https://www.duolingo.com/HelpfulDuo

Tú, usted or vos? A guide for which to use and why

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Singular you can be translated in three different ways in Spanish: , usted or vos. The choice of which to use depends on the formality and familiarity of your relationship with the other person. It also depends on which part of the world you are in.

pronoun use example
Informal
when addressing a friend, relative, child, or pet
Sandra, tú eres una gran cocinera.
Sandra, you are a great cook.
usted Formal
when addressing an older person, a stranger or a superior
Sandra, usted es una gran cocinera.
Sandra, you are a great cook.
vos Informal
when addressing a friend, relative, child, or pet
Sandra, vos sos una gran cocinera.
Sandra, you are a great cook.

Vos is a form used mainly in Latin America: Paraguay, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, etc. In Argentina and Uruguay, vos has replaced completely.

Remember that your choice of , vos, or usted will make a difference in the verb form (conjugation) you use. Compare the three conjugations of the verbs vivir, comer, amar and ser below.

To conjugate a regular verb with vos in the present, you simply drop the -r from the infinitive verb, replace it with an -s, and add an accent on the last syllable.

verb vos usted
vivir vives vivís vive
comer comes comés come
amar amas amás ama
ser eres sos es

Vos should not be confused with vosotros/vosotras. First, vos is a singular form of you, while vosotros/vosotras is a plural you. Second, as mentioned, vos is mainly used in Latin America and almost nonexistent in Spain, whereas vosotros/vosotras is only used in Spain.

Spanish English
singular Vos caminás en el parque sola.
plural Vosotros/Vosotras camináis juntas.

Which have you heard more often: tú or vos? When do you use usted?

1 year ago

49 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/SaraGalesa
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I met a lady from the north coast of Colombia and asked her ¿podemos tutearnos? (Can we use tú?) and she said that usted had practically disappeared from her region.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewMalmsteen

SI, that's true, in Colombia we don't use "Usted" that much, mainly "Tú" and for example i live in Medellin, we use "Vos" a lot :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ignatznkrazy
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That's really interesting. One of my profs, who was from Colombia, mentioned she hated being called by younger people she didn't know. But she was a much older woman. Is this a result of the generational gap?


Qué interesante. Una de mis catedráticas, quien fue de Colombia, me mencionó que odió cuando un joven la tuteó, pero fue una vieja. ¿Es posible que esto resulte de una brecha generacional?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewMalmsteen

Yes, there are a lot of people who don't like being tuteada and mostly old people, or when you don't know so much a person is better you don't use "tú" but we are super friendly and surely quickly will use "tú, ti" with the people we just know. the good part for foreing people who come here and talk in Spanish is that for us it's nice to help them and we don't care so much about those little mistakes.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nomasqwer

In Chile we use Vos when we are talking to friends or people that we don't respect, it's a very informal way of talking that almost every Chilean use at least in the central zone. And as always, we don't pronounce the "S" so it sounds like Voh

PS: We have our own rules for Voseo which are a little bit different than the Argentinian ones, for example they say "Vos como te llamás" but we say "Vos como te llamais" (remember we don't pronounce the "S") Unfortunately it's not considered formal in my country, what a shame, damn you Andres Bello... damn you!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ythrit
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I think you forgot to explain that the "voseo" (the use of vos) in Spain is used mainly in literature, cause it has only a reverential use. In this case the verb is conjugated like the second person of plural. For example: «Han luchado, añadió dirigiéndose a Tarradellas, [...] por mantenerse fieles a las instituciones que vos representáis»

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/skyflakes95
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I always address people I'm just meeting with usted and I generally stick with that if they're significantly older than me or they're of a higher position.

I've never heard vos in person, only ever in telenovelas and movies (particularly Chilean movies, but mostly just the conjugated form and not the actual pronoun). Then again, I live in the US and the Latin-American communities I interact with are very mixed so the conventions of individual countries of origin melt together.

A friend of mine who studied Spanish in Mexico said that the convention there was to use usted for anybody older or in a higher position and tú for everyone else so she got used to this. Then she spoke to her Venezuelan in-laws for the first time on the phone and they were a little off-put by her formality.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Consuelo690379

Wow, I didn't realise it was that complicated! It's interesting.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cleeent
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This is a tricky subject. I generally always start out with usted except with young children.

¿Te puedo tutear? is one way to ask if using the form is okay.

I have heard married couples use usted with each other, both married friends and couples on telenovelas. I've also heard them call each other mijo and mija, which seems odd.

Amazon.com uses with me.

I read that in some parts of Latin America males using with each other implies homosexuality.

