The Reflection Pool

Just Stop Using “You Guys”

It’s time for me to write this post, since I’ve been thinking about it for over 10 years. I kept hoping it would catch on. It hasn’t. So here goes…

I wish everyone to stop using the term “you guys” when referring to a mixed gender group of people. I get why people use it. It’s cool, quick and casual. It rolls off the tongue. And yet, it excludes.

This isn’t a new idea. Just a brief internet search turned up a couple of articles, one from 2005 and another from 2015. Both make the argument much better than I could. It’s basically this: using a male term (yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one) to describe a group of people that don’t all identify as male is sexist.  There, I said it.  This may seem ridiculous to some. I can hear eye rolling from here. After all, it’s not the most offensive term out there. Still, when I think about the power of language to help or to harm, I don’t find “you guys” helpful. To me, it represents a creeping line of a male-centric view. I’d rather use a term than includes everybody.

Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale via Compfight cc

What to use instead? Here’s a list of words I’ve used and that also appear in this  article 40 Gender-Neutral Alternatives to saying “You guys” by Kim Z. Dale






There are more – maybe you can share with me?

9 thoughts on “Just Stop Using “You Guys”

  1. I have heard you use people. Great blog and very timely.
    I cringe when I still catch myself saying boys and girls or ladies and gentlemen, I try to say students but I am not always successful.
    Thanks Sue

    1. Thanks for reading, Terri. I’ve struggled with changing my language too and of course I slip up. If you hear me, please bring it to my attention!

  2. Sue, I really appreciate that you wrote this post. I remember getting this advice when I was in the Faculty of Education 19 years ago. It still holds true today. I know that I sometimes still make this mistake, and it’s funny, as it’s the one saying that really stands out to me when others say it. Sometimes I find it hard to know how to address a group of students, if addressing them is necessary. I try not to say anything beyond “hello,” or I choose “everyone or everybody” the most. “Boys and girls” was suggested to me years ago, but that’s one that is also not suggested now. I like “friends” and use it, but then have also been told that four-year-olds are really not your friends (which is true). So the struggle can be real, but I think the awareness of language is also good. My use of “hey guys” (or something similar) has me listening more to what I say, and correcting myself when I make a mistake. I wonder if others find the same.


    1. Thanks for your reply, Aviva. I think your experience is probably similar to others. When our use of language is so embedded, it can be hard to change, but definitely worth it!

    1. Hi Diana – thanks for commenting! You post was great…and funny! I find the more I use an alternative, the easier it is, like any good habit you’re trying to form.

  3. I have tried addressing groups of students by using the mascot tied to our school (ie – “Hi Falcons”, “Hey Cardinals”, “How are we doing today, Bobcats”). I still use “folks” for staff. I was terrible at using “guys” and it took me plenty of practice before getting better at it.

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