by Kristin Holloway
A little disclaimer before I get started: I’m not a grammar Nazi. I’m prone to comma splices and have been known to change tenses within the same paragraph. Also, using semi colons without the rules in front of me makes me nervous. But despite my shortcomings, I’m still allowed to have pet peeves, right?
And that pet peeve is when “y’all” is misspelled.
Recently, I’ve noticed plenty of people (even high profile people) committing this crime against the Southern lexicon and I’ve been working diligently to put an end to it. (In fact, just last week, I shamed the good people who run FOLK magazine’s Instagram account into correcting this mistake on a post. Yes, I’m that girl. A pet peeve is a pet peeve, y’all.) So let’s get something straight: The frequently used and oh-so-incorrect “ya’ll” is not and never has been a word. But on the other hand, “y’all’ is an accepted and commonplace word found in Southerner’s jargon.
Truth be told, I don’t truly understand how one manages to make the mistake, especially considering when “ya’ll” is typed out on any word processing program; the red squiggly line of shame appears underneath it, letting you know you’ve done wrong, but I presume that these perpetrators are just uninformed when it comes to understanding contractions and how they are implemented. A contraction is just simply a way to shorten two words into one using an apostrophe to substitute for the missing letter(s). Here are a few quick examples just to reiterate how that works: he will becomes he’ll, I am becomes I’m, do not becomes don’t, and so on and so forth. So unless you believe the incorrect notion that “ya’ll” is shorthand for “ya will” (instead of “you all”), y’all would be the proper form.
Isn’t that simple? There’s just something copacetic about apostrophes being in the correct place. It almost makes me feel empowered enough to try and use a semi colon without looking up the rules first. Almost.