you guys

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Thu Apr 17 16:34:07 UTC 2003

Vocative "guys" alone has been around a long time, I suspect; I hear it all
the time addressed to either men alone, women alone, or a mixed group.  But
third person "guys" referring to women alone may be more recent and would
presumably require clarification: "All the guys said they'd
come."  Similarly, "we guys" (or "us guys") would be clear or unclear
depending on the sex of the speaker.

At 08:11 AM 4/17/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>Not particularly interesting up here in the frozen North (East
>Lansing); such usage is common. More recently, even "guys" without
>"you" has moved into this territory. I heard a young woman yell to
>friends of hers just the other day "Hey Guys! Wait up! Even this may
>have been around here longer than I think (since my principal
>channels of communication are with aged graduate students and
>To clarift my first message, "I'm glad I'm not a woman--you guys have too
>many issues to deal with!" seemed particularly interesting because "you
>guys" is used to address all women, and only women.
>Dennis R. Preston
>Professor of Linguistics
>Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
>      Asian & African Languages
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
>e-mail: preston at
>phone: (517) 353-9290

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