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  5. Vous ou Tu ?




Really helpful chart for an ancient struggle.


My personal preference is to always use "vous" as long as the person I'm talking to is older than me and/or a stranger/someone I have met on few occasions, etc. From my own experience, it is quite normal for us french-speakers to use "vous" a lot. I understand how that can seem weird and unfamiliar to English-speakers, though. Remember this: it can differ a bit, i.e. if your talking to a salesperson, for instance, then that person would most likely refer to you as "vous", and you would say the same thing. Same goes with waiters, bartenders, and so on. Even some family members would naturally be your "vous". The "in betweens" are many, and it isn't always easy to tell.

Personally I go for the: "Vous" until proven otherwise.

The chart is great, just thought I'd share my two cents on this tricky issue.


Agreed: stick with vous"". Addressing someone you don't know by "tu" is rude. When it happens to me, I tend to think "On n'a pas elevé les cochons ensemble" ;-)

  • 2466

Thanks God I'm Italian and I don't need flowcharts :D However, in uncertain situations, the best strategy is to stick to "vous" and eventually ask if it's ok to switch to "tu". At least here in Italy, but I suppose it's the same in France. Does anyone know how to express such request?


Thanks for the chart... gave me a good chuckle. More or less the same logic can also be applied in German for Du and Sie. By the way, I ready somewhere that when making love, some ladies like to be spoken to with the vous form, Has anybody else heard about this?


I am french and i never heard such a thing Monkieie ahah :) Erkte is right, we use the "vous" everytime we have a doubt or just to underline our respect (to older people or teachers for example). When you are younger than the person you are talking to, you don't ask if you can use "tu" (=" le/la tutoyer") but he/she invites you to do it. In this case, he/she probably would say "tu peux me tutoyer si tu veux" or if you start to use "tu" and he/she is not ok, he/she would say "je préfère que vous me vouvoyiez". Btw, the chart explains the use really well, you can follow it :D hdcanis : we would better say (in the question form) "pouvons-nous nous tutoyer ?" or just "Est-ce qu'on peut se tutoyer ?" =)

  • 2466

Thanks. So you have even two verbs for it, tutoyer and vouvoyer! This is way more handy than our "Posso darti del tu?" (literally, "Can I give you some you?"). But isn't it rude to ask someone to revert back to "vous"?


It depends on the situation. If you get stopped for speeding and ask this question and the policeman says "non, vouvoyeiz s'il vous plait", then the misjudgement is yours for asking in the first place. So its always a bit of a social gamble wherein you need to appreciate the company and the situation you are in.


Runakom is totally right =) Sometimes it can be rude but sometimes it is not =) For example if you start "tutoyer" your mother-in-law and she asks you to stop (because she doesn't like you for instance :p), it may seem rude to you. If you use "tu" with the policeman in the example of Runakom, it's probably not =)


Looked at the dictionary that the verb is "tutoyer" (and the opposite is vouvoyer or voussoyer) so I guess if you are in the position to request this, maybe "nous pouvons tutoyer"...


I'v never heard of "voussoyer", i think this verb isn't used anymore (but not "vouvoyer").


I guess "voussoyer" is old french =) We only use "vouvoyer" and "tutoyer" in everyday life =)


Hm... The picture is cut off at the bottom :/


For most of my verbs I know both vous and tu versions pretty well, the only problem is I forget to change it according to the situation. Like, I'll be talking to my sister, and when I talk to my teacher I'll address her with tu. And I keep doing it. Over and over. It gets annoying.


Really funny chart ;-)


aha loved this chart!


Ótimo esquema!


Awesome. Thanks!


I had a good laugh. Thank you!


Thank you very much, The chart is helpful and easy to understand ^_^


Interesting. I never thought about how a person would address their god in prayer.


Very funny! My teacher always said, just use the vous form, and if you hear the other person use tu, feel free to switch. I like how this site uses both forms frequently, other sites seem to use strictly formal language which sucks when you meet real friends


Lol! Helpful and funny...


Thank you... :)


I'm struggling with this I still don't have the language sense of when to use "Vous" and "Tu" appropriately!

Like when you first meet a stranger it's supposed to be "Vous" right?

I address my French teacher as "Vous", but when we kinda meet each other regularly and become closer, is it appropriate to suddenly one day call him "Tu".

When I first meet someone I call him/her "Vous", after times when is it okay to change to "Tu"?


"In general, the switch from vous to tu is "negotiated" on a case-by-case basis; it can happen nearly unconsciously, or can be explicitly negotiated." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%E2%80%93V_distinction#French_2 ) "negotiated" means one offres : "On peut se tutoyer ?" and the other agree, then you change du "tu" ! :-)


Here in Québec "vous" is seen as peculiar in normal conversations. If one is in a very formal situation, then it makes some sense.


If you understand a bit of basic Chinese, you can understand it better. Like malillou said, 'Vous' is used when you adress somebody respecfully (elder people, your professer, etc, in Chinese we say '您'), but to my understanding it can be used under most circumstances even to strangers. 'Tu' is more casual, you can say 'tu' to your friends or somebody you are familiar with, meaning the same as Chinese word ‘你'.


Im still working on my tu and vous scenarios.. le sigh. But i distinctly recall going into a bakery once and the sales girl used "tu". We were both the same age, ( uni students) but i still felt that she was being rude, but wasn't certain enough to check her. lol


A good article on this subject : "Mastering the Unmasterable: A French Puzzle" Mary Blume, International Herald Tribune, 19 February 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/19/style/19iht-blume.t.html


Vous is plural or formal so the translations for 'you (plural) eat' should be 'vous mangez '


If I were asked in Duolingo how to write a response to the question about a person eating “Est-ce que….” which one would I choose vu/or vous. By the way, they don't offer an example.

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