You all may prefer to use neither, but there is a correct contraction to use when combining the words “you” and “all.” In this Grammar Rules post, we look at whether writers should use y’all or ya’ll in their writing.
For better or worse, the contraction of the words “you” and “all” has played a significant part of my growth and development as a person and human being on this planet. I would blame my Appalachian heritage, but honestly, I’m OK with using the contraction…as long as it’s used appropriately.
So let’s look at which is the correct contraction for “you” and “all.” Is it y’all or ya’ll?
Y’all vs. Ya’ll
OK, this mistake drives me crazy, but I don’t want to just give the answer. I want us to think about the answer and then avoid the mistake completely in the future, because this is one of my top pet peeves. Here are some example contractions:
He + Is = He’sWe + Will = We’llThey + Are = They’reI + Have = I’ve
So, y’all is the correct contraction for “you + all,” right? Of course, it is, y’all.
And that means ya’ll is incorrect and, for me, the equivalent of hearing nails screeching on a blackboard. While some people might give me grief for using y’all from time to time, it’s at least the correct contraction. Ya’ll, on the other hand, makes no sense at all. I mean seriously, what is it combining? “Yams” and “will”? It makes about that much sense.
So if you want to sound colloquial and/or Appalachian, feel free to combine “you” and “all” to your heart’s delight, but please, spell it right, y’all.
If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly.