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Help and advice for YORKSHIRE FOLK TALK: Grammatical

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Written in 1892 by the

Rev. M.C.F. Morris B.C.L., M.A.




ONE needs some apology for speaking about Grammar: of all dry and unpalatable subjects, whether for the schoolboy, or for those of maturer years, English Grammar is the driest. It has always been a marvel to me that our hard-worked schoolmasters in the Elementary Schools can ever get the country lads to learn it at all. A few years ago there were ugly rumours of strikes even among the scholars of some of our schools: I cannot but think that English Grammar must have been at the bottom of all that ! What can the ideas of the children be of Greek and Latin affixes, prefixes, and suffixes? Multiplication no doubt vexes their youthful minds, division may do the same, rule of three may puzzle them at times, especially if it be 'double'; still even those horrors may be endured, and the young folks may perhaps come out of the ordeal all the clearer headed for it; but of all maddening things, English Grammar must be to them the most maddening. The one consolation to them is that the Education Department, with its attendant Code, cannot follow them beyond the school precincts, that they can leave their Greek and Latin affixes, prefixes, and suffixes behind them upon the desks as soon as they get outside the school doors and return - relapse or retrogress if you like - to Yorkshire Grammar once more. I confess that I cannot refrain from a sort of inward satisfaction when I hear, as I have so often heard, at the close of a long three hours in school on some fine summer day, the sudden and joyous transition on the part of the scholars as they rush into the fresh air, from 'Departmental' to Yorkshire Grammar; it is a regular transformation scene. They drop as they would a hot potato their Greek and Latin derivations and forms, they scatter to the four winds their distinctions between strong verbs and weak verbs, between even singular and plural, and fall back with evident delight and relief to their traditional and homelier rules of speech. And small blame to them for it. What though they say, the moment their backs are turned upon the school, Ah is or Thoo tell'd or He hoded; is not this what their fathers and mothers have spoken hefore them? After all is said and done, Grammar is but, in some sort, a fashion; and the worst that can be said of Yorkshire Grammar is that it is old-fashioned: to ordinary ears no doubt it may sound barbarous or even ridiculous, but I can assure the most rigid English grammarian that if only he could live for a few years among a people who always prefer to say Ah 's to I am, the former would in time sound quite as much 'de rigueur' as the latter. It is not, after all, such a long step from Ah is to he is; and at least our use has the merit of uniformity; it is, moreover, quite as intelligible as what is generally deemed the correct form.

However, in spite of outside pressure and the great educational movement of late years, Yorkshire Grammar is not yet quite a thing of the past, and I daresay it may still be some little time before it is so. I have, therefore, given in this chapter, for the sake of those who may wish to know something of our rules of speech and to speak or write the dialect more correctly, a very brief outline of some of its more salient grammatical peculiarities. I can only hope that I shall not have 'my Lords~ of the Department down upon me for presuming to encourage or give countenance to a code of grammar antagonistic to their own, or for wishing their grammatical syllabus at a place not many miles from Jerusalem; for, as far as our dialect is concerned, I confess I do so wish it! In any case, however, I ven ture to think that the scholars themselves will not quarrel with me for desiring longer life to the old rules of Yorkshire folk-talk.


The Article.

The indefinite article has the same usage as in standard English.

The definite article should be invariably written ?, whether before a vowel or consonant, e. g. T' airm (the arm), t' koos (the house), t' bairn (the child).

It is sometimes asserted that the article is omitted before a consonant: this, I venture to think, is quite a mistake; it is not omitted in 'classical' Yorkshire, though frequently it is scarcely audible.

Sometimes (and this is especially the case in the Holderness district), the t' is softened down to d', thus, gan inti d' hoos (go into the house).

The only exception to the abbreviated form of the definite article is when used before Lord, as applied to the Deity.

This shortening of the definite article is quite a leading feature in the dialect, and makes words which would otherwise sound familiar become almost unintelligible to strangers: it scarcely needs any examples to illustrate this, for it can be seen at a glance that such a question of the tailor for instance as, Is t' wax i t' windiher? would hardly be understood by a 'foreigner' as the equivalent for 'Is the wax in the window?' Of course the article thus abbreviated is much more clearly heard before a vowel or w than before a consonant, and again more clearly before some consonants than others: thus, for example, it would be plainly audible before f, l, or s; not so plainly before b, m, or n; while before words beginning with d or t its presence would not be detected except by practised ears; still, under all circumstances, it is there, and in writing the dialect as spoken at the present day, it should never be omitted.


