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https://www.duolingo.com/VaibhavSnehi

'ustedes' or 'Tú' what's right for 'you'?

Both Tú and Usted literally mean you, but there is a significative difference between them.

FORMAL VS INFORMAL

Usted is a more respectful way of talking to someone, such as a new acquaintance, an older person, or someone you consider to be of higher rank or anyone to whom you wish to show respect. Use Usted with authority figures and most strangers.

Tú is less formal than usted. It demonstrates a certain closeness and informality. Use tú in a casual conversation, with someone from your same age, or in a relaxed environment. To refer to children, family, close friends use of tú is recommended.

You should use usted to addres:

  • Strangers.
  • People whom you wish to show respect.
  • An older person who you want to show respect (for example your friend's grandfather)
  • An honorable figure or an authority.
  • A public audience (using ustedes)

You should use tú to addres:

  • Friends
  • Children
  • Classmates
  • Family
  • Pets
  • In general anyone who addresses to you using you.
4 years ago

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Fettes

In some places Usted is also used when referring to your family members

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Valestellarium

It mostly depends on how old the members of the family are and the period in which they were raised. But it is important to understand that there isn't a unique treatment between relatives. For example I always use "tú" when talking to my dad, but sometimes he says "usted" when talking to me! lol.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/primastrijati

is it only about formal and informal?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jmchuma
jmchuma
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Usually yes, but in some places like the Canary Islands in Spain, or in some countries in South America, usted/ustedes is used instead of tu/vosotros. But the rule of thumb is usted is formal and tu is informal.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oowowaee

Those countries would be Costa Rica and parts of Colombia. (and apparently parts of Ecuador and Panama, who knew!) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustedeo

I believe, however, that everywhere but Spain ustedes is used in place of vosotros.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/framareci
framareci
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I agree. As per the referred Wikipedia page: "En toda Hispanoamérica "ustedes" es el pronombre de segunda persona plural, mientras que en España peninsular esta forma se reserva solamente para el trato cortés y en el habla informal se emplea el pronombre "vosotros", excepto en Andalucía, donde "ustedes" es también informal."

In some cities in Andalucia, like Seville, it is common that people use "ustedes" with the tense corresponding to "vosotros". It is also mentioned in Wikipedia. However, this is not correct. "Ustedes" should have the same tense than "ellos".

By the way, I had a friend from Guatemala, and she used "Usted" with her daughter, who was less than one year old! It was very funny for me, because in Spain this is only used in a formal way, and nowadays it is used less and less.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oowowaee

The only Spanish speaking country I have been to is actually Costa Rica, so for me it doesn't seem weird at all to call children usted (which is what I did there :P). In fact it was very hard when I came back not to use usted when talking to people. Sometimes I'll still use it by mistake if I'm not thinking. I guess it really depends where you learned :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VaibhavSnehi

@primastrijati no it's not only about formal/informal but it is a general explanation ... more precisely , although Tú is very close to usted in meaning but has a different section in spanish like... usted bebe, or he/ she bebe but Tú bebes

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ranaamarilla
ranaamarilla
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Ustedes = plural Tú = singular , tú = usted I'm a native spanish speaker

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MattNeub

For the last bullet point, wouldn't my friends grandfather refer to me with Tú, whereas I would address him with Usted?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VaibhavSnehi

umm... yes he would if you know each other very well...but if you are strangers then it could be usted

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MattNeub

Ah okay. I thought that somebody older would use Tú when speaking to somebody younger in general, thanks for the clarification!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VaibhavSnehi

pleasure

4 years ago