The word "guy", in its singular form, is used to refer to a man, so it's gender specific. However, in colloquial language, you can also use the expression "you guys" to refer to a group of people.

When used in the plural form, is "guys" gender agnostic? Can you use "you guys" to refer to a group of women?

2 Answers 2


It's totally fine as long as you're mindful of who you're saying it to, however that might be more of an issue of tone than it is of offending people for using gendered speech.

To break it down, you would be totally fine saying something like "are you guys coming?" to a group of guys, to a group of guys and girls, or even a group of girls. If it's just a group of girls you can say "you girls" or "you ladies" or whatever you prefer, but guys is acceptable.

You cannot use "guys" generally to refer to women in all situations. For example, if you were to say "I went out to dinner with some guys from work" I would assume that it was a group of all men. In fact there are plenty of girls who take pride in being "one of the guys," which means they think they are treated like a "guy" when in groups of male friends.

If you're worried about making a mistake with it, just keep your references to girls as "guys" to the phrase "you guys," and use gender neutral words for the rest. I think that in general that rule should hold true, with anything other than "you guys" having a distinct masculine connotation, with some room for a few exceptions.

10 year update:

Since this question was first answered in 2013 the dialogue around gender and speech has evolved significantly. Although I think the original content of the answer largely still holds, I do also think there is an increased need to be mindful of audience and context. While many, if not most, will still not object to this general usage of "guys," the issue has become highly polarized and you may be more likely than before to come across people who take issue with it and try to police its usage. On the whole, it's still not really a faux pas to use it, but at the same time don't be surprised when HR at work, for example, gently nudges everyone to avoid using it in favor of inclusive gender-neutral language.

  • 1
    It is totally fine for women to say it to women it is not so great for a guy to say it to a bunch of women. A guy should say: You ladies, to a bunch of women.
    – Lambie
    Mar 18, 2021 at 16:31
  • 1
    @Lambie That depends on where you live. It's not like the n-word where only one side is allowed to say it and the other cannot.
    – forest
    May 5, 2021 at 19:12
  • At the very least I think it's debatable, perhaps more so now than when I answered this 8 years ago. As gendered speech becomes more of a salient issue the number of people who take issue with referring to a group of girls as "you guys" will increase. I don't think we've reached a tipping point yet, though.
    – ssb
    May 5, 2021 at 19:46
  • Corroborating the "where you live" bit. In the part of the Midwestern US I'm from, "you guys" is pretty universal (even so far as phrases like "come on, guys!" being used for a group of all women). I feel like the times I usually heard "you ladies" it was from, like, a teacher, waiter, or someone older (Gen Xish? and up). In the part of the South Central US I did college, "y'all" and "you guys" both were present. I think "you all" is the only real markerless option in the US, as slightly formal as it sounds. I'd pick you guys, y'all, or you ladies depending on what the people around you use Jul 24, 2023 at 16:45

IMHO, the best term comparable to guys is gals. Hence, you gals.

As the most gender-neutral alternative, guys and gals sounds good, even referring to a group of people consisting of only males or only females. To me, it sounds like an informal alternative of ladies and gentlemen.

Girls does not sound plausible since it is used to refer female children or teenagers, rather than adults.

However, "you guys" certainly outnumbers "you gals" by circa 200-fold.

  • 8
    The problem I see with gals is that it's very dated, in the UK at least. It sounds like a word from the 1950s, used for effect, rather than used in casual conversation.
    – Matt Ellen
    Feb 14, 2013 at 11:51
  • 1
    "gals" is dated, but not dead (US). "Ladies" would be the more common choice.
    – horatio
    Feb 22, 2013 at 19:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .