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s'il te plaît | s'il vous plaît question

So after looking up the difference between the two, I learned that te is informal and vous is formal.. So when speaking to say, a teacher, am I expected to say vous? If I say te, am I going to get slapped?

April 15, 2018



It depends if the teacher is friendly with his or her students and wants us to say "tu/te". So, if not, the answer is yes :P


So should I just talk to everyone formally until I'm super comfortable switching between formal/informal? I can't really think of a formal/informal example in English except maybe "Sir"/"Bro" or something like that..


I mean, if you're talking to strangers, I would talk to them in a "formal" tone... But some people may still say "s'il te plaît" instead of "s'il vous plaît", it's this in every language, I think...


French and English are very different, though. And even calling someone "Sir" would be considered strange and over-formal.

And it's not really very difficult to switch between S'il te plait and S'il vous plait. Te - informal, vous- formal, so in informal situations, te, in formal situations, vous. Don't overthink it.


The way I learned it 'vous' is more an indirect "you all" form of 'you' which makes it more polite. You would use this with strangers, someone in higher positions of power, or someone older than you.

'Tu' is a more direct and specific 'you' that you would use with friends and family. It's less polite and could be downright rude to someone you don't know or is in a position of power. All really depends on the person though, obviously not everyone you meet is going to react strongly.

We don't really have an equivalent in english aside from using sir/ma'am/Mr./Mrs. for formal. I guess if you wouldn't be willing to say "Sup bro?" to someone comfortably probably avoid 'Tu'? Haha It's not quite /that/ casual but it gets the point across.

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