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Use of तु

I'm trying to refresh and expand my Hindi after studying a year in grad school awhile back. I was able to test out of the first section, so maybe it was covered, but I was thrown off by the fact that Duolingo is using तु for you in so many sentences. I was taught that तुम was the appropriate informal to use, and that one should default to आप. तु was reserved for insults, animals, or talking to God. Is that not correct?

January 24, 2020



Your understanding is correct. Apart from the use-cases you've mentioned, तू is also used for very close friends of around the same age as yourself and close family members of your age or younger. Use of तू to someone you've just met will definitely be seen as rude.
As a Hindi learner, it's better to default to आप and use तुम when you want to be informal, like you have been taught.

The reason Duolingo uses it so much in the first few lessons is that it's easier to learn because it has the same conjugations as third-person singulars. The etiquette rules are mentioned in the 'tips and notes' section but since it is not available on all platforms and not everyone reads those, another approach may be necessary.


Heavily governed by social norms - traditionally it is based on hierarchy - AAP for superiors / seniors / elders / out of respect. TUM for equals / friends. TU for inferiors / younger people / kids / lack of respect

In modern, less formal usage, the lines are blurred and overlap with formality as much as hierarchy - its common to use TU for close friends whom you don't consider inferior, but are just very informally comfortable with, and AAP in any new formal / business setting, where distance is maintained, regardless of relative standing / age.


Or talking to little children


Thanks you vinai I saw your comments after my post


It is not तु but तू. I would say to you do not default to आप with everyone just with the people who are older than you and maybe with some of your colleagues but you can use तुम without a second thought with anyone significantly younger than you and I advise you to not use तू with anyone. Just learn its conjugations but never use it, unless your are really comfortable with your Hindi.

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