a sentence with "am I not?". I've heard some regions will actually say "amn't I?", which sounds cool to me. British English seems to accept the totally ungrammatical "aren't I?", while American English allows it in informal spoken situations, but frowns on it otherwise.
    Campbell Ritchie
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      28
    The same time Shakespeare was writing, the Authorised Version used "thou" to people of all statuses including commoners to kings.
    What's taboo about "ain't"? Apart from the fact that it actually means "hasn't"? Most people in Britain use aren't I as the pronunciation of amn't I, though amn't I is (I believe) still in use in Ireland.

    There are several other words we miss in English; German has the verbs gönnen whose nearest English equivalents are "permit" or "grant" but is better translated by its opposite, which is "begrudge", and schonen which means "preserve by keeping for best", and we lack single words for those.
    One word we really lack is an equivalent of the German wievielter, which is the ordinal of wieviele. The answer to "wieviele" (how many?) might be 3, but the answer to wievielter would then be third. We don't have a simple English word for how-manieth and end up saying "where . . . ?" instead.
    Jesper de Jong
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      21

    Is "howmanieth" not a valid English word?
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Jesper de Jong wrote:Is "howmanieth" not a valid English word?
    Afraid not. It would be very nice if it were a real word, however.
    fred rosenberger
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    I was watching "The Next Great Baker", which features Buddy Velastro. If this weren't a 'reality' type show, I would swear he was an actor playing a stereotype. However, he is indeed a real person.

    He quite often on the show uses the term "yous" when addressing the group of competitors.
    Greg Charles
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:The same time Shakespeare was writing, the Authorised Version used "thou" to people of all statuses including commoners to kings.


    By "Authorised Version", you mean of the Authorized Version of the King James Bible? That's true, but it was imitating even earlier translations of the bible, which in turn were trying to preserve the style of the original Hebrew. Shakespeare and most of his contemporaries used "thou" in the familiar and "you" in the formal. Granted, even Shakespeare wasn't entirely consistent with that usage, but I blame the scribes.

    Campbell Ritchie wrote:What's taboo about "ain't"? Apart from the fact that it actually means "hasn't"? Most people in Britain use aren't I as the pronunciation of amn't I, though amn't I is (I believe) still in use in Ireland.


    Really? You're giving me grief about that? It's been cognito non grata for, pretty much, ever. Your second point is half right. "Hain't" is an obsolete contraction of "has not" or "have not" that was sometimes conflated into "ain't", which came from "amn't" or "an't", contractions of "am not", but sometimes also used for "are not" and "is not". So "ain't" could mean "hasn't", but doesn't always. Finally, most people in Britain use "aren't I" as both the pronunciation and the spelling of "amn't I", so it's probably easier just to say they've substituted the word. So have Americans for that matter, but American grammar mavens poo-poo it, whereas their British counterparts seems to think it's OK. Since what the grammar mavens think is worth approximately nothing, that doesn't make much of a difference.

    I do agree that we're missing that "howmanieth?" word in English. In Viet Nam, it's common to ask what number born child you are in your family. "I'm the fourth," or "I'm the oldest". There's just no smooth way to express that question in English. On the other hand, Vietnamese is missing a word for "how often?", so you're stuck asking "how many times per day/week/month/etc someone does something".
    Stephan van Hulst
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:The same time Shakespeare was writing, the Authorised Version used "thou" to people of all statuses including commoners to kings.
    What's taboo about "ain't"? Apart from the fact that it actually means "hasn't"? Most people in Britain use aren't I as the pronunciation of amn't I, though amn't I is (I believe) still in use in Ireland.

    There are several other words we miss in English; German has the verbs gönnen whose nearest English equivalents are "permit" or "grant" but is better translated by its opposite, which is "begrudge", and schonen which means "preserve by keeping for best", and we lack single words for those.
    One word we really lack is an equivalent of the German wievielter, which is the ordinal of wieviele. The answer to "wieviele" (how many?) might be 3, but the answer to wievielter would then be third. We don't have a simple English word for how-manieth and end up saying "where . . . ?" instead.


    Hehe, I enjoy this discussion.

    I also like to confound some of my English friends with the fact that we have a different word for the objective case of 'you'.