So it's important to know the context and culture.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux
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I've heard mijo with restaurant workers and wondered if that meant it was his actual son but concluded that it was just a casual endearment. I may be wrong.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ignatznkrazy
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Nah. I get called mi hija by older men all the time. I am nearly 40, (though perhaps I don't look it), but the men are never that much older.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vicki.kura

Spanishdict.com shows mijo as meaning "millet" or "dear". It says nothing about it being offspring.

Google translate on the other hand... mijo=son, mija=pee

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux
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Mijo and mija are slang abbreviations for my son or daughter.

Mi hijo = mijo

Mi hija = mija

However, I've frequently heard it used as casual endearment like "dear" as you mentioned. This is from one of the links below: ‘Mija‘ or ‘mijo‘ can also be used with anyone, even an adult, and means something similar to the English slang terms ‘honey‘ or ‘sweetie’.

http://seriouslyspain.com/what-does-mija-mean-in-spanish-what-does-mijo-mean

https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/que-haces-mijo.126765/

As for the other translation of mija, you probably know that Google translate isn't always reliable.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Countess_Capital

When using Google translate you should always avoid contractions and contracted verbs and nouns...you have to spell everything out correctly because mijo and mija are actual words in Spanish while the mijo/mija we are discussing are actual contractions of Mi hijo and Mi hija.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jan697287

my husband is a native Spanish speaker and calls his son mijo and his daughter mija. I have never heard him use it with people outside our family. His father was from the Guadalajara area.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Countess_Capital

That's a funny one; I've lived in Mexico and spent most of my adult life in New Mexico;I am graduate student/alumn (M.Sc./Ph.D.) of New Mexico State University; I am fluent in Spanish (as well as other languages) and I've taught Spanish; Many "viejitos" and others use Mijo/Mija as a term of endearment--i.e., "my child" or "my son/daughter" but in Mexico it is only really used to refer to a person's actual child or a very close member (child) of the person's family; In Mexico most people use the term "cuño," "cuñado" or "ahijado" when referring to someone who is not related to them by blood or marriage but who are endeared to the person for whatever reason. Also in Mexico, I noticed that even though "Usted" essentially implies something similar to "Sir" or "Ma'am" the standard is to address anyone that a person does not know intimately with "Usted;" I've spoken with many a Hispanophone and other speakers who become offended by people using "tú" with people that they are not intimately familiar with and/or do not have a very long historical relationship.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine_nl

It's even more tricky if you also speak German, French and Dutch. They all have their Usted and tú, but criteria for using one or the other are different in all of them. In Czech it's still different.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aracnoides1
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Just to point out a small detail:

"¿Te puedo tutear (a ti)?" that question addresses the person you are talking to informally.

"¿Lo puedo tutear (a usted)?" would address that person formally.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JayceMitchell
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Would it not be ‘‘¿Le puedo tutear (a usted)?’’? Or is this one of those cases ‘‘Loísmo’’?

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John-McQuirck

I'm a native spanish speaker, and say between men doesn't imply homosexuality anywhere in Latin America.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cleeent
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Lo siento, está equivocado.

Depende de la clase y la ubicación.

En algunos grupos sociales en Colombia:

Sip. Pero tengamos en cuenta lo siguiente:
Entre hombres: Siempre se ustedea. Tutear entre hombres es visto como algo muy cursi, algo de mujeres y homosexuales.
Entre mujeres: Las de clase social alta, casi siempre se tutean; las de clase social baja, casi siempre se ustedean.
Entre mujeres y hombres: También depende de la clase social.

https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/la-forma-equivalente-de-tutear-para-usted.943036/

También en algunos grupos en Guatemala:

Aprendí mi español en Guatemala, y allá estaba usando la forma vos con todos mis amigos y entre hombres, ya que la forma tú entre hombres significaba relaciónes homosexuales.

https://goo.gl/KCRkVZ

Observaciones sobre las clases sociales en Tolima, Colombia:

http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3222/322249834003.pdf

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/P-Code
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Neat! This looks like a very helpful guide. Just something I'd like to point out, though:

Vos is a form used mainly in Latin America: Paraguay, Guatemala, Chile, Perú, Bolivia, Panama, etc. In Argentina and Uruguay, vos has replaced tú completely.

This sounds a bit misleading, as really only Argentinians, Uruguayans, some Colombians, and Central Americans use vos. No one else uses it.

