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Psst, learners... don't actually use "tu" for "you" or "tera" for "your(s)".

It's pretty rude to use "tu" with anyone who isn't either an SO, a good friend (and even then tum is more common) or a family member.

If you are speaking Hindi to someone on the road or a coworker DO NOT USE "TU". In other Indo-European languages "tu" can be used in cases way more formal than it can be in Hindi.

You should ideally use "tum" or "aap", "aap" being more formal than "tum" and "tum" being more formal than "tu."

I really don't know why Duolingo teaches this word to start off with... they should have used "tum" at least, ideally "aap."

The possessive of "tum" is "tumara" and the possessive of "aap" is "aap ka" for the record.

July 20, 2018



That's true! :) This has been mention here in the tips and notes section of Basics 2. We thought learning तू would be easier for beginners considering its similar verb endings with यह/वह.


Not everyone reads the notes. Some mobile app users may not even be able to access them at all.

It may be a better choice to give people harder forms and avoid cultural misunderstandings.


Thank you for your contribution. We as foreigners really need the clear distinction and maybe being too familiar with only the informal way will bring more problems later. At least if it was possible to write inf at the end and also consider the more formal versions that would help a lot before we create a not always accurate mental map of the structure of the sentence that is going to be very difficult to break later


Irrelevant to the conversation, I know, but perhaps of some comparative interest: Punjabi (which is very close to Hindi) doesn't have aap (or an equivalent). (Technically, you can say aap, but it's kind of a funky borrowing you're doing when you do...). So, the equivalent of tum is actually considered the more respectful form, and that leaves the equivalent of tu as the informal. The whole system shifts ... so that saying the equivalent of tu is not so bad. Perhaps it's because Punjabi culture is (arguably) more relaxed overall than the Hindi "high" culture and/or the Punjabi people have more of a rural/countryside ethos/identity. Or perhaps in Hindi the invention of aap shifted the system in the other direction.


That's interesting to know


Thank you for this much-needed advice. I found this tip missing in the course. This should save people a lot of embarrassment altogether! :D


I am an Indian and most of the time I use 'tu' with my friends and 'Aap' for people older than me and people I don't know.


I noticed this too and this is a troubling deficiency in the course. I don't know what made them choose the most casual form. It seems like it would be much more culturally appropriate for them to teach the other forms first and then only teach the most casual form later or in a few limited contexts.

This is setting people up for some bad cultural misunderstandings.

I would strongly prefer if this could be addressed ASAP.


I remember being told 'tu' was only suitable for lovers or mortal enemies and tourists won't need to use it. That said, I think it was only after three visits to India that I acquired both. ;)


Absolutely agreed. Hindi is my mother tongue, and my mother is a Hindi teacher. It's been years since I used 'tu' - and I have daily conversations with friends, family, housemaid and shopkeepers in Hindi. I use 'tum' for friends and younger siblings, and 'aap' for everyone else.

Learners/tourists, you can never go wrong with 'aap'. Your friends won't mind if you call them 'aap' - they'd be pleased and perhaps ask you to not be so polite. But if you call someone 'tu' when they expect 'aap', they'd certainly be shocked momentarily and won't forget it soon!

Dear Developers, I was also quite taken aback at how frequently I had to use 'tu' in new Duo course - I totally suggest reconsidering it in the future versions. It seems to me that a non-native is better off avoiding such tricky vocabulary so early in their coursework. Or perhaps the default 2nd person pronoun in the notes section of Basics 2 could be 'tum' or 'aap', or all three?


All this being said, you CAN safely (and idiomatically) use "tu" when addressing God. :)


Definitely use 'tum' or 'aap' for people you don't know very well but I'd say 'tu' works with mates :)


I just prefer “aap” it’s the most respectful and first version I learned.


Thanks for the tip! So it is like tú and usted in Spanish? (At least in Castilian Spanish, Usted is the formal form, Tú is the form you use with friends, SOs and family members)


Yes, but just think of there being three levels of formality. "Usted" is maybe equivalent to "aap" and "tu" is equivalent to "tum." Just imagine there being something lower than that, that would be the Hindi "tu."


Thanks for the info! Now I definitely think I understand it better. :)


The Hindi tuu is far more intimate than the Spanish tú. I can’t think of many instances in which a Hindi learner would ever want to use it. Too risky. Maybe if they took up singing qawwalis....!


Definitely good to know! Better if I don’t then, I’ve always been an awful singer XP

(Thanks for the tip btw)


Yeah, it's like tu and usted in Spanish, only Spanish tu = Hindi tum :)


This must be changed before official release; aap -> then tum -> then maybe tu is the right order to teach. And the same with "hain" vs. "hai". Even in 3rd person, there is no reason to start with the familiar form.


The letter learning process is thorisi weird


Thank you, that is a very enlightening comment because we do not want to be offending anyone just by ignorance. At least at the end of the sentence they should write inf for informal and give also the formal accepted versions. Or clarify from the beginning of each unit.


Very True!!!

You spotted that one right.


Really? I thought Duolingo did use "tum"...but I'm new, so I may be totally wrong :)

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