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“Exploración del lenguaje”-Exploring the language

“Tú, Usted and Ustedes”

How do you say "you" in Spanish? Since you are new to learning
Spanish, the answer is not as simple as it may seem.
That's because Spanish, like many other languages, has several
different ways that you can address other people, all of which can be
translated by the English word "you."
First, there are both singular and plural forms, which are not
distinguished in the English word, although we can usually tell which is
meant. But more important to learning how the Spanish language is
used, Spanish also has formal and informal (also called "familiar")
ways of saying "you," the usage depending on the person you're
talking to and/or the circumstances. The difference doesn't come
across in translating to English, but if you use the informal "you"
where the formal is required, you run the risk of sounding
presumptuous or even arrogant.
First, here is a chart showing the various ways of saying "you" as the
subject of a sentence:
Singular informal: tú
Singular formal: usted
Plural informal: vosotros (only used in Spain!)
Plural formal: ustedes
Here are simple examples of how these pronouns might be used:
1. Katrina, ¿quieres tú comer? (Katrina, do you want to eat?)
2. Señora Miller, ¿quiere usted comer? (Mrs. Miller, do you want to
eat?)
3. Katrina y Pablo, ¿queréis vosotros comer? (Katrina and Pablo,
do you want to eat?)
4. Señora Miller y Señor Delgado, ¿quieren ustedes comer? (Mrs.
Miller and Mr. Delgado, do you want to eat?)

Important note: In the above sentences, the pronouns have been


included for clarification and to explain the pronoun usage. In real life,
the pronouns would normally be omitted, because the context would
make clear who the subject is in each sentence.
One reason for knowing which form of "you" to use is that there are
different corresponding words for "your" and "yours" as well as for
"you" when it isn't the subject of a sentence. Also, Spanish uses
different verb forms for the informal and formal usages, with the
informal forms taking a second-person conjugation while the formal
forms take a third-person conjugation (the same used for the
equivalents of "he," "she," and "they").

The basic rule: As a general rule (although keep in mind that there
may be exceptions):

The informal or familiar “Tú” is used when speaking to close family


members, children, friends or close acquaintances, and pets.

“Usted” (abbreviation is Ud.- capital “U” lower case “d” followed by a


period) is used when speaking to strangers, some family members
(depends on your relationship), elders and anyone you would address
with a title in front of their name. (Examples: Mr. Mrs. Miss, Dr.,
President, Officer, etc.)

Obviously, the use of tú suggests a certain amount of closeness. But


the degree of closeness can vary from one region to another. In some
places, people of similar social status will start using tú upon meeting,
while in other areas doing so might seem presumptuous. If you're
uncertain which to use, it is usually better to use usted unless the
person starts speaking to you using tú, in which case it is usually OK
to reciprocate (unless you are a child or the person speaking to you is
a police officer or other authority figure). Spanish even has a verb,
tutear, meaning to address someone using tú. In a few areas, as in
much of Colombia, usted is used even with close friends and family
members.

Plurals: In Spain, there are two words for you plural:


1. vosotros (you plural-informal or familiar)
2. ustedes (you plural-formal) Abbreviation for ustedes is Uds.-
capital “U”-lower case “ds” followed by a period).

In all other Spanish-speaking countries, ustedes is the word used for


you (plural) whether speaking informally (familiarly) or formally.