Possessive form of Y'ALL

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri May 25 11:51:53 UTC 2001

This is a case of "you all" not being "you all" at all (just like
every "white FISH" is not a "WHITE fish"). If you scan the verse, you
will see that stresses are assigned as follows (to the line is

SO, good NIGHT unTO you ALL.

People who don't even know what what grits are can say "you ALL"; the
bisyllabic southern expression is "YOU all." "you ALL" is not under
discussion here.

(Of course, the "true" southerners who give us monosyllabic 'y'all'
avoid this confusion.)


>The OED2 says the "you-all", also spelled "you all", is "U. S. dial" and the
>first citation is from 1824.
>However, if you check Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Puck's
>speech which ends the play, you will find the last six lines are (my
>"Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
>We will make amends ere long;
>Else the Puck a liar call.
>So, good night unto YOU ALL.
>Give me your hands, if we be friends,
>And Robin shall restore amends."
>      - Jim Landau
>        Systems Engineer
>        FAA Technical Center (ACT-350/BCI)
>        Atlantic City Airport NJ 08405 USA
>P.S. For what's it's worth, I habitually say "your-all's" as the genitive

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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