Tú and Usted both mean "You" in English. However, in Spanish, they are not interchangeable. In this lesson. we will learn how and when to use tú and usted.
Tú vs Usted
Tú should be used when you are talking to someone of your age. It's more intimate and informal. So when you are talking to your close friends, children, or family, tú is recommended. Use it in a casual conversation.
Usted, however, is more formal. It should be used when you are talking to someone who is older than you, a new acquaintance, or someone who you want to show respect for. If you don't want to have a closer relationship with someone, or if you want to keep the relationship more professional, use usted.
This might be a little bit confusing to English speakers since we don't have any formal or informal ways to refer to someone using "you".
¿Cómo se llama usted? - What's your name? (respectful)
¿Vas tú con Juan en el auto rojo? - Do you go with Juan in the red car? (casual, friendly)
If you want to address a group of people in an informal way, use "vosotros". It's the informal "you" in plural. The fact is that while people in Spain often uses "vosotros" to address a group of "you all" in a casual way, most other countries don't use this form.
Ustedes is a more formal and polite way to say "you all". In countries like Mexico, ustedes can be both a formal and informal way of addressing two or more people.
Ud. and Uds. are abbreviations of usted and ustedes. If you find these abbreviated forms in written texts, say the whole word.
See also: Common Spanish abbreviations
Use usted to address:
- A stranger
- Someone who you want to show respect for
- An older person
- An honorable figure
Use tú to address
- A friend
- A child
- A classmate
- A pet
Check out the video below for more information:
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