Grammar Ya’ll vs. Y’all: Is Either Expression Grammatically Correct? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Ya’ll vs. Y’all: Is Either Expression Grammatically Correct?

As we’re wont to note on our website, the English language—and American English in particular—is a living, breathing entity. It changes and grows with the times and occasionally across regions as well.

It’s no surprise, then, that we sometimes get questions about newer words and regional spellings. Today we’ll discuss whether the dialectical ya’ll or y’all is grammatically correct.

The Meaning of Y’all

For those who might not be familiar with the expression, y’all is a contraction typically used in the American South. It is a quicker way of saying “you all,” which is shorthand for “everybody.”

There are two things that make this particular contraction interesting. The first is that it is spoken far more frequently than it is written. While you will find spelled-out instances of y’all—as in this article—you are much more likely to hear it in speech.

The second thing about y’all is that it used to be considered grammatically incorrect. Within certain academic and professional circles, it still is. With that being said, you should be careful about using y’all within formal contexts unless you know it won’t be perceived as a typo or a solecism.

Which Should You Use: Ya’ll or Y’all?

If you are in a position where including the phrase will be received in an acceptable context, use y’all.

While the two versions may seem interchangeable or otherwise similar, there is a reason that one is better than the other. Specifically, contractions use an apostrophe where words are divided. Since y’all is a shortening of “you all,” the apostrophe is inserted at the words’ point of division between y and all.

As further reinforcement, consider that:

1) y’all equates to you all, or y(ou) all.

2) ya’ll would translate into an expression similar to yeah you all.

Making Sense of Other Contractions

Recognizing why y’all is punctuated and spelled as it is can be helpful in interpreting similar treatments of words.


you’re = you are

they’re = they are

I’ll = I will

it’ll = it will

they’ll = they will

As with y’all, each contraction includes an apostrophe at the point of division between words. Now that you have this principle in your grammar toolbox, you’ll be able to both write and correct such expressions with ease.

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