Why do I need to use third person plural with ustedes?
I needed fill in the correct preterito indefenido to 'Were you doctors?'
Ustedes .... medicos
So I put fuisteis because that is you plural ending and I thought ustedes was you plural formal but it told me I had to put ustedes fueron.
I don't really understand why, thanks!
Here are the verb conjugations :
but the ustedes form that they are using is still refferring to you plural tense? They are just substituting the vos fuisteis for ustedes fueron?
In Spain, vosotros is the informal form and ustedes the formal one. Latin America only uses the formal one.
"Usted" is a short form for "Vuestra Merced" (Your Mercy), then it uses third person forms: "your Mercy is wise" = Vuestra Merced es sabia >>> Usted es sabio. The same for ustedes and its conjugations.
Usted and Ustedes are formal 'you' (singular and plural respectively), and they are conjugated like El/Ella and Ellos/Ellas.
You would use usted/ustedes if you are adressing someone that you have to show respect to (your boss, your teacher, a stranger etc). Using tu and vosotros implies a certain intimacy and you would typically use it with friends/family or someone who gave you permission to.
I think about it like using the Last name of someone to adress him Vs. his first name :D
"Ustedes" is no longer formal (since around 150 years ago), except in Central and Northern Spain. "Vosotros" is informal in the same area, in the Americas it is extremely formal, not used in common speech.
Thank you for the clarification! My teacher was from Central Spain so that's what he tought me. Also, I'm from a french background so he basically told us to think of Usted as the polite 'vous'
Spanish also had "vos" in the same form as French some centuries ago. But it evolved towards "vosotros" for plural and singular "vos" lost its politeness, it is used by equals or top to bottom in many countries (namely Argentina, Uruguay and Nicaragua, but it is used at some point in most countries outside Spain, Equatorial Guinea and the Caribbean Sea).