On an unrelated note, if Perù gets an accent mark, shouldn't Panamà get one, too? Or is it because the word Panama has a different stress in English? Not that this is really that important, haha.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ignatznkrazy
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Neither should get an accent in English. We are very strange about accents. A few words we borrowed from French retain them (like café), but I can't think of a single loanword from Spanish that keeps an accent. We do sometimes retain the Ñ in borrowed Spanish words, however.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_terms_with_diacritical_marks

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KittyCat422

I find it hard to remember when to use each one. I rarely use the vosotros form - only in class

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Robert768604
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"Vosotros", the 2nd Plural is used only in Spain and Guinea Ecuatorial. It was also used in Philippines before abolition ('80s) of Spanish as it was 3rd official language there. In Latin America "Ustedes" has always been used for 2nd Plural instead of "Vosotros". Therefore the conjugation of verbs is also different.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zevlag13
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Also, is important to note that "vos" is used almost exclusively in Uruguay and Argentina. In the rest of Latin America they use "tú".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Robert768604
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"Vos": exclusively in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica.
"Tu" and "Vos": in Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Guatemala. "Tu" only: the rest of Castellano/Spanish speaking countries.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/peramia

Forgive me for reviving this mostly dead post but I have a question. My first Spanish teacher was from Colombia and, to those interested, taught her more regional Spanish as well as the textbook standard. The way I learned it from her is that "usted" is for people you don't know, the elderly, bosses, etc. "vos" is for family, children, close friends, pets, etc. And "tu" is used solely for lovers, spouses, and flirting.

This is the way I've been doing it as I learn. Will this be understood/accepted by Spanish speakers from other areas? And how common is this in Colombia?

9 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zevlag13
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Using both "vos" and "tú" is extremely unusual among the Spanish speaking countries. Actually, it's the very first time I know about that. Usually, "tú" and "vos" have the same meaning: informal second person of singular, while "usted" is the formal second person of singular. The only difference between "tú" and "vos" are the countries where they are used: "vos" is used almost exclusively in Argentina and Uruguay, while "tú" is used in the rest of Spanish speaking countries. So use either "tú" or "vos", but try to avoid using both, since it could confuse most Spanish speakers. Unless you're going to live in Argentina or Uruguay, I recommend you to use only "tú".

9 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux
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In California, I've mostly heard tú, maybe because I normally only talk to people who already know me. In Mexico and Spain, I generally use usted unless the other person changes first. I used tú recently with someone I'd just met at a Duolingo event as I'd assumed that California was very informal. He looked surprised perhaps, so I wondered if perhaps that was a mistake.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John-McQuirck

Vos As I know, it's used only in Argentina and Uruguay. The rest of countries only uses and Usted.

I'm peruvian and in Peru we don't use "Vos".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anastasia999

Mis amigos son de Ecuador, Mexico, Peru y Venezuela y nunca usan "vos". En mis clases de español oí que esta forma existe pero en la vida real-nunca la usan!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John-McQuirck

Te apoyo, porque yo soy de perú, y jamás usamos "vos", solo "Tú" y "Usted"

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Julian_L.

Pues, como el autor de esta discusión ya dijo, el «vos» también se usa en América Central, no solamente en la Argentina y Uruguay. Según leí, en Costa Rica el «tú» denota pedantería.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Robert768604
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Apart from Argentina and Uruguay, "Vos" is used in Paraguay and Costa Rica. In Chile are used both: "Tu" and "Vos". However "Vos" is avoided in most places, as it is cosidered being used by undereducated individuals.

Soy de Nueva Zelanda pero mi abuelo es de Santiago de Chile. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/donJhonK

I live in Costa Rica and tú is NOT used. Vos sometimes but only between adults with a close relationship (family and close friends). Vos is not used with kids and dogs, it is ¨venga acᨠfrom morning to night calling kids and animals. Vos is used a lot in advertising media though.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PinkyGreen

My husband says they also use vos in Honduras

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PonzioAdry
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the real form of using it is with "Tu" at least that's the correct form on neutral spanish ..
although .. in my country we use "vos" as reference to 2nd singular person .. yeah ..spanish is tough. ..

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lizettetijdink

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine_nl

I have never heard vos, but then, I have never been to latin America, only in Spain.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NikolaTocic

Tú is from "you"(singular/informal), usted is for(plural/formal), vos can be(singular/formal or singular/informal) ;-)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Valeria166212

El "vos" es siempre informal, el "tú" y "usted" dependen del país. En Uruguay usamos ambos de modo formal, con algunas diferencias.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NikolaTocic

Thanks, my mistake

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/omar384057

this was very helpful because i spoke to my friends saying usted

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dontavious480242

I use "tu" very common and I never use "usted" (only because I believe that 'tu bebes' sounds better than 'usted bebe'). But now that I know, I will begin to say "usted" more often when speaking to strangers.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/phyllistitus

tu' is most commonly used in Florida

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Irsunaspeaks

GRACIAS POR ESTO!!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mara186484

Escucho esta la palabra "tu" mas. Uso la palabra "usted" para formal hablando o cuandono conozo la persona. In Flordia they use tu.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DanielHall511619

Probablemente porque la mayoría de hablantes en Florida son caribeños y vosear es completamente ausente en el Caribe excepto por un muy pequeña parte del sur de Cuba.

4 months ago
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