You in Spanish (many forms and correct usage)

M

Marianopolita

Guest
In another thread there is a sub topic about the usage of the pronoun You. In Spanish, as you already know You varies depending on whether it is a subject pronoun, direct object pronoun, indirect object pronoun etc. and the forms vary according to whom you are addressing.

In my opinion, there are a lot of aspects about Spanish grammar that can be challenging. Pronoun usage is one of them. Spanish grammar rules apply across the board meaning in the Spanish-speaking world although some forms may be more common in one area over another.

If you speak another Latin based language like French you can leverage off that knowledge. It helps but Spanish is unique in its own right. You have the informal vs. the formal, then vosotros (pl. informal) used in Spain and then vos (voseo forms) which can be heard in certain countries and regions in Latin America.


So when in doubt which You do you use? - La pregunta del millón.


I created this thread as a space for posters to discuss the topic here (I don't want to merge it with the other thread).


You can share your thoughts, observations and comparisons.




-MP.
 
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A

Africaida

Guest
It is interesting topic to me, the formal vs informal....I feel like it is so ingrained in latin language that unless it is your first language (mine being French), it may be hard to grasp.

I see it with my US born children, although they speak French fluently, they still have that tendency to use "tu" often. After all, in their everyday conversation with family members, they don't really need to use a more formal way. When they end up talking with strangers or more distant persons when we are vising home, I cringe when I hear them use "tu" to address them, lol :cheeky:. It sounds so "maleducado" to my ears !!!!! Thankfully, they get a pass because people understand they are not native speakers and are quite impressed with their command of the language.

Oh, to answer your question, when in doubt, I use Usted in Spanish :) Although, I definitely have a tendency to switch faster to "tu" because it comes easier to me.
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
It is interesting topic to me, the formal vs informal....I feel like it is so ingrained in latin language that unless it is your first language (mine being French), it may be hard to grasp.

I see it with my US born children, although they speak French fluently, they still have that tendency to use "tu" often. After all, in their everyday conversation with family members, they don't really need to use a more formal way. When they end up talking with strangers or more distant persons when we are vising home, I cringe when I hear them use "tu" to address them, lol :cheeky:. It sounds so "maleducado" to my ears !!!!! Thankfully, they get a pass because people understand they are not native speakers and are quite impressed with their command of the language.

Oh, to answer your question, when in doubt, I use Usted in Spanish :) Although, I definitely have a tendency to switch faster to "tu" because it comes easier to me.

Querida, estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo. Lo que dijiste es verdad.



I think the usage of You in Spanish can be tricky. Not only the grammatical aspect but knowing when to tutear and tratar de usted like you said. You are from France so using Vous is ingrained like you said. In my opinion, the usage is very important in French but for people who learn French and even Spanish outside of a French-speaking country or Spanish-speaking country therein lies the problem and I think it is because of the influence of the English You which has no informal or formal distinction. You can address your teacher, a senior, an adult, a stranger etc as You all which would qualify as formal address in a Latin-based language.


In Spanish, it is not only knowing when to use the informal vs formal vs vos but is also the aspect that some countries are tuteo countries and usted is used in certain scenarios and there a few scenarios where Usted is predominant before the other forms. Colombia being a prime example.

I totally understand how your kids have the tendency to use the informal You in French and I think it will be hard for them to make that distinction. Maybe later on if they start reading in French and have more interaction with French speakers. Otherwise I think the informal You will continue to be more natural for them.

In Spanish, I am careful especially with the older crowd and people from certain countries. Although usted is formal in certain nuances it can create distance and you have to be careful if that is not your intention. In the Caribbean though meaning español antillano the informal is very prevalent.



-MP.
 
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E

El Rey de Mangu

Guest
My default is Usted. I have trained myself to use it over the years because when folks whom I don't know come at me with "tu", it sounds very ignorant. My kids are big "tu" offenders and I work hard against that. If i'm in court and the magistrate or an attorney whips out a "tu", then I switch. I gave them the opportunity and they went low. Lol
 
G

GuillermoRamon

Guest
En La R.D. I rarely hear Usted, could be geographically where I stay (Sosua/Cabarete) and the people within that fold, and I am 100% not saying that as a slight against them. That being said, for me, its the "when in Rome" thing, so I use tú, as thats what I commonly hear. On a side note, interestingly enough, if I go to Google Translate, (not that it is the gospel, not by any stretch), but, should I simply type in you on the English side and waiting my Spanish return, it yields tú.
 
