To all of you from other parts,
Both city folks and rural,
Please listen while I tell you that
The phrase, "you all," is plural.
When we say, "You all must drop by,
Or we all shall be lonely,"
We mean a dozen folks, perhaps,
And not one person only.
If I should say to Mr. Jones
For instance, "You all's lazy,"
Or, "Will you all lend me a hand?"
He'd think that I was crazy.
Now, if you'd be more sociable
And with us often mingle,
You'd find that on the native tongue
"You all" is never single.
Don't think I mean to criticize,
Or act as if I knew all,
But when we speak of one alone,
We all say "you". . . like you all.
-Betty McLarin Burks, 1945