The plural number is formed in the ordinary way by adding s to the singular; but eye makes een, child becomes childer in the plural, and shoe is changed to shoon, though in this word the old form is not now so often used as formerly; while hoosen (houses) is now but rarely heard, though even quite recently I have had sensible proof of its lingering hold with old people in the north-east corner of the county. In the plural of certain words denoting space of time or quantity the final s is omitted, e. g. fo'tty year (forty years, fower-teen yakker (fourteen acres), fahve shillin' (five shillings).


The possessive case in s is not used; the simple nouns or pronouns in juxtaposition is all that is required to denote possession; thus, t' hoss heead (the horse's head), t' dog wags it taal (its tail), Bill book (Bill's book).

The same rule applies when more than one possessor is involved; thus, if we wished to express in correct dialectical form such a phrase as 'the dress belonging to the wife of Tom Harrison's son Peter,' we should say Tom Harrison Petther weyfe dhriss.


There is no deviation from the ordinary rules of gender, except that all implements, mechanical contrivances even of the simplest kind, and many tools, are of the feminine gender; thus, a watch, an oven, a scythe, a plane, &c., are all feminine, and are spoken of as 'she.'

In certain parts of the East Riding bordering on the coast, I am informed on good authority that the sea is spoken of in the feminine gender. I do not remember to have heard it myself, and so possibly this usage is only a local one.

The Adjective.

Many adjectives form their comparative and superlative by adding er and est or r and s/to the positive, which in standard English would be compared by prefixing more and most to the positive. Thus:-


Sometimes also an adjective which is compared irregularly will adopt the same form; as, Lahtle, lahtler, lahtlest.

The numeral adjective monny (many) is seldom used in the ordinary sense, a deal or a vast being the usual expressions. When, however, it is so used, the indefinite article is prefixed ; thus the equivalent for many of them is either a deal on 'em or a monny on 'em. Great is not used in conjunction with deal, the necessary intensive of it being supplied by varry, e.g. a varry deal is used for a great deal.

'In the same way the indefinite article is often placed before much without change of meaning, e.g., There 'll be a mich ti tell; this, however, is by no means so common as a deal or a vast.

In the termination th of the ordinal numerals the final h is always omitted in the dialect; or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the th is here pronounced as t. Thus 'fourth, fifth, sixth,' &c., are pronounced fowert, fift, sixt, &c.

Frequently the adjective is used as an adverb e.g. yan mud easy fall (one might easily fall); it gans varry whisht (it goes very quietly). It may be noted that the word bettermy, which is commonly used in the expression bettermy folks, is a curious example of a comparative formed by the addition of more (of which my is a corruption) to that which is already a comparative, thus forming a double comparative. It would be more correct perhaps to write the word bettermer, though the pronunciation is more in harmony with the other form.

The Pronoun.

The personal pronoun I is used as follows

Nom.Ah and I (short) (I).Wa (we).
Acc.Ma (me).Us (us).

The form of the nominative singular varies according to the sense and the position it occupies in a sentence, being generally ah, but sometimes short i. Thus we say Ah mun cum (I must come), whereas 'must I come?' would be expressed by mun ì cum? When any degree of emphasis is requisite, ah is always used; thus we should say munn ah cum or Dick? (must I come or Dick?)

Thou is an important word, and in familiar speech between equals it is invariably used rather than the you of modern English. It is thus declined

Nom.Thoo, Tha or Ta (thou).Ya (a-short)(you).
Acc.Thd (thee).Ya (a-short)(you).

In the nominative singular thoo is always used when it is the first word in the sentence, or elsewhere when special emphasis is required, as:- thoo knaws (you know), dust thoo think at thoo can skelp mah bairn (said in anger).

Ta is used after an auxiliary verb in ordinary familiar conversation; as, wilt ta cum wi ma? and in all questions in the second person ta is closely connected with the verb, so as to form part of it, as sa'nt-ta? (shall you not ?), harks-ta (listen), leeaks-ta (look).

Tha is also used instead of ta, but no rule can be laid down with regard to the interchange of these forms.

