¡Bienvenidos a la clase!
One of the first differences between English and Spanish students have to wrap their minds around is that in Spanish there are different words for ‘you’. Which form of the word is used depends on whom the speaker is addressing.
In general, we speak to older people, our teachers, people in authority, etc. in a more formal, respectful manner. With our family and friends, we usually use a more informal, casual way of speaking. The same is true in Spanish; and the use of the word “you” follows in this context.
|The (informal) form of you||tú|
|The (formal) form of you||usted ( often abbreviated to ud.)|
As a general rule, you would use usted (ud.) when addressing strangers, your teachers, people in authority, or a person you usually address by his or her last name.
Alternately, tú is used with family, very good friends, people you usually address by their first name, children, pets and the Diety.
However, the practice varies widely depending on the country. In some countries, children address their parents using the usted form. There are also places where even friends refer to one another using usted. So when in doubt, it is always best to use the usted form until invited to use the tú form. Some etiquette experts go so far as to suggest you continue to use the usted until invited a second time to use tú!
Let’s Practice: Using the rules explained above, choose which form is best when addressing…
Your best friend: Tú
- Your boyfriend/ girlfriend
- Your Spanish teacher
- Your best friend’s mother
- Your pet fish
- Mrs. Garcia, your next-door neighbour
- Your brother/ sister
- Your teacher’s three-year-old daughter
~~~1 tú, 2 ud., 3 ud., 4 tú, 5 ud., 6 tú, 7 tú~~~
Tutear = to address using the familiar tú form
tutéame por favor or me puedes tutear: You may use tú.
Hope that helped clarify how to say “you” in Spanish.
Next lesson: Vosotros and Ustedes
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