Is It Rude to Say “You Guys”?

In today’s world of changing social attitudes and norms, it may be difficult to keep up with the latest developments – even if you have good intentions.

The term ”you guys” may be fine if you’re speaking to the relevant audience, but its usage isn’t embraced by everyone.

Is saying ”you guys” rude? Well, like all things, it depends on the context. If you’re saying it to a group of people as a casual greeting, then no. However, if you’re saying it to somebody who you know doesn’t identify as a male, and are saying it despite their insistence, then yes, it is rude. 

There is, however, a lot more to unpack on this topic so let’s jump right in.

The concept of gendered language is a complicated one in English as unlike in other languages, there is no set masculine and feminine voice. Therefore, words can get lost in translation and disappear into the proverbial haystack of words we use as greetings.

When To Use ”You Guys” In Speech

The term ”you guys” is best used when speaking to a group of males or people who identify as males. That way, you can be certain that your use of the phrase does not offend anyone or ignore their gender identity.

The phrase can be used for women if you’re certain that they won’t take issue. However, if you use ”you guys”’ accidentally or out of habit, then it is unlikely to ruffle any feathers and people will understand the slip-up.

When Not To Use ”You Guys” In Speech

Though the greeting is a casual, laid-back way of greeting a group of several people, ”you guys” is not particularly welcomed by those who do not identify as male. If you’re politely asked not to use it, then by all means take their words on board and consider an alternative greeting.

Terms like ”y’all” (an abbreviation of ‘you all’ used commonly in the Southern United States) or simply ”everybody” are great gender-neutral expressions that you can use with anybody, at any time.

Other alternatives include, but are not limited to:

  • ”Hey, folks”
  • ”Listen, everybody”
  • ”Hello, friends”

There is nothing inherently wrong with saying ”you guys” but you’d rather not find yourself in hot water by using a gendered greeting with somebody who doesn’t appreciate it. Very rarely will they take offense, though, as long as you acknowledge their valid concerns and make an effort not to use any exclusive language around them.

Should I Stop Saying ”You Guys” In Speech?

There’s no need to stop saying it if the people you use it with are comfortable with it. Though a potentially offensive phrase, the term ”you guys” is not objectively rude, and its use is not frowned upon by most people.

However, it does depend on who you say it to, so be sure to keep a keen ear out for any critique of the term and any recipients who do not like it and prefer another expression.

Final Thoughts

Language is a tricky thing and its usage can offend one person without offending another. You should use your common sense when using phrases like ”you guys” and know your audience before you use it.

The phrase is not inclusive to non-males or non-binary people, so keep that in mind if you ever catch yourself using it. Changing your language may not be a big deal to you, but it may mean a lot to somebody else.

Society should always strive to be more inclusive and it all starts with the words we use with one another.