The nominative form thoo is used for the accusative when stress is intended to be laid upon that word; thus, he 's com for thoo and he 's com for tha would have a well understood distinction of meaning, the former implying that the person sought was one of many, the latter without regard to others. It is sometimes supposed that ta or tha (thou and thee) is not used except in the objective case, but as a matter of fact it is used both in the nominative and accusative cases: thus, we have the expressions wilt tha? (will you?) and he sent tha (he sent you).

He, she, and it are declined in the ordinary way. It, however, is generally abbreviated to 't, especially at the end of a word, as on 't (of it), wi 't (with it) til 't or tul 't (to it), &c.

It is to be noted that in certain parts of the North Riding the abbreviation 't for it is always made, e.g. he brak 't i two (he broke it in two); fettle 't up (put it into order). The usage is not so common in other districts.

The accusatives him, her, them are often used for the nominative, as e.g. him (her or them) at wants can gan (he who wishes can go).

The peculiar use of the pronouns he and sha to denote 'husband' and 'wife' should be noticed. Thus the husband or wife would say in speaking of the other, sha (or he) 's nut i 't hoos (she is not in the house), neither the name nor the relationship having been previously mentioned.

Possessive Pronouns.

The possessive pronouns mah (my), thah (thy), oor or wer (our) &c., do not deviate in their use from ordinary rules. There is, however, a use of oor in the sense of 'belonging to our family' which is to be noted, e.g. oor Bet (our daughter Bet).

The compound personal and possessive pronouns most commonly in use are as follows:- mysen and mysel (myself) ; thysen, thysel (thyself) ; hissen, hissel (himself); hersen, hersel (herself) ; itssen, itssel (itself); wersens, wersels (ourselves); yersen, yersel (yourself); yersens, yersels (yourselves); thersens, thersels (themselves). Of these forms, those ending in en and ens are commoner than those in el and els, though these latter are by no means infrequent, especially in the North Riding.

The personals thoo and tha, and the possessives thah or thi (thy) and thahn (thine), are always used in the folk-talk, you, your and yours being reserved for that of a supposed more refined style of speech.

As in other parts of the country, so in Yorkshire, me is often used for I; as, John an' me's gitten across (John and I are not on good terms).

Relative Pronouns.

The relative pronouns who and which are seldom used, at being substituted. At may be merely an abbreviation of 'that'; but with more probability it is the old Norse relative pronoun at unaltered.

When who is used relatively, which it is sometimes, the w is always sounded, so that who is pronounced sometimes as whau and sometimes as wheea; thus, Ah deean't knaw wheea (or whau) 's gitten 't (I don't know who has got it). Whenever used relatively, wheea and whau are employed indiscriminately.

Interrogative Pronouns.

The dialectical form of the interrogative who is either wheea or whan; as, wheea 's you? (who is that there?) whau telled ya? (who told you?)

Which is unchanged; as, which on 'em is 't? (which of them is it?)

'Whose' is pronounced wheeas. This word is seldom used by itself as an interrogative. For instance, it would be incorrect to say wheeas is 't skep? (whose is the basket?), a slight periphrasis would be adopted which requires explanation. The Yorkshire for whose is the basket? would he either wheea 's owes 't skep? or wheea belangs t' skep? The latter of these is the simpler, and is merely a curious attaching of the greater to the smaller, a rule which holds good in all cases. With regard to the former, this written in plain English is who is owns the skep? - a phrase which is unintelligible grammatically, unless we supply the missing link, which is as follows: who is (it that) owns the skep? And this is further simplified when we hear in mind that as is frequently substituted for who, e.g. we say them as likes (those who like.)

In parts of the North Riding the interrogative phrase above cited would take the form, wheea owes t' skep? This, though less common, is plainer, and merely represents, who owns the skep? The word owe (to own) was formerly in common use; examples of this may he found in Shakespeare, thus 'To parley with the sole inheritor of all perfections that a man may owe.' Love's Labour's Lost, Act II, Sc. i.

Demonstrative Pronouns.

The pronouns this, that, these, those, are used dialectically much in the manner of standard English, except that yon is generally substituted for 'that,' and them for 'those,' as yon man (that man), them yows (those ewes). Yon is seldom used with a plural noun; though, in order to give them a more demonstrative force, yonder is frequently added, as:- them bo'ds yonder (those birds there).

