A follower just asked me if “yous guys” is proper English. This is a great question, considering the amount of colloquial language thrown around carelessly every day. As the school year creeps upon us, now is the perfect time to clean up our communication skills.
You Guys vs. Yous Guys
Let’s set the record straight away: Yous guys is improper English. Do not say it, do not write it, and do not even think it. The extra ‘s’ is mistakingly added by those who believe there is a plural form of ‘you.’ Unlike numerous other languages, English does not have a plural form of you. (Incidentally, this is the same mistake made when speaking the phrase ‘y’all.’ Again, there is no need to pluralize you with the word ‘all.’ ‘You’ is the pronoun that refers to one person or to a number of people. The form never changes.) If you must use this colloquial phrase, use you guys.
Grading Girl actually doesn’t like to use the phrase at all. It sounds colloquial and lowers the speaking level. You guys is commonly used to address multiple people at once. The person speaking the phrase is often angry and upset. The individual often does not know whom or where to direct his/her anger or lecture so the individual directs it at an often innocent, larger audience. This is commonly heard in the workplace where one tries to curtail his/her frustrations while maintaining anonymity.
GG’s bottom line: Try to avoid you guys because of its colloquial connotation but never use yous guys because of its improper form of you.
Thank you to my follower, Lori Lewis, for the question. Keep the grammar questions coming, GG readers. I post a mini-lesson every Tuesday for TeacherTuesday on Twitter!
We sometimes hear people say “Oh, that was funner” and it’s like the world stops. Somewhere in the world, someone starts scratching her nails on a blackboard. But wait a minute! Why CAN’T you say “funner?” I doubt many people know WHY they can’t say it. All they know is that it’s a no-no. So Grading Girl would like to discuss why “funner” isn’t a word.
What is “fun?”
Well, I think dancing is fun. I think working out is fun. Ohhhhhhhhh, you want to know about the WORD fun. Ok, let’s do it. Fun has generally been considered a noun in the past – meaning it’s a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun can’t have superlative forms. For example, you wouldn’t say that “The white dog is dogger than the black one.” Dog is a noun. It cannot be more or less than “dog.”
Due to our ever-evolving English language, however, (see my essay on our crazy English language, Do Fingers Fing?)it has now become an adjective. Most one-syllable adjectives we can add an er or est to, such as “hotter/hottest.” Yet in this case, we still hold on the to notion of its “noun” usage, and say “more fun” or the “most fun.” Even though it’s still in debate if we can say “funner,” I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “funnest” and haven’t cringed. The extreme superlative seems to be more common and accepted than the middle one.
Although the words are in most dictionaries, it is still not considered “proper” to say funner or funnest. Perhaps over time it will become accepted, but until then Grading Girl suggests saying “more” or “most” “fun.” It sounds better!
Let’s review the English language, shall we?
(adapted from an anonymous handout lying around, waiting to be rescued from the recycling bin)
Grading Girl concludes that English is a crazy language. I can think of many examples to support this. . . some are from an anonymous essay sent my way, others are GG’s own contemplations: There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither is there an apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or french fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
Why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
And what about the phrase “Believe you me.” That one still boggles my mind. . . .
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
PS ~ Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick?’
Linguistic lovers will especially enjoy this ~
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?
We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special. And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP . We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP , for now my time is UP, so………… it is time to shut UP! 😉