M

Matilda

Guest
i always use usted unless I know the person very well, and my grandchildren and even daughter in law and my step children use usted to me. I even used usted when talking to guy who came in with a gun for money and then tried to kill me!

Matilda
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
My default is Usted. I have trained myself to use it over the years because when folks whom I don't know come at me with "tu", it sounds very ignorant. My kids are big "tu" offenders and I work hard against that. If i'm in court and the magistrate or an attorney whips out a "tu", then I switch. I gave them the opportunity and they went low. Lol

You use usted in all conversations? In the DR?



-MP.
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
En La R.D. I rarely hear Usted, could be geographically where I stay (Sosua/Cabarete) and the people within that fold, and I am 100% not saying that as a slight against them. That being said, for me, its the "when in Rome" thing, so I use tú, as thats what I commonly hear. On a side note, interestingly enough, if I go to Google Translate, (not that it is the gospel, not by any stretch), but, should I simply type in you on the English side and waiting my Spanish return, it yields tú.

Yes, following the forms of address of the locals is a good starting point and it will work in many scenarios. However, if you run into someone who is particular about how they should be addressed that is when you may get an unexpected response or behaviour. It depends on the person and the country. Foreigners also get a break because they are not expecting fluency but rather the attempt to communicate.


I went to Google translate and typed You and it gave the Spanish equivalent as . However, if you type You are it gives the equivalent as Usted es. I don’t know what conclusion to draw from this though.


-MP.
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
i always use usted unless I know the person very well, and my grandchildren and even daughter in law and my step children use usted to me. I even used usted when talking to guy who came in with a gun for money and then tried to kill me!

Matilda

Sounds like your in laws, grandchildren etc are using Usted because of your age and that is what they are taught as a way to show respect.


-MP.
 
A

Africaida

Guest
Querida, estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo. Lo que dijiste es verdad.



I think the usage of You in Spanish can be tricky. Not only the grammatical aspect but knowing when to tutear and tratar de usted like you said. You are from France so using Vous is ingrained like you said. In my opinion, the usage is very important in French but for people who learn French and even Spanish outside of a French-speaking country or Spanish-speaking country therein lies the problem and I think it is because of the influence of the English You which has no informal or formal distinction. You can address your teacher, a senior, an adult, a stranger etc as You all which would qualify as formal address in a Latin-based language.


In Spanish, it is not only knowing when to use the informal vs formal vs vos but is also the aspect that some countries are tuteo countries and usted is used in certain scenarios and there a few scenarios where Usted is predominant before the other forms. Colombia being a prime example.

I totally understand how your kids have the tendency to use the informal You in French and I think it will be hard for them to make that distinction. Maybe later on if they start reading in French and have more interaction with French speakers. Otherwise I think the informal You will continue to be more natural for them.

In Spanish, I am careful especially with the older crowd and people from certain countries. Although usted is formal in certain nuances it can create distance and you have to be careful if that is not your intention. In the Caribbean though meaning español antillano the informal is very prevalent.



-MP.
I did teach them and they do know the difference now and they use it. It will never come naturally to them though.

I also think it is cultural. The american culture is very casual and friendly culture nowadays. For example, my kids call their teacher by their first name. I come from a place where our teacher called us by our last name and we called them by theirs. The class use to stand up if the principal entered our classroom ! When I first moved to the US to go to college, I couldn't believe our university teacher gave us their phone number :cheeky: Besides children, the other day I was in court to file some paperwork, I saw people wearing short, jeans, etc...It wouldn't even cross my mind to enter an official building dressed so casually, lol (I was wearing a suit). And, I am by no means, traditional.
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
I did teach them and they do know the difference now and they use it. It will never come naturally to them though.