Indefinite Pronouns.

The indefinite pronouns commonly in use are the following:- All, beeath (both), few, mich, and mickle (much), monny (many), neean (none), onny (any), sich, sikan, and sike (such), uther (other), yan (one).

It may be noted that the old form mich is now much more frequently used than mickle (Old Norse mikill); indeed this latter is rapidly hecoming obsolete.

Care must be taken to distinguish yan from yah (one). Southerners, in endeavouring to learn the dialect, frequently make mistakes over these words. Yah is a numeral adjective, yan an indefinite pronoun. Thus we should say, yan on 'em seed nobbut yah coo i t' pastur (one of them saw only one cow in the pasture). It would be an unpardonable mistake to say yah on 'em, or yan coo. To avoid errors of this kind it should he home in mind that yah must always have another word agreeing with it, whereas yan may stand alone; thus, nobbut yan.

It should he ohserved that sike or sich is used before a consonant, and sikan before a vowel; as, sike deed (such doings), sikan a vast on 'em (so many of them). Sometimes, however, sike or sich is found before a vowel, as sike yal (such ale), and while they are used with words of both the singular and plural numhers, sikan is restricted to those of the singular. It often happens that in modern speech sich is followed by an, either as part of it or as a separate word, but in either case it is merely another form of sikan.

The Verb.

The grammatical peculiarities under this head are so numerous that it will not be possible to do more than point out some few of the principal of them. Let us begin with

The auxiliary verb TO BE.

Indicative Mood.
Present Tense.
Ah is (I am).We are.
Thoo is.You are.
He is.They are or is.

In the third person plural is is pretty frequently used instead of are, e.g. them 's good uns. T'folks is startin ti flit (the people are beginning to remove from their house).

The ordinary English 'I am' is never beard from one end of the district to the other with those who are speaking in the dialect.

Imperfect Tense.
Ah wur or was (I was).We wur or was.
Thoo wur or was.You wur or was.
He wur or was.They wur or was.

Future Tense.
Ah sal or will be
(I shall or will be)
We sal or will be.
Thou sal or will be.You sal or will be.
He sal or will be.They sal or will be.

There is an old form of the future still in use, but dying out, which should be noted, viz. Ah 's, Thoo 's, &c. (I shall, thou shalt, &c.). EXAMPLE:- Ah 's wesh ti morn (I shall wash to-morrow).

The distinction between am or is and be is pretty clearly defined, the latter being always preferred in the conditional mood. We should not say if ah is, but if ah be. Sometimes, however, be is used in the indicative mood, as, theer it be (there it is).

The imperfect wur might perhaps more correctly be written wer; it is sounded short, and the r is scarcely heard.

Present Tense.
Ti be (to be).Ti a'e been (to have been).


Present Tense.
Ah maay or ma (I may).We maay or ma.
Thoo maay or ma.You maay or ma.
He maay or ma.They maay or ma.

Imperfect Tense.
Ah mud (I might).We mud.
Thoo mudYou mud.
He mud.They mud.

Maay is more emphatic than ma generally, though often it is used when no emphasis is intended.

Ah mun (I must).We mun.
Thoo mun.You mun.
He mun.They mun.

We may note that the negative mun not is always contracted into maun't.


The usages of the auxiliary 'have' are peculiar, and require some care in treatment.

The simple form of the present tense is as follows:-

Ah a'e or ev (I have).We a'e or ev.
Thoo ez or es.You a'e or ev.
He ez.They a'e or ev.

As the form of the verb varies in affirmative, negative, and interrogative phrases, it will make it clearer if we illustrate this by a simple example; for this purpose let us give 'have taken' as a model.

Ah 'ye ta'en (I have taken).Ah a'e n't ta'en (I have not taken).Ev ah ta'en? (Have I taken ?).
Thoo 'z ta'en.Thoo ez n't ta'en.Es ta ta'en?
He 'z ta'en.He ez n't ta'en.Ez a ta'en?

We 'ye ta'en (We have taken).We a'e n't ta'en (I have not taken).A'e wa ta'en? (Have we taken?)
You 've ta'en.You a'e n't ta'en.A'e ya ta'en?
They 've ta'en.They a'e n't ta'en.A'e tha ta'en?

It should be observed that the 1st pers. plur. of the negative is sometimes we ev n't ta'en.

