Feb 28 2017
Imagine that you and a group of friends are planning a trip to the United States. You’re not sure where to go. Should you visit the tropical islands of Hawaii? The busy streets of New York? The dark forests of Alaska? Then, a couchsurfer invites you to visit the American South. He sends you a message that reads, I invite all y’all to my neck of the woods. I reckon it’ll be fun. After reading his email, you’re not sure what he means.
The American South is an area with a lot of interesting words and expressions. If you travel to a state like Georgia, Texas, or Mississippi, you’ll hear some of these things. Let’s read that email again: I invite all y’all to my neck of the woods. I reckon it’ll be fun. In regular American English, the message is: I invite all of you to my town. I think it’ll be fun. For English language learners, y’all is a really cool word. It can be used when talking to a group of people in the South. Many languages have a word for y’all, meaning you all or all of you.
It’s time to start filming Kelsey’s country music video, but no one knows what the backdrop will be yet. Will it be tractors, a hayride, or something else? We hope all y’all enjoy watching today’s English soap opera!
Kate: All right! It’s great to have all y’all here today. Let me introduce you to the crew while Kelsey gets ready. This here is Ted. He will be running the camera. Next to him is Brad. Brad will be helping Ted with the camera and the lighting. Say hi, Brad.
Kate: Over here, we have Dicky. He will be holding the microphone.
Jordin: Quick question.
Jordin: Will we be using the sound from today for the music video?
Kate: No. We have a high-quality recording of the song that we will use.
Jordin: So, why the sound guy?
Kate: Gives him something to do. Any other questions?
Jordin: Oh! Me! I brought several options for wardrobe. Did you want to see…
Kate: Oh! Wait just a minute. Yes, I hope you all brought wardrobe. If you can get it ready, then I’ll come by and choose which clothes work best.
Dominique: What’s going to be the backdrop?
Kate: The backdrop?
Dominique: Behind us. Since we are filming right in front of the green screen, I was curious what was going to be on the backdrop.
Kate: Yes, Kelsey and I are still working on that, but we wanted to shoot the video before we decide what it’s going to be.
Dominique: What if we were on a beach? We could have Sheila film herself on the beach, and then you could put it in later.
Jordin: It’s a country music video.
Dominique: Or a hayride?
Jordin: Or we could all be driving tractors.
Dominique: Or if we were on horses.
Jordin: Horses! Yeah, that’d be great!
Kate: Excuse me! Can I have all y’all’s attention? Let’s focus on the next step, which is choosing wardrobe. So, Jordin, I’m going to start with you.
Kelsey’s friends are excited. They’re in the studio, finally ready to help Kelsey with her country music video! Kate, who is directing the video, introduces them to the crew. Ted will be behind the camera. Brad will help with the camera and the lighting. Dicky will hold the microphone.
Jordin and Dominique have a few questions for Kate. Jordin wants to know if Kate can look at her wardrobe. Jordin isn’t sure what to wear for the music video. Dominique is more interested in the green screen behind her. She has some ideas about what kind of backdrop will be best, but Kate thinks this decision must wait until after wardrobe.
What kind of music do all y’all enjoy? Would you like to go on a hayride someday?
No one is sure what to use for the music video’s backdrop. Dominique suggests, “We could have Sheila film herself on the beach, and then you could put it in later.” Dominique uses a reflexive pronoun.
Reflexive pronouns are used in English when the subject of the sentence is also the object of the verb. Simply add the appropriate pronoun with the ending –self or –selves after the verb. For example, “Let me introduce myself. My name is Sonia,” or, “The children enjoyed themselves at the beach.”
Some verbs change their meaning slightly when they have a reflexive pronoun as direct object. For instance, “She found herself at the grocery store,” or, “We will help ourselves to some coffee.” To find oneself means to discover oneself in a surprising place or situation, and to help oneself means to take.
Dominique’s verb does not change meaning. She doesn’t want Sheila to film a boring palm tree or a crab, she wants Sheila to film herself. If she were talking directly to Sheila, she would say, “Sheila, I want you to film yourself on the beach.”
Which is correct, “Would y’all like to make yourself comfortable,” or, “Would y’all like to make yourselves comfortable”?