Guys, Not ok

Last updated on September 17, 2020

“Hey Guys!”

As easy-going as the term “guys” is for addressing a group of people, it is exclusionary. It is gender-specific. Nonetheless, it is probably in the top 10 or 20 most commonly used words in the English language (I have no data or citation to back this up. I’m just guessing).

I am certainly at fault for using “guys” in when communicating. I am willing to bet a dozen doughnuts that most of those reading this post also users of “guys” (the term guys, not actual guys). It’s an implicit bias of the English language, or at least North American English.

I did a little reading on this topic (links below). It seems that some would argue that the commonality of “guys” as a colloquialism has made it general neutral. I don’t buy into that.

And so, what then are suitable alternatives? Here are are some gender-neutral or inclusive substitutes for “guys” suggested by the internets:

  • Everybody
  • Team
  • People
  • Folks
  • You all
  • Y’all
  • Friends
  • Crowd
  • Pals
  • Gang
  • Chums
  • Associates
  • Pack
  • Squad

While these terms may be gender-neutral, most of the terms sound somewhat grating to me. Especially “folks” and “friends.” I hate “folks”  and “friends,” particularly when used by politicians.

My go to choice has been to drop the term when writing and try not to use “guys” or a substitute for “guys” when speaking. For example, I’ll say “Hey” instead of “Hey guys” or “let’s move on” instead of “ok guys, let’s move.”

Links to Resources on the word “Guys”