Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (2023)

The distinction between formality and informality is a dominant feature of any language. In Spanish, tú and usted work like this.

Spanish has two different subject pronouns to refer to a second person, both singular and plural, and they all translate as "you" in English. In this article we will see how to distinguish them and how to use them correctly.

Ofis the subject pronoun of the second person singular "you" in Spanish and is used for informal speeches, whileOfit's formal

They are used in almost all Spanish speaking countries. although dependent onLatin America Region, können wir die Variation hörenVos,which is also considered informal, but the verbs are conjugated differently with it.

"You vs You"or "you against you"?

You will find that there is a very important differenceaccentabout the "u" inOftalk about the pronoun. Without that accent, theOfcounts as a possessive pronoun. That is:"Of"and you're"Of"it is yours".

Spanish subject pronouns

Let's just have a quick overview of thatSpanish subject pronouns

Spanish personal pronounsEnglish personal pronouns
Her voice(Singular - informell)Of
Of(singular – formal)Of
he she(Singular)he she
Of(Plural – Lateinamerika)Of(Everything you)
Of(Plural - Spain)Of(Everything you)

Note that the pronoun"Of"it is only used in Spain. In Latin America even native speakers in eachConversationwill have difficulty when asked to conjugate a verb with this one.

Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (1) QUICK TIP…

The verbs after usted, él and ella are conjugated in the same way.

how to conjugateOfeOf

If youLearning Spanish, learn that native Spanish speakers rarely use subject pronouns. Overb conjugationyou should pay attention to that. Let's start with some of the most common verbs inspanish grammar:

spanish verbOfVosOf
Be(be)they areSOSes
May be(be)they arethey areIt is
Need(need)you needyou needit takes
Ter(Ter)Teryou havetem
Want(want)wantyou want tohe wants

Now with something in commonSpanish reflexive verbs:

spanish reflexive verbOfVosOf
Lavar(wash)you washyou washNO
to brush(To brush)you cleanyou suckerhe brushes
To get dressed(to get dressed)take careyour dresssee pictured
Invent(compensate)you turn yourself offyou turn yourself offshe does her make up
To take a bath(Have a shower)do you have a showeryou assholebaden
Fall asleep(fall asleep)are you sleepingyou fall asleepif you sleep

how to employOf,Of, zVos

As ainteresting Spanish fact, the informal pronounVosis not relatedOf. In times of Spanish colonization, the indigenous population used the termyour mercy"to refer to members of the Spanish nobility, which would mean "your grace" in English.

Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (2)FUN FACT…

EmColombian Spanishpeople usesubmergedtalking to someone you don't know very well or want to show respect to. They also use the formalOfrefer someone with more experience.

Vos is a pronoun that developed from this period. In Latin American SpanishVosare mainly found in:

  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Paraguay
  • The saviour
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica

some othersCountries that speak spanishuseOfeyou are:

  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Chile
  • Venezuela
  • Ecuador

And there are those who only useOf:

  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Spain
  • Because
  • Mexico

Even if we sayVos is not relatedOf, there are regional dialects that use a combination of these two. That is, with the pronounVoswhere the verb is conjugated asOf. Examples of this can be heard in the state of Zulia in Venezuela and on the Azuero Peninsula in Panama. For example:

  • I did not know thatTo be yoursleft handed. –I didn't know you were left handed.

On the other hand,Of is sometimes conjugated asVosIn Chile. Don't worry, all native Spanish speakers will understand if you conjugate everything withOf.

When to use Tú or usted: formal vs. informal

UseOfno informal records

Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (3)

UseOfwith friends and family. Although in some regions you may hear people usingOfCalling parents is becoming less and less common. The people who are close to you also deserve this friendshipOf.

  • I like you. –I like you.
  • How are you, Mom? –How are you, Mom?

UseOftalk to young people like you. It would be weird to name someone your ageOf. This only works if that person is rude or looks much older.

  • We're the same age, don't tell me! –We're the same age, so don't be so formal!
  • Hey do you like rock? –Hey do you like rock?

UseOfto chat with colleagues and classmates. The people who work or study with you are people you see often and who you probably know quite well.

  • Pedro, do you have the homework that the teacher sent you today?– Pedro, do you have the homework that the teacher sent you today?
  • We work in the same office, we should get to know each other better, don't you think?– We work in the same office, we should know each other, don't you think?

UseOfapproach children and animals. It's not really a rule, it's just the way it is. Don't tell me you don't talk to your pets!