In the 3rd pers. sing., and in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person plural interrogative, I have preferred to write a, wa, ya, tha, instead of he, we, you, they, in these cases the pronouns being pronounced short.

Imperfect Tense.
Ah ed or ad (I had).We ed or ad.
Thoo ed, ad, edst, or adst.You ed or ad.
He ed or ad.They ed or ad.
Imperative Mood.
Ev (have) or a'e.
Infinitive Mood
Ti ae or ev (to have).

Evvin' (having).Ed or ad (had).

In the imperative, ev is used before a vowel, and a'e before a consonant; as, ev it riddy (have it ready); a'e nowt ti deea wiv 'em (have nothing to do with them). Ev, however, is sometimes used before a consonant instead of a'e, but there is no rule as to when it shall be so used.


The verb s'al (shall) requires no special remark, except that with a negative it becomes sahn't, and sometimes sal nut : thus, ah sal rahd (I shall ride), ah sahn't rahd, or ah sal nut rahd (I shall not ride).

The Conditional Mood.

The use of the conditional form of the verb 'to be' in any sentence has been already noticed. I may here repeat, however, that if I be is always preferred to 'if I am'; thus:- if ah be owt leyke (if I am fairly well). The conditional form of a verb is often introduced by nobbut; thus in the last example it would be equally correct to say nobbut ah he owt leyke.

In order further to illustrate the peculiarities of the verb, we will here add one or two tenses of the verb 'to do.'

Indicative Mood.

Present Tense.
Ah deea or diz (I do).We deea.
Thoo diz.You deea.
He diz.They deea.

Perfect Definite Tense.
Ah 's or ah 've deean (I have done).We a'e or 've deean.
Thoo 's deean.You a'e or 've deean.
He's deean.They a'e or 've deean.

It should be noted that in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd pers. plur. we 've, &c., are used affirmatively, and we a'e, &c., negatively and interrogatively, e.g., we 've deean; we a'e n't deean; a'e wa deean?

The first future, Ah s'al deea, or Ah 'll deea, and the second future, Ah s'al a'e deean, are declined regularly.

General Remarks.

As has been already observed, the adoption of is for 'am' admits of no exception; its use is often very deliberate and emphatic. EXAMPLE:- Ah is glad. Again, Q. Are you John Smith? A. Ah is.

The future tense is frequently used for the present. Thus: Q. Is William younger than Dick? A. Ah se think he will. Yon'll be John (that no doubt is John).

The other most common verbal divergences from standard English in the dialect are to be found in the formation of the perfect and of the participle, especially the latter.

The vowel-changes here, as compared with standard English, are numerous and irregular; it would be difficult to classify these deviations from ordinary usage; it will, therefore, be sufficient merely to add a list of some of the more ordinary ones.

By far the commonest change is the addition of en to the past participle; indeed, it may be said to be the rule for the past participle to take this form. Thus we have:-

