Y’all want to sound Southern? Then you’ll want to know when you sound wrong by misspelling the word.
Y’all is the correct spelling of this Southern expression. Though a contraction of “you all,” y’all usually is used as a plural form of “you,” as in Aunt Janie, you get the iced tea; Dawn and Missy, y’all set up the chairs.
Ya’ll is incorrect because the apostrophe represents the missing “ooo” sound created by the letters o and u. Writers probably use the ya’ll spelling because it phonetically matches how y’all sounds, but the use of an apostrophe would be nonsensical in the construction.
Y’awl perhaps is a better phonetic spelling. Still, yawl (without an apostrophe) is an actual word that means “cry out, howl or yell.” So using yawl or y’awl for y’all can be confusing to readers.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.