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Yesterday I was exposed to the fact the "yous" is a plural form of the pronoun you. while historically I know that "you" is actually the second person plural pronoun while the singular form is "thou".

My question is how common or widespread the use of this form (yous) in the spoken English from one side, and in the formal English on the other side (in Britain and Canada or even in USA? I just don't want to be strange or weird if I use it.

I asked this question due to my exposure to this post on Facebook which I found in its thousands comments - many times of usage in the pronoun "yous" (I've attached just some examples from a lot in the same post which its commentators using "yous". An example of the usage. It was taken from a public post on Facebook

many uses in the same post may show that it's common in use

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    It's quite common in certain areas and social circles. It's usually found in white working-class areas in the U.S. Don't use it in any formal sense or you risk being deemed on the low side of literate. Compare with Southern and Black pluralization "y'all" ... And in parts of Pennsylvania you'll hear "y'uns" for the same thing. – Robusto Oct 23 '16 at 18:17
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    It's dialect. As a nonnative speaker you will sound strange or weird if you use it. Also, it's not too common. Some old-fashioned or low educated people in northeast USA might say it. – Alan Carmack Oct 23 '16 at 20:48
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    @TafT: I'm guessing you're not from Liverpool then? – psmears Oct 24 '16 at 9:23
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    You are slightly off about the origins of some of the words you mention, from the wikipedia article on thou: "Following the Norman invasion of 1066, thou was used to express intimacy, familiarity or even disrespect, while another pronoun, you, the oblique/objective form of ye, was used for formal circumstances" – eirikdaude Oct 24 '16 at 10:48
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    @TafT: Well, as it's the native dialect of hundreds of thousands of people, I guess it does :-p – psmears Oct 24 '16 at 13:07
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This is a funny question to an Australian. Yous is commonly heard in Australia among people who are popularly referred to as bogans, but is also heard in the more regional parts of the country. A bogan is someone who is a little rough around the edges, probably poorly educated or sometimes just pretending to be (A 'bogan' who went to a private school since kindergarten is a particularly interesting phenomenon). As mentioned before though, it's not exclusive to bogans.

Anyway, it is generally seen as not proper English when used here which is funny because I hate saying 'you guys' or 'you all' and would like to be able to say "ya'll" or "youse". Sometimes I say, 'What are youse guys doing tonight?' to my friends for a laugh but as I said its usage is not widespread.

It's also spelt 'Youse' in Australia. See definition number 2: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Youse

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According to this usage note yous/youse is used in informal speech especially the northeast of the United States. The usage appear to have been common especially among immigrant communities whose first language had both the singular and the plural forms:

  • In American English the pronoun you has been supplemented by additional forms to make clear the distinction between singular and plural. You-all, often pronounced as one syllable, is a widespread spoken form in the South Midland and Southern United States. Its possessive is often you-all's rather than your.

  • You-uns (from you + ones) is a South Midland form most often found in uneducated speech; it is being replaced by you-all.

  • Youse (you + the plural -s ending of nouns), probably of Irish-American origin, is most common in the North, especially in urban centers like Boston, New York, and Chicago. It is rare in educated speech. You guys is a common informal expression among younger speakers; it can include persons of both sexes or even a group of women only. See also me.

Dictionary.com

Yous:

  • Modern English, unlike some other languages, has only one form of “you” for both singular and plural. It’s been suggested by some linguists that “you-all,” “you-uns” (a Pittsburgh expression) and “yous” or “youse” actually originated as attempts to differentiate singular “you” from plural “you.” I can see that this might be a natural response on the part of immigrants (and not just Italians) whose first languages had both singular and plural forms.

  • Another listener e-mailed me about the same thing. She says that “the use of the word youse as a plural of you is almost universal amongst the people of Derry. They also use the word youse-uns, as an emphatic form, with remarkable frequency.” She suggests that there is indeed a connection with the use of “yous” in this country and Irish immigration patterns.