Ah is (I am).We are. 
Thoo is.You are. 
He is.They are or is. 
A'e or Ev (have).Ed.Ed.
Beeat (beat).Bet.Bet or Betten.
Beeld (build).Belt.Belt.
Bid (bid).Bad.Bidden or Bodden.
Binnd (bind)Bun.Bun.
Bleead (bleed).Blid, bled, or blaad.Bledden.
Brek or Breke(break).Brak.Brokken.
Brust (burst).Brast.Brussen or Brossen.
Cheeas (choose).Choaze.Chozzen.
Creeap (creep).Crep or crop.Croppen.
Cum (come).Cam or com.Cum'd.
Cut (cut).Cut.Cutten.
Ding (throw down).Ding'd or dang.Ding'd..
Drabve (drive).Drave.Drovven
Fele (hide).Felt.Felten.
Feyght (fight).Fowt..Fowten.
Finnd (find).FanFun.
Flig (fly).Fligg'd.Fligg'd.
Fling (fling).Flang.Flung.
Flit (change one's abode).Flitted.Flitten.
Freeze (freeze).Fraze.Frozzen.
Gi'e (give).Gay.Gi'en (pr. geen).
Git (get).Gat.Gitten, getten, or gotten.
Grave (dig).Grave.Grovven.
Greeap (grope).Grape.Groppen.
Grund or Grahnd (grind).Grund.Grunded or Grun'.
Hear (hear).Heerd.Heerd.
Hing (hang).Hang or hung.Hung or Hing'd.
Ho'd (hold).Ho'ded.Ho'dden.
Ho't (hurt).Hot.Ho'tten.
Kep or kip (catch).Kept or kipt.Keppen, kippen,
Lig (lay).Lig'd or lihdkept or kipt. Lihn.
Lig (lie).Lig'd.Liggen or Lig'd.
Lit (let).Lit or let.Litten or letten.
Leet (light).Let.Letten.
Loss (lose).Lost.Lossen.
Mow (mow).Mew.Mow'd or mown.
Preeave (prove).Preeav'd.Provven.
Put (put).Put.Putten.
Rahd (ride).Rade.Ridden.
Rahse (rise).Rase.Risen.
Rahve (tear).Rave.Rovven.
Saw (saw).Sew (pr. sue).Saw'd or Sawn.
See (see).Seed.Seen.
Sell (sell).Sell'd.Sell'd.
Sew (sew).Siew.Sew'd or sewn.
Set or sit (set).Set.Setten.
Shak (shake).Shak't.Shak't or shakken.
Shoe (shoe, as e.g. of a horse).Shod.Shodden.
Shut (shut).Shut.Shutten.
Sit (sit).Sat.Sitten.
Smit (infect).Smitted.Smittedorsmitten.
Snaw (snow).Snew.Snaw'd or snawn.
Speak (speak).Spak.Spokken.
Splet (split).Splet.Spletten.
Spreed (spread).Sprade.Spridden.
Stan' (stand).Stood.Stooden.
Stick (stick).Stack.Stucken.
Strahd (stride).Strade.Strodden.
Strahve (strive).Strave.Strovven.
Strike (strike).Strake or strak.Strukken.
Sweer (swear).Sware or swar.Sworn.
Tak (take).Teeak or teuk.Ta'en.
Tell (tell).Telled.Telled.
Thrahve (thrive).Thrave.Throvven.
Thrust (thrust).Thrast.Thrussen.
Treead (tread).Trade.Trodden.
Win (win).Wan.Won.
Worrk (work).Wrowt.Wrowt.
Wreyte (write).Wrate.Written.

The verb is frequently placed at the end of a sentence when ordinarily it would occupy another position. No rule can he given on this point; it will best be illustrated by a few examples: thus the common Yorkshire equivalent for 'it has turned very cold is 'it's cau'd tonn'd'. Or again, 'Harry had to go to York', would very generally be thus expressed: Harry had ti York ti gan. Frequently we find the verb reiterated at the end of a sentence, e.g. it's a useful thing is a taatie; or again, Sha wer nobbut an oot o' t' waay body was n't Mary.

The Adverb.

The adverbial peculiarities are numerous, some of which will he noticed here.

The following are some of the adverbs most commonly in use, with their equivalents:-


Afoor (before, allus or awlus (always); for awbis is equivalent to 'continually'; eftther (after), i'-noo (soon), mostlins (generally); sometimes 'in general' is used, but 'generally' is not heard in the dialect; nivver (never), sen (since), ti-morn (to-morrow), yesterneet (last night). We may observe that yance ower is the equivalent for 'once,' 'on one occasion,' 'at one time' thus -Ah thowt ah wer boun ti be badly yance ower (I thought I was going to be ill at one time). Tahm by chance is used for 'occasionally.'


Aback (behind), aboon (above), ahint (behind), atwixt (between) onywheers (anywhere), sumwheers (somewhere).


A blins (possibly), aye (yes, indeed), eneeaf (enough), fair (quite). EXAMPLE:- Ah 's fair bet, i.e. I am quite beaten, ginner, as lief, liefer (rather, sooner), happen (perhaps), mebbe (perhaps), mich (much; 'too' is never used before 'much,' but always ower), naw, neea, nooa, naav (no), nobbut (only), part (many, much, a large quantity of anything), partlins (partly), reetlins (rightly), seemlins (seemingly), varry (very). Strange is also commonly used for 'very,' as stthrange queer deed. Despert again, is used in the same way. Sairly has a like meaning, for which the corresponding adjective with and is sometimes substituted ; thus we may say, he wer sairly vexed; or, he wer sair an' vexed. Weel (well), what for? (why ?), whya (well - in assent).

