C. Neuroticus Absolutus
I cringe each time my wife and I enter a restaurant and the hostess says, “Hi, you guys. How many in your party?” Aaughhhh! Then the server (politically correct for waiter or waitress) says, “How you guys doing?” Forget that missing verb. It’s the you guys that agravates me.
Try as I may, try as I might, I can't remember which grade I was in or the teacher's name, but I do remember what she taught us.
Recall the chart in your English workbook that asked you to fill in the plurals of these five pronouns?
1st Person Singular: I 1st Person Plural: ______
2nd Per. Sing: You 2nd Person Plural: ____
3rd Per.Sing: He/she/it 3rd Person Plural: ____
You could have answered the First Person Plural with: me and her, or him and me, as in, “Me and her go to school.” Or as in, “Him and me study English.” While understandable, those would be wrong. Correct answer? We. “We go to school,” and, “We study English.”
The Second Person Plural is tricky, I admit. Since I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in Florida, I was often confronted by the various attempts of my young southern brethren to solve this puzzle. The most common usage was y'all, a contraction of you and all. The problem is, y'all must certainly express First Person Singular because the plural of y'all is all y'all. I hope I didn't confuse all y'all.
Another contender for Second Person Plural is you guys. Guy and guys have a friendly Southern feeling about them. One day, as a newcomer to 1940s Florida, I recollect trying to ingratiate myself with the boys in my third grade class. I plopped myself down at a table, opened the paper bag lunch I’d toted to school, looked around and said, “You guys sure do like yer grits.” Well, I got my ass kicked during the next recess period. Several times. And I distinctly remember the phrase, “All y'all damn Yankees need to go back up north where you come from.”
Well, if you're still with me, the correct answer for Second Person Plural is: (ta-dah) You. Singular and plural: Unadorned you.
A giant leap for mankind is required for this next sojourn into proper pronoun usage. He/she/it are not pluralize as hes/shes/its by simply affixing an S as we do with nouns such as cow/cows, pig/pigs and aardvark/aardvarks. No, the answer is not yourn either, which is the Southern variation for the possessive pronoun your. I remember a quip from the Red Skelton radio days when someone said, “You can call me Pee Pee cause I’m all yourn.” Anyway, the correct answer for Third Person Plural is they.
For this egregious trip into the past, I’ll ignore gender and possessive pronouns and the archaic pronoun forms. It was hard enough getting this far.
As for you guys, I keep threatening to cut my tips to servers if they even breathe the word guy or any variation thereof. You guys can thank my wife for my continuing generosity.