The Problem With ‘Hey Guys’
In August, Joe Pinsker wrote about the greeting—and why many people are looking for a more inclusive alternative.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. The perfect word already exists: everyone.
New York, N.Y.
I grew up using guys to address any group. Now I’m the lone female on and a manager of a small, entirely male team. The first and only time I used guys to address them suddenly stripped the word of its gender-neutral meaning. I’m now on board with team y’all and everyone, depending on the day and the context.
Many Australians criticize the use of guys for its Americanness, meaning that y’all would probably not find favor here for mainstream use. I think it just feels too artificial for us to say, despite Australians’ being heavy consumers of American culture. (I have noticed some young Australians using y’all playfully on social media, but never in real life.)
Australian English and some dialects of British English have developed youse as a plural second-person pronoun: “Do youse wanna come round this arvo for a coldie?” Youse is generally considered uneducated and unprofessional, but it is a local solution to the problem addressed in the article.
I’d be interested to know how other parts of the Anglosphere address this problem.
Clara Antonia Marsh
It has always been my impression, as someone who has migrated in fits and starts from the Atlantic to the Pacific side of the nation, that the use of guys on the East Coast has a strong male connotation (Guys and Dolls) and that the word takes on a more neutral and inclusive meaning on the mellow Left Coast.
Guys should become gender neutral. If women can go by traditionally male names, then women can accommodate a term that was once male.
Regarding your article on the use of guys, I question why we feel the need to identify those we are speaking to by gender or other means. Is there anything wrong with a simple “Hello” or “Good morning,” for example?
In my opinion, “Hey guys” is just another example of how our daily English has become more sloppy, inaccurate, and politically inane.