    Ik geef dat aan jou = I give that to you.
    Jij geeft dat aan mij = You give that to me.
    Jullie geven dat aan mij = You give that to me. (plural)

    Then we also have the word 'je', which is pretty much interchangable with 'jij', 'jou' and 'jouw' (the last one is possessive, as in 'your'). It is less formal, but more widely used, as in some cases the proper words can sound forced.

    What I enjoy about Dutch is that we can paste words together to form new ones, as we need. One of my favourite ones is 'voorhoofdsholteontsteking', which means sinusitis. If I were to translate it literally, it would be something like "Forehead cavity inflammation".
    Adolfo Eloy
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    1) Yes, I speak a language that have 2 forms when using "you" as singular or plural. I speak Portuguese and these are the two forms: you (você), yous/ y'all/ all y'all (vocês). It seems like the Brooklin way to use you as plural
    2) Well... I thought I need to use only "you" all the time lol. But, at this topic I could learn more how to use the "you" in plural.


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    Arun Kumarr
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    1. Yes. In fact it has "you" with all these combinations, singular/plural - with respect/without respect
    2. "you people" or just "Team"


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    Alexander McEwan
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    Ok, I was lost for words the other day when I read my youngest daughter's resignation letter (moving on to better grazing).
    Near the end of it she wrote "I would like to thank use all for your guidance and friendship"

    I took her to task (although I already knew what was coming).
    What do you mean by this word use in this sentence.
    Her reply was that this was use as in "more than one of you".
    I pointed out that in the English language we do not have a plural version of the word you. Also, the word use means to make something do something like "I use a knife to cut my food."
    I further explained that the word yous is a slang term and not in the English dictionary - so should not be used in a formal letter (as she did).
    She laughed about it and said that this is how they always spelt the word and that I knew fine what it meant.
    Total confusion all over my face.

    We sat and had a bit of ribaldry concerning the fact that in Aberdeen, having a plural term fo the word you has been going on for some years. I pointed out that it must be in the last ten years because myself and my younger siblings do not use that word.
    Then I pointed out that the spelling would have to be a derivative of the word you so it would most likely be spelt yous

    In my region of Scotland, it could have come about in a round-about way because when I was a nipper in Aberdeen, an adult addressing a group of children was you eens (you ones). Kids hearing this would maybe shorten that down to yous (what I am dealing with here).

    Looking up yous in Google it can be seen that it's use is dotted around the world and it is used in the manner I have explained, but is more than often used as a manner of addressing a group. My daughters also use it when relaying information or commands. It is definately part of every day speech in the younger generation here (as my daughters clearly demonstrated).

    Be aware that we used to have a plural version of the word you in old English (ye), but that was slowly removed over three hundred years ago. The latin based languages (such as Spanish and Italian) have plural terms for you.

    So three hundred years later my daughters have gone full circle. :-)
    and if you saw what they text on their mobiles phones you could easily believe that Ye Olde English has made a comeback.

    Greg Charles
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      11

    Hi Alexander, welcome to Java Ranch!

    That's an interesting first post. You're somewhat pedantic, so I can understand why she would want to resign from being your youngest daughter. However, I'm extremely pedantic, so if I had been you hearing her defense of "use" as the plural of "you", I would have accepted her resignation.
    Kaustubh G Sharma
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    English is funny language


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    Jan de Boer
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        1
    Ah there are more differences, not only single and plurar, also female and male:

    In Spanish you have different forms for 'they', when you are talking about girls or boys. Ellos, ellas.

    English is a very simplified language.
    Only the spelling is totally illogical.
    Matthew Brown
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        8

    Jan de Boer wrote:English is a very simplified language.
    Only the spelling is totally illogical.

    And pronunciation. And if you don't agree with that, think of how you pronounce "through, though, thought, plough, dough, lough, enough".

    Jan de Boer
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        1
    Actually I mean that pronunciation does not follow spelling, and the other way around. Spanish is almost perfect in this. Dutch and German are reasonably understandable. The French are too lazy to pronounce the last few letters in a word, always, which at least is consistent. English, is hopeless.
    Rizvan Asgarov
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    Hi ranchers,
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote: 1) Do you speak a language where "you" has different words when speaking to one person vs a bunch? Which language?

    1. Yes. In Azeri you singular = sen , you plural = siz But you can also use "siz" as a singular where he/she is elder than you or they don't know each other well (as a respect).

    2. You all.


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    subject: what word do you use for "you plural"?