Grammophobia

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    @AlanCarmack - how do you know? Can you please provide evidence of what you say? In any case, as explained in the reference in my answer, the expression is more related to immigrants communities. – user5267 Oct 23 '16 at 20:52
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    The locutions yous and youse are still used in some dialects, chiefly in and around New York City and Boston and to a lesser degree in Chicago (where it is pronounced yuhz) and would almost never be heard outside of those localities. Even in those localities, it is a marker for "low status" or "uneducated" speech. You have typo'ed northwest for northeast in your first paragraph. It is not heard in the northwest. – P. E. Dant Oct 23 '16 at 21:43
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    @AlanCarmack - interesting map, that confirms that it is still used in places like Boston, New York and Chicago as said in my answer. – user5267 Oct 23 '16 at 22:13
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American English:

Less than 1% of people reported saying you, yous in response to the question.

  1. What word(s) do you use to address a group of two or more people?

See the 2003 Harvard Dialect Survey, Map 50

Image of Choice B for yous, youse:

enter image description here

Yous, youse is, um, used mostly in such northeastern cities as New York and Boston, but even there it is not used by the majority of speakers. It is used mostly by lower class, less educated, (older) people.

Given that Texas (low central dot) Arkansas (dot just right of it) and Florida (extreme southeast) are warm weather states, one can hypothesize that these dots represent relocated, possibly retired people. The three dots on the extreme left are in California, which is full of people relocated from other areas of the USA.

As noted in the comments and in other answers, yous, youse is also used by some speakers of British English, (northern England, Scotland, Ireland), Australian English, and New Zealand English. It is a dialectal variant of standard English. As a nonnative speaker you will sound strange or weird if you use it.

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    I agree it's dialect, but I can personally affirm that "yous" can be heard beyond American English. In fact, a New Zealand English dialect includes a distinction between "yous" and "yous fullas": books.google.com.au/… books.google.com.au/… – RJHunter Oct 24 '16 at 1:57
  • yous(e) is very characteristic of (Lowland, esp. western) Scots and Scottish English. I would contest that the "usage" of it in the data is skewed because people are reluctant to write it and also to "admit" that they use it in a survey (even if they aren't ashamed of their way of speaking, they may automatically use their perceived "correct" answer -- the one they learnt in English class at school). – errantlinguist Oct 24 '16 at 9:11
  • As a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pennsylvania) native, I just wanted to check-in and confirm that "Yous" is an important part of the NEPA dialect, as confirmed by the map. It makes me a little homesick just seeing it! – Matt Oct 24 '16 at 10:07
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In Ireland, the use of the plural form of you is very common in 2 forms: youse and ye. 'Youse' is used mainly in working class areas of Dublin but is also heard in informal conversations in workplaces around the city and hinterlands. The use of 'ye' is even more common amongst people outside of Dublin, used in both formal and informal situations. In a lot of situations, the use of one of the other would be a strong hint as to the user's place of origin - Youse for blue-collar Dubs and Ye for culchies (country people). As a Dub with parents from the country, we used ye at home and youse at school (and the bus). The use of both forms is discouraged in formal conversations, in written and broadcast media, when dealing with non-native Hiberno-English speakers and when speaking to people from more self-conscious societal groups who substitute their use with 'You Guys (pronounced Goys)' (Southside Dubliners and teenagers).

  • As an Offaly guy (albeit with English parents), I definitely say (and write) ye. I would have said that youse is used in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Dublin. Other answers here have added Liverpool, Northern England, rural Australia, and parts of the USA. More widespread than I'd thought. That's cool. – TRiG Oct 24 '16 at 17:35
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It isn't common in British English. I've never heard it in England, but it is used sometimes in informal speech in Scotland, in phrases like "all of yous". The Scottish accent tends to pronounce the vowel in "you" and "yous" to rhyme with the French "tu" - a vowel sound which doesn't occur in standard British English. In Scotland "yous" can be singular as well as plural if it is used for emphasis, in a phrase like "It's yous I'm talking to!!" or "Will yous stop doin' that!!" (pronounced with a very distinct gap between the two s's in the words "yous stop").