  • Carlitos, do you want to win five dollars?– Carlitos, do you want to win five dollars?
  • who is a good girl You are a good girl!– Who is a good girl? You are a good girl!

friends, family or a loved one. Learn to show them how much you care for them.Spanish pet names and pet names.

And last but not least, you can useOfcomstrokeS. Not much to say here, insults are meant informally and disrespectfully.

UseOfno formal registration

Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (4)

UseOfReach out to an older person respectfully. Latin American societies are very respectful of their seniors and not doing so can show rudeness.

Seniors can appeal to young peopleOf; although certain exceptions can be made: a teacher calling studentsOf in class, for example to maintain a professional distance.

  • Juan, did you manage to do your homework today? –Juan, did you manage to do your homework today?
  • You are calm, grandfather. I'll make him breakfast. –Just sit down, grandpa. i make breakfast for you

UseOfgenerally when addressing people in bureaucratic or administrative situations. You don't mean disrespect in this context.

  • Remember that assembly will start in ten minutes. –Remember that assembly will start in ten minutes.
  • Now you have the right to speak. –Now you have the right to speak.

UseOfforBusiness: Talk to your boss or someone from another company. It shows professionalism. For example:

  • Can I see you after the meeting, Mr. Ramirez? –Can I see you after the meeting, Mr. Ramirez?
  • You have been appointed as the new Head of Human Resources, Ms. Fajardo. –You have been appointed as the new Head of Human Resources, Ms. Fajardo.

UseOfwith people you don't know: the first time you talk to someone on the street, withOfit shows that you are polite.

  • Excuse me please. Can you tell me what time it is?:Excuse me please. Can you tell me what time it is?
  • Good morning Mrs. Rodriguez, how are you today?:Good morning Mrs. Rodriguez. How are you doing today?

Alternatives to Usted in Spanish

How we can useVos eOf in some regions the possibility of expressionOfalso in other ways.

We already mentioned thatsubmerged it was a valid colloquial option in Colombia. But in other Spanish speaking countriessubmerged it is neither used nor understood.

To replace this formal pronoun, people would useHerr orMadam. when you call someoneHerr orMadam, the other person will understand that this is a level of respect. However, young women do not like being calledMadam,not even a little bit.

From formal Spanish "du" to informal "du"

Tú vs. Usted in Spanish: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need (5)

As already described, a young person withOfReferring to older people is strange and frowned upon. When this happens, people can assume that the younger one has bad manners or has an agreed level of trust in the older one.

It is not uncommon, even in English, for someone to ask to be addressed by their first name instead of a formal title. Depending on the situation and context, this could also be considered flirting and would be very common in Spanish. Pay attention to details!

Remember, if you're not sure what to do with a person, useOf. It's safe and polite. People will ask you to address them by their first name - or as we say in Spanish,"Of" -when they feel it is the right time to do so.

familiar and you

Blowmeans to address a person with thatOffor reasons of trust or familiarity. If you've known someone for a while and want to approach them with renewed confidence, you might ask:"Can we call each other?"

OfIt's not a common word, but it's perfectly valid in Spanish. Native speakers prefer to say"Treat You With Respect", and it means to give or request the respectful treatment of someone with the formal pronounOf.

Some examples with tu and usted

You're smart.You're smartYou're smart
Could you bring some water, please?Could you bring some water, please?Could you bring some water, please?
You are safe.You are safe.You're right.
Are you from here?Are you from here?Are you from here?
you have to say pleaseyou have to say pleaseyou have to say please
Choose one: Spanish from Spain or Latin Spanish.Choose one, Spanish from Spain or Latin Spanish.Choose one, Spanish from Spain or Latin Spanish.
You're out of luck.You have bad luck.He's unlucky.

they are they

Even though this article is not about these two, it is important to point out the difference as shown at the beginning. That has already been saidOf used only in Spain and people in Latin America know little about this verb conjugation.

Well, the same goes forOf.Of it's only used in Latin America and most Spaniards don't know how to conjugate with it. Both pronouns are not strictly formal, they can also be used as the plural form of "you".


  • They are free teachers:You are free teachers.
  • They are free teachers:You are free teachers.

In summary, these two mean the same thing but are used in different places.

The rest is up to you!

Listen carefully to how native speakers use both pronouns. As I said, useOfwhen you are not sure how to treat someone. People will think you're being polite, and that's never a bad thing.

Have fun trying to put this into practice, just so you remember what you've learned. If you don't have someone to practice with, we invite you to do soTry a free courseor sign up for one7-day free trial of our group courses. Try us and see why thousands of students trust usspanish vip!

Until next time!

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