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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Mr. Grammarman

This relates to with radio, but bear with me.

We all have pet peeves. Some of my peeves deal with English. I’m not perfect, but I think I’m pretty good.

This time it’s about “you.” Or as I keep hearing more and more, “you guys” and “you all” (or “y’all”).

I find it funny that so many people try so hard to make “you” an obvious plural. “You” is singular and plural in modern English, and except in rare cases, it’s obvious when “you” is meant to be singular or plural. So why do so many feel the need to use “you guys” so often?

What’s ironic about the forced plural is that historically, “you” was only plural. (“Ye” was also used.) The singular was “thou” or “thee.” Over time, “you” become a formal singular usage and then finally replaced thee/thou for familar usage.

Back to the present, the most absurd use of “you guys” is when it is made possessive. “Is this your guys’ store?” where it sounds like “Is this your guises store?” Just today i saw someone write “What is your all’s preference?”

The connection to broadcasting? Listeners hear language misused on the air and tend to repeat it. While colloquialisms and regional speech are part of localism, broadcasting should set an example. It’s almost to the point where non-native English speakers speak English better than the native speakers.

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