Modern Alternatives To Saying “Guys” and “You Guys”

group of friends meeting

Listen up, everyone: we know you all have questions, so let’s talk about the terms guys and you guys. You may be asking if there are any good substitutes for such useful terms. The answer is yes, and we have suggestions for each and every one of you. (Including some that we just used without y’all even noticing it).

Is guys gender-neutral?

For years, the term guys and expressions like you guys have been commonly employed to address groups regardless of the gender of the group’s members, including by women addressing other women.

Despite the long history of this kind of use, such terms nevertheless carry gendered origins and connotations. The singular guy, for example, is never used to address or refer to an individual girl or woman. Applying the terms guys and you guys indiscriminately can end up excluding, ignoring, or creating discomfort for some people—particularly women and nonbinary people.

For these reasons, some people prefer to avoid using such terms, because they prefer not to be addressed in these ways or want to respect the preferences of those who don’t.

Gender-neutral words for guys

There’s no doubt that the word guys is useful and, for many people, extremely frequently used. It can be hard to stop using language that comes so naturally, especially when it seems hard-coded into the way we communicate. But there are plenty of similar—and very simple and familiar—terms that can serve all the same functions with complete gender-neutrality.

We’ve done our best to avoid clunky approximations that often miss the mark tone-wise or overstep familiarity (not all strangers like to be called friends, for example). Here are some suggestions for replacing guys or avoiding its use.


Here’s a simple alternative to saying guys or you guys: address people with their names.


When thinking about alternatives to you guys, the simplest solution is often to just drop the guys. You is used by itself as a plural in this way all the time.


Y’all is a contraction of you all, a construction that English speakers in the US South have found useful for centuries. There are similar regionalisms (like yinz, you-uns, yous, and youse), but these are far less widespread and recognizable than y’all, whose use has spread beyond the South.

Y’all is such an efficient, useful word—especially because it comes with a built-in sense of friendliness, warmth, and inclusion. It’s casual but not overly personal, and frankly just a lot of fun to say.

For these reasons, many have proposed it as the perfect gender-neutral alternative (in both tone and function) to guys and you guys.

Still, some are uncomfortable using y’all or hesitant to embrace it due to a number of factors, such as feeling overly folksy or inauthentic—like they’re imitating someone else’s speech. The good news is that another alternative is hiding right inside of y’all.

you all, all of you, all

You all and all of you are options that come with a lot of the same benefits as y’all but without the regional association. They can be used in many of the same ways that you guys is used.

For example:

  • What did you all do this weekend?
  • Do you all have some time to help me with this?
  • I can’t believe all of you did this for me.
  • Hey, all of you, come look at this.

The word all can be used by itself as a term of address for groups.

For example:

  • Hey, all, check this out.
  • Attention, all: please gather round.

each of you

To address individuals within a group, you can use the phrase each of you.

For example:

  • Each of you will have a chance to ask a question.

you both, both of you, you two

You both, both of you, and you two function the same way as you all and all of you except that they are reserved for addressing two people, instead of larger groups.

For example:

  • What did you both do this weekend?
  • Do both of you have some time to help me with this?
  • I can’t believe you two did this for me.

Of course, these phrases can be easily varied to address specific numbers of people, as in the three of you, you four, all five of you, etc.

folks, you folks

Addressing people by actually using the word people can be tricky—it can be used to sound positive (Good job, people!), but it’s also associated with less polite use (Come on, people, get it together!).

What about people vs. peoples or persons? Read more about these terms.

A good alternative is folks, which, like y’all, has some built-in friendliness. And the phrase you folks can easily stand in for you guys.

For example:

  • What did you folks do this weekend?
  • Hey, folks, come look at this.
  • Are you folks interested in looking at the dessert menu?

If you feel like folks sounds too, well, folksy, there are also some very general options.

everyone, everybody

Easy, go-to options to address a large group of people are everyone and everybody.

For example:

  • What did everyone do this weekend?
  • Hey, everybody, come look at this.

All of the options to this point have been very general. But there are also options that work for more specific situations, such as when you want to be more informal or when you’re communicating in the classroom, the workplace, or with a team.

team, squad, crew, etc.

Informal collective terms of address like these are best reserved for people you’re familiar with, such as your close colleagues at work or a group of children.

For example:

  • Nice work, team.
  • OK, squad, listen up.
  • Hey, crew, settle in and let’s get started.


In classroom settings, the obvious option is students (which also works as an easy-to-remember alternative to the gendered boys and girls).

kids, children

Parents who want to avoid using the word guys (when addressing a son and daughter, for example) may be grasping for a term that packs as much meaning as the exasperated inflection of it (“Guys. Guys.”)—the one that’s meant to simultaneously scold and generate immediate attention (used upon occasions such as discovering wet clothes between couch cushions). In this case, may we suggest applying that same inflection to gender-neutral alternatives, such as kids, children, or little squirrels. (Finding ways to simultaneously express affection and frustration is among the main challenges of parenthood.)

peers, colleagues

These options for a professional setting can convey a sense of equality and warmth. If you feel like it would sound sincere, you could even throw in an adjective like esteemed. In the case of peers, though, just make sure that the people you’re addressing actually are (or consider themselves) your peers.


As mentioned before, not all strangers are comfortable being addressed as friends, so reserve this one in most cases for your actual friends. And don’t miss the opportunity to develop your own very specific and highly informal terms of address for your friend group, such as sibs from different cribs (shout-out to whatever Tumblr user coined this one).

Speaking of highly informal terms of address, that brings us to a related question.

Here are 10 more ways to be more inclusive with your language.

Is dude gender-neutral?

Much like guys and you guys, the word dudes is often used to informally address friends regardless of gender. While the singular dude can be used this way, too, it’s more commonly used in a way similar to how the singular guy is often used—to specifically refer to a man or boy, as in I’ve never seen that dude before—who is he?

Because of this strong association, some people avoid using the words dude or dudes when addressing mixed-gender groups, especially those they don’t know. And using the phrase dudes and dudettes (with the female counterpart dudette) still has the problem of excluding nonbinary people in the same way that the phrases ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls do.

But don’t worry, there are options.

Gender-neutral alternatives for dude, bro, and similar terms

Some similar terms are buddy, pal, mate, champ, and boss. Though these are all gender-neutral, keep in mind that these have all been traditionally applied to men and boys, so some people might recoil at being referred to in these ways (apart from the obvious reason that such terms are intentionally over-the-top).

One alternative to using dude by itself is to substitute the word yo. It’s an interjection rather than a term of address, but it carries a lot of the same energy.

For example, instead of saying You missed it, dude! or You missed it, bro!, try saying You missed it, yo!

Bonus: yo can also be used to express the same subtle emotions that dude can—namely to indicate that you’re exasperated (Dude. Seriously. Stop. → Yo. Seriously. Stop.) or impressed (DUDE! YO!).

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