The ordinary adverbial termination ly is not so common in the dialect as in ordinary English, lins sometimes taking its place, and sometimes the adjective is used instead of the adverb. That, whahl take the place of so, that; thus - Ah 's that badly whahl ah can deea nowt (I am so poorly that I can do nothing).

Better is often used for 'more,' e.g. he 's been oot o' work better 'an a fo'tnith (he has been out of work more than a fortnight).

The adverbs of affirmation and negation require notice. Yes is not used in familiar speech, but when employed otherwise it is pronounced yis; the wellnigh universal equivalent is aye.

The adverb of negation has four forms, all of which are in more or less common use, viz. naw, neea, nooa, and naay. That in most general use is naw; naay is seldom used except when accompanied by a phrase following in close connection, e.g. naay, noo, thoo maunt git that inti yer heead; in such connections it is very common.

The Conjunction.

The conjunctions most commonly in use are the following:- an' (and), the d being never sounded; 'an (than), an' all (also, as well) this last is a word of very general use; it is also used as an adverb in the sense of 'indeed,' e.g. ah did an' all, i.e. 'I did indeed'; in the same sense that is used, e.g. ah did that; at (that), bud owivver (still, nevertheless), if in case, if so be (common redundancies for 'if'), nowther (neither), seea (so), sen (since). Withoot, wi'oot, widoot, bedoot (unless), whahl (until).

NOTE. As is used instead of 'rather than'; thus, ah thowt he 'd betther cum yam as staay wheer he was (I thought he had better come home rather than stay where he was).

For to is commonly used for 'in order to,' thus: ah 's here for ti deea t' job (I am here in order to do the job).

The Preposition.

Some of the prepositions most commonly in use in the dialect are given below, together with a few illustrative examples.

  • Aboon (above. EXAMPLE:- It leeaks bad aboon heead (it looks bad above head).
  • Afoor (before). EXAMPLE:- Afoor lang (before long).
  • Again (against).
  • Ahint (behind).
  • Amang, sometimes abbreviated to mang (among).
  • Fra, frev (from): fra is used before a consonant or y; frev, before a vowel. EXAMPLE :-Ah cums fra York; ah cums frev 'Ull (I come from York - Hull).
  • Inti, intiv, intil, intul (into). Intil and intul are more prevalent in the North than in the East Riding. Intiv is only used before a vowel. EXAMPLE :- He cam intiv oor toon (he came into our village); ah didn't put nowt intul 't (I did not put anything into it).
  • Nearhand (near). The preposition near is never used without the suffix hand. Nearhand is also used in the sense of 'nearly,' e.g. nearhand fahve pund (nearly five pounds).
  • Ower (over).
  • Ower-anenst (over against).
  • Wi, wiv (with). Wiv is only used before a vowel; wi before a consonant and occasionally before a vowel also. EXAMPLE:- Wi sum on 'em (with some of them); Ah wrowt wiv 'im, or Ah wrowt wi 'im (I worked with him).
  • With is always used instead of by in the sense of by means of ; thus, Ah 'II send it wit' carrier, by the carrier; also for by simply, as, he lives wiv hissen, i.e. by himself.
  • At is used for on when it signifies point of time, e.g. ah seed him at Settherda (I saw him on Saturday). The curious use of this preposition must not be mistaken for an abbreviated form of on 't, from which it is wholly distinct. In the southern part of the North Riding this usage of at is exceedingly common.
  • Of instead of 'for' is found in the expressions of a long while, of a good bit, &c., meaning 'for a long time.'

The Interjection.

The noteworthy interjections are the following:-

  • Aa! (oh), expressive of admiration.
  • Aw! (oh).
  • Ger awaa! or ger awaa wi ya! (pooh !), literally 'get away with you!' said especially to throw disbelief or doubt on an assertion.
  • Noo! (well !), the common form of salutation made by two friends on meeting.
  • Si/ha, lo' tha, lo' ya, leeaks ta! (lo look!)
  • Well-owivver! (indeed !), an expression of surprise.
  • Whisht, whisht wiya! (hush !).

For other grammatical usages and examples of rules already given, I must refer the reader to the specimens of the dialect to be found in the body of the work as well as to those in the Glossary.


Transcribed by Colin and Pauline Hinson © 1997