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    "Yous" is also used in some Northern English variants of English. – Chris H Oct 24 '16 at 8:36
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    "It isn't common in British English. I've never heard it in England" Never been to Liverpool? You need to travel around your country more :) – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 24 '16 at 9:51
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Use of yous is extremely low in both formal and spoken English. Less than 0.00002 words of Google books are 'yous'. Thou is more commonly used (0.002+).

yous and thou

Usage of yous between 1800 and 2008:

yous

Frequency of the usage of yous,

enter image description here

and thou according to Collins Dictionary.

enter image description here

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    Books aren't spoken English though. I consider this to be a good example of why citing ngrams and dictionaries is insufficient. You'll find "yous" used almost 100% of the time in certain locales, when spoken aloud. – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 24 '16 at 9:50
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A lot here are saying that if you haven't heard "yous" spoken in England, you should try visiting Liverpool. I'd also like to add Newcastle to that. The most prolific user of "yous" I've ever know was a geordie.

As some people have already said, it is also fairly common in Scotland. I've never seen it written down anyway that you might call "formal usage".

In Yorkshire we still say "thou" and "thee", although "thou" is actually said (and written, but only informally) as "tha". I have heard some people say "thas" which is equivalent to "yous", but this isn't common at all, probably a slip of the tongue like when one says "sheeps" by accident.

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I have to point out another French resemblance, but instead of tu and "you" as alephzero presented, there's a closer resemblance with vous:

  1. ♦ (Plur.) Représente un groupe de personnes dont le locuteur est exclu. « Soldats, je suis content de vous » (Bonaparte)

    (Plural) Represents a group of people where the speaker is excluded. «Soldiers, I am happy with you(s) [all]»

  2. ♦ (Sing.) Remplaçant tu, toi, dans le vouvoiement. «S'il vous plaît.»

    (Singular) Replacement of you, thee, in a formal context. «If you please.»

The sound of Assiduous's example in particular:

yous at all OR youse at all

Is strikingly similar to:

vous attendez

(Plural or Singular in a formal context) you(s) await

Since in French, the s at the end connects with the vowel of the next word to form a z kind of sound in both cases. If the next word does not start with a vowel, then the sound is simply vou/vu which sounds more like "you".

This is just a resemblance I noticed, I could not find any historical proof that the English language was influenced by the French language in this particular case. However, vous origin is related to a Latin pronoun which also influenced the Italian voi, the Spanish vos and the Portuguese vós, which is yet another similarity that may help understand this resemblance:

Vous, Est un pronom, com. gen. De la seconde personne, singulier et pluriel, ores qu'il vienne de Vos pronom Latin, qui n'est qu'en pluriel, comme, Vous Pompée guerroyerez en Asie, Tu Pompei bellum in Asia geres (...) L'Espagnol dit Vos, et l'Italien Voi en mesme sorte, horsmis que l'Espagnol use de cette diction Vos, en despris et ravallement d'estime de celuy à qui il parle, là où le François use de cette diction Vous (comme fait aussi l'Iþtalien de la sienne Voi) par courtoisie et gracieuseté envers celuy à qui ils parlent, (...)

Relating to the question itself, the origins of the English dialects where yous is used may be important for knowing how frequent the word is spoken or written.

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You should avoid using it.

In my 12 years growing up in the Northeast and 30+ years living in the South, I've never heard it used anywhere in the United States except in old gangster movies from the 1920s and 30s spoken by goons.

"Y'all", on the other hand, is quite common in the US South.

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    Youse and yuhz are still commonly heard in some parts and socio-economic strata of New York, Boston, and Chicago from many folks who were raised there. Either you haven't visited those urban centers, or your associations there are insufficiently plebian. – P. E. Dant Oct 23 '16 at 21:47

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