https://www.duolingo.com/Bricxjo

Tu aimes, aimes-tu, vous aimez, aimez-vous...

Ok, so the course says aimes-tu is more formal than tu aimes. But if we are wanting to be formal, don't we use the vous form? Is there an explanation when you would say aimes-tu or vous aimez? Is aimez-vous super-duper formal if you are talking to one person? What would a native speaker use most often? One person said you would use aimes-tu in a case where you wouldn't use the vous form but you still want to be polite, as when you are talking with a child.

What do you think?

December 24, 2017

3 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Ok, so the course says aimes-tu is more formal than tu aimes.

aimes-tu is higher-level speech than the same question formed with tu aimes but both are equally formal/colloquial.

There are two factors here :

  1. the choice of construction of the question, more or less colloquial (=less or more high-level speech)
  2. the choice of singular you => depends who you're talking to

  1. Choice of question's construction (from the higher-level speech to the more colloquial):
    • Inversion verb-subject
      => Aimes-tu les fraises ?, Aime-t-il les fraises ?, Aimons-nous les fraises ?, Aimez-vous les fraises ?, Aiment-ils les fraises ?, ...
    • Use of the locution est-ce que which is nothing else than an indicator that the sentence is a question
      => Est-ce que tu aimes les fraises ?, Est-ce qu'il aime les fraises ?, Est-ce que nous aimons les fraises ?, Est-ce que vous aimez les fraises ?, Est-ce qu'ils aiment les fraises ?, ...
    • Nothing special in the sentence indicates it's a question, except for the final interrogation mark
      => Tu aimes les fraises ?, Il aime les fraises ?, Nous aimons les fraises ?, Nous aimez les fraises ?, Ils aiment les fraises ?, ...
  2. Choice of singular you
    • vous
      • if you talk to someone older than you (by, let say, 10+ years) that you don't know well
      • if you talk to someone representing authority hence you mark respect to the title/post/role that occupies the person(°): a professor, a president, a prime minister, a queen, a king, etc.
      • any similar case where you want to mark respect.
    • tu
      • in any case where you're not using vous.

So, you can have a high-level speech construction with a tu, like Aimes-tu les fraises ?, or a colloquial construction with a mark of respect on the choice of singular you, like Vous aimez les fraises ?. Nothing (technically) wrong.

(°) the respect isn't directed to the person per him/herself but to what (s)he represents, the post (s)he occupies.

But if we are wanting to be formal, don't we use the vous form?

Now, if you talk to someone to which you'll address with vous, you'll generally also try (but nothing mandatory) to speak with high-level speech hence you'll probably prefer Aimez-vous les fraises ?. But both are equally formal/respectful, they are just not using the same level of speech.

Is aimez-vous super-duper formal if you are talking to one person?

It's as respectful/formal as Est-ce que vous aimez [...] ? and Vous aimez [...] ? but more nicely (=higher-level speech) formulated.

What would a native speaker use most often?

Depends on the context.

One person said you would use aimes-tu in a case where you wouldn't use the vous form but you still want to be polite, as when you are talking with a child.

What do you think?

I'd say
you would use aimes-tu in a case where you wouldn't use the vous form but you still want to use nicely worded speech, as when you are talking with a child hence want to teach him/her the nicer way to speak.


P.S.: French native speaker.

December 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Lynn323053

In French we use, "vous" most for elderly people and strangers that are adults. And sometimes, a lot of times, people that know you, they will say I'm not that old! Say "tu" please. With children it's always "Tu" when speaking with them.

P.S. I'm also a French native speaker.

December 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/lanny.ripple

I am not a native French speaker (but I'm trying hard to get close :)

The level of formality of a sentence/speech is called its register. English lost the thee/you distinction but we shift register all the time as well.

  • Want a soda?
  • Would you like a soda?
  • May I get you a soda?

If you just go with your instincts you should be fine. If in doubt use "vous" (better safe than sorry) and this flowchart is helpful.

December 24, 2017
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