I'm having trouble with 3rd person singular formal "you." In English, "you," whether it is second person singular or plural, is followed by a plural verb in either case. An example would be, "you run." Also, in English, he, she or it is third person, and is followed by a singular verb, as in "he-she runs." Using that same verb "run, what do you do in Spanish with the third person (formal)? Is it you run or you runs?

4 Answers



I'm having trouble with 3rd person singular formal "you."

You is 2nd person in either English or Spanish. The conjugation tables, however, list verb endings according to the subject pounouns that use them. You formal (usted/ustedes), therefore, is listed with the 3rd person subject pronouns (él, ella, ellas, ellos) because they take 3rd person verb endings. That does not mean that you formal is 3rd person, just that it uses 3rd person verb endings.

You can find a few sites that try to correct that misconception, by listing tú, vos, and usted under 2nd person, but most books follow the traditional presentation, by listing usted along with él and ella in the 3rd person position.

read section on Spanish verb person

Notice that usted is listed under 2nd person, the person being addressed in a converstation. (1st person is the speaker, and 3rd person is someone being talked about [other than 1st or 2nd]).

This misconception about you formal being 3rd person is suported by the fact that usted has historical ties to 3rd person Vuestra Merced that later became 2nd person.

thread describing usted as 2nd; not 3rd person

I had not thought about the third person,either. The thing is that the formula coincides with the third person, but it is not a third person, it is a respectful second person.

Sorry, I couldn't find one to the tables that list tú, vos and usted under 2nd person, but I have seen them. Perhaps, someone else knows of such a site and could post it.

Here is a site showing you the difference between showing conjugations by person and one showing conjugation by subject pronoun view which is the traditional method (it takes less space to display). verb conjugation

  • major wow, quenin, great answer - 00494d19 Jan 9, 2011
  • I appreciate your thoughtful, in-depth answer very much. I will study it with care. - Maria-Russel Jan 9, 2011



(Yo) corro ........ I run

(tú / vos) corres / corrés ...... You familiar run (Vos in just certain countries)

(Usted) corre .......... You formal run

(Nosotros) corremos ........ We run

(Vosotros / Ustedes) corréis / corren ....... You plural run (Vosotros in Spain)

(Ellos) corren ....... They run

  • Thanks for the information, can you translate that into English? - Maria-Russel Jan 8, 2011


¡Hola!, Maria:


For greater certainty:


Usted corre = you run (present indicative 3rd person singular)
Él/Ella corre = He/She runs (present indicative 3rd person singular)


Whether to translate as 'run' or 'runs' is conditional or depends on what would be most properly said in the langauge you are converting to in this case.

  • Jan 8, 2011
  • | Edited by Moe Jan 8, 2011
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  • Thanks Moe, I'm going to study what you said. - Maria-Russel Jan 8, 2011
  • Thanks again Moe for your insight, voting. I might ask another question if you don't mind. - Maria-Russel Jan 8, 2011


In English, "you," whether it is second person singular or plural, is followed by a plural verb in either case.

But you feel the need to add "you guys" if you are talking to more than one person, though. That is actually one of the few really bad weaknesses of the English language. I find it funny that you mention it as weakness in Spanish, and therefore, implicitly as a strength in Spanish.

  • I wasn't speaking in terms of strength or weakness, I'm simply trying to describe the way it's used and do a comparison contrast in Spanish. I wasn't suggesting the English language was superior in that context. - Maria-Russel Jan 8, 2011