Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ya'll vs. Y'all - A Texan's Anguish

There are only a few things in life that drive me absolutely nuts, and this is one of them. I've just read another book by an author who mangled the whole 'you all' contraction, and Lordy, do I feel a rant coming on. If one of your characters has any reason to speak Texan, or even Southern for that matter, this is vital information.


Before we start this discussion, you need to know that I'm no Grammar Girl. I loathe the comma. Semi-colons give me the willies. But I DO know with absolute certainty the correct way to contract 'you all'. (It's one of those things that's gifted to you when you're birthed in Texas, like knowing that dry rub has no place on a quality piece of meat. Don't go rubbing my brisket with that gritty stuff, babe...)

So here we go.

Let's start with the general idea. A contraction is simply a way to shorten two words into one by using an apostrophe to replace the missing letter (or letters) and the space between the words:

"I am" becomes "I'm" - the apostrophe replaces the 'a' in am

"she will" becomes "she'll" - the apostrophe replaces the 'wi' in will

See? It's ridiculously easy. So if I want to shorten 'you all' into one word, what would I do?

Some writers put the apostrophe AFTER the 'a', as in: ya'll. *shudders* Now tell me, does that make ANY sense given the law of contractions? No. It does not. The proper way to contract 'you all' is by using the apostrophe to replace the 'ou' in you and the space between the words, as in:

y'all

It's beautiful in its simplicity, don't you think? Boy, do I feel better, maybe even up to tackling a semi-colon or two. Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.

What grammar or punctuation mistakes drive y'all nuts?