I also think it is cultural. The american culture is very casual and friendly culture nowadays. For example, my kids call their teacher by their first name. I come from a place where our teacher called us by our last name and we called them by theirs. The class use to stand up if the principal entered our classroom ! When I first moved to the US to go to college, I couldn't believe our university teacher gave us their phone number :cheeky: Besides children, the other day I was in court to file some paperwork, I saw people wearing short, jeans, etc...It wouldn't even cross my mind to enter an official building dressed so casually, lol (I was wearing a suit). And, I am by no means, traditional.

I totally agree with you on all points. Yes, I understood that your kids probably knew the difference but the usage is not natural as you said. However, I still think if they were to go to France for a while they will would get into vouvoyer because it is cultural more than anything else.


One aspect I am particular about is speaking English to an elderly person that I know is Spanish speaking which is something I do not do. For example, in my many trips to Miami if I am in a store owned by visibly older people and they are Spanish speaking there is no way I will speak English to them. I always start off in Spanish by default and if they chose to speak to me in English then I might switch but that has not happened yet. I don’t know if you can relate to what I am saying or not but to me that is cultural as well. It is a sign of respect and especially if I know they do not have a strong command of English.


-MP.
 
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A

Africaida

Guest
One aspect I am particular about is speaking English to an elderly person that I know is Spanish speaking which is something I do not do. For example, in my many trips to Miami if I am in a store owned by visibly older people and they are Spanish speaking there is no way I will speak English to them. I always start off in Spanish by default and if they chose to speak me in English then I might switch but that has not happened yet. I don’t know if you can relate to what I am saying or not but to me that is cultural as well. It is a sign of respect and especially if I know they do not have a strong command of English.


-MP.
Interesting MP. That is not something I would do because being a non-native, I am very careful about addressing people in Spanish. Unless they barely speak English, I don't. I have seen looks where people take offense thinking you are kinda of "judging" them i.e. think their English sucks. But, often with times, people realize I speak enough to have a regular conversation and/or truly enjoy speaking the language and they would switch to Spanish in our interactions. Again, that's my experience in NYC, maybe different in Miami.

For someone like you, I totally understand where you coming from. I am sure elders appreciate your command of the language.
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
Interesting MP. That is not something I would do because being a non-native, I am very careful about addressing people in Spanish. Unless they barely speak English, I don't. I have seen looks where people take offense thinking you are kinda of "judging" them i.e. think their English sucks. But, often with times, people realize I speak enough to have a regular conversation and/or truly enjoy speaking the language and they would switch to Spanish in our interactions. Again, that's my experience in NYC, maybe different in Miami.

For someone like you, I totally understand where you coming from. I am sure elders appreciate your command of the language.

Fair enough and I think your reply is honest. For me it is all instinct. I think they appreciate it. It just makes the interaction so much easier. They feel comfortable right away and they say Mi hija estás bienvenida aquí. Cualquier cosa que necesites nos avisas and the interaction is so pleasant rather than a language struggle for no reason.


I understand your point though about people might think you are judging their English which is not the case. It is almost a double edged sword sometimes with language- you try to speak the other person’s language and they feel insulted. Oh well, ¿qué se puede hacer? Nada, nadita.


-MP.
 
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Africaida

Guest
Fair enough and I think your reply is honest. For me it is all instinct. I think they appreciate it. It just makes the interaction so much easier. They feel they comfortable right away and they say Mi hija estás bienvenida aquí. Cualquier cosa que necesites nos avisas and the interaction is so pleasant rather than a language struggle for no reason.


I understand your point though about people might think you are judging their English which is not the case. It is almost a double edged sword sometimes with language- you try to speak the other person’s language and they feel insulted. Oh well, ¿qué se puede hacer? Nada, nadita.


-MP.
Indeed, then after they realize I usually get : "Pero porque lo tenia escondido ????" :cheeky:
 
M

Marianopolita

Guest
Here is a linguistic map. It gives a breakdown by country the usage of tú, usted and vos. Check out the DR and other Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. They have similar patterns.






Source: Altura Interactive Spanish Digital Marketing



-MP.