1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. 'Absolute emergency.'


'Absolute emergency.'

When do you use 'usted' and when do you use 'tu' (with the accent, am on my laptop)

June 14, 2018



"Usted" is formal and "tú" informal. As I understand it, exact usage varies from country to country, but, in general, you would use "tu" with close friends, people your own age, children, etc., and "usted" with strangers who are older, your boss, people who are interviewing you for a job, etc.


Tú is informal, usted is formal. If your native language is English, more or less like "Anne" vs "Ms. Jones".


Just wondering...... are you having trouble with the verbs? Because I did too, when just starting Spanish.

Whenever you use tú, you use the verb that ends with an s (for example, comes: you eat, corres: you run, caminas: you walk). Those are the informal you verbs. The formal you (usted) verbs ends with an e or an a (usually). Some usted example verbs: come, you eat, corre, you eat, camina: you walk.

I hope that helped. :)


Rule of thumb: Any time you would say "Sir" or "Ma'am" use usted. To your teacher, employer, the person you're selling insurance to, the person you need to help you find something in a big store...

Use tú with your pals, your family, and little kids.



Usted is formal (police, teachers, doctors, older strangers, basically, 'usted' is a formal you when trying to demonstrate deference.)

Tú is informal. Friends, family, young children.

I'll say that in a lot of places outside Spain I've found usted isn't really used that much anymore. Most of the time I'll say the first two or three things in usted and at some point someone tells me not to use it because it makes them sound old. But to be polite I would still recommend using it till someone asks you to use tú. :)


Usted is used when you are saying you all and tu is used when you are talking about one person.


"Usted" is the formal singular form, "tú" is the informal singular, and "ustedes" is plural.

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.