Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

The plural of ‘you’.


It used to be Australians used the term ‘youse’ and some still do. I don’t think I do and it’s generally considered one of those ‘bogan’ words the rest of us avoid. Well-known Texan, Dr Phil, uses y’all, which has a nice ring to it if you have the right accent, but I suspect that’s the American version of youse and is not universally acceptable now in the US if it ever was.

So what is the plural of ‘you’? In the news today our Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has chastised people for using the term ‘guys’ to refer to people of both genders. I must admit I’ve never been offended by this. If you were to call me a guy, as an individual, I might be, but if, for example, I get a text saying “Are you guys home?” it’s clear that refers to both my husband and me. If the text said “Are you home?” then it refers to me only. I’d probably be offended, or puzzled at least, if I got a text saying “Are you men home?” but the term ‘guys’ has somehow become gender neutral, hasn’t it?

I have five adult sons and I tend to still call them ‘the boys’ but since they now all have wives or girlfriends I might use the term ‘guys’ if I’m talking about the guys and the gals together. I’d be interested to see some feedback from our friends in the USA, since we obviously took over ‘guys’ from you. Has the usage changed there? Is it more or less non-gender specific or are we just lazy? Maybe we should speak correctly and say “Are you and your husband at home?” Generally language issues do annoy me but in everyday speech and texts I think we should all just take a chill pill. The language is evolving and BookCoverImageconnectionsit will continue to. She’ll be right mate.

sanctuary cover 2014

‘Sanctuary’, my Sci-fi novel for young adults, is free right now (June 1-5) on Amazon and my collection of short stories, ‘Connections’, will be free from the 3rd to the 7th. For details on all my books please visit my author pages at or Amazon UK.





Author: cmsgardnerblog

I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, for teens and adults. I live in Central Victoria, Australia and my books are available at

4 thoughts on “The plural of ‘you’.

  1. I’ve often been frustrated at the temptation to refer to a group of people (even all females) as “guys”, and never really had the penny drop that it’s because there’s no acceptable gender-neutral plural of “you”. This is one of those things where once you see it you can’t un-see it.

  2. I agree Chris, with you and Wes. You cannot “un-see” nor un-hear these slang or cultural usages of common English pronouns. I’ve never heard or seen “youse” but am familiar with y’all, as it is a contraction for “you all”. “Guys” is well intended in referencing both genders and harmless. Thinking on it further, look at how objects or situations in society actually have a gender assignment, i.e. “mother nature”. Where is father? ;D

  3. ‘Everybody’ is still available, I think, as is ‘folks’, which I rather prefer yet seldom use. I must admit I quite like ‘guys’, but agree that it sounds awkward in female company. Our regional variations offer solace: here in the North-East ‘man’ is gender neutral. “Tracy, man!” is quite acceptable – as non-specific as the Essex ‘mate’.

  4. I quite like ‘folks’ too, although I think it’s used more here to describe parents. I don’t think I’d use either ‘mate’ or ‘man’ for women. ‘Everybody’ is fine of course, or we could just rephrase whatever it is we want to say, but I say let’s go with ‘guys’. It sounds friendly and informal–obviously not for all situations.

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