the spanish of "you": tú vs. usted
Can the use of "usted" and "ti" be interchanged when you refer to "you"? When are ti, tu, su, usted, or ustedes should be used?
Typically for all intents and purposes start with "usted" forms for anyone you meet unless they are a small child. That is perhaps the only instance in which it would be immediately okay to talk with the "tú" forms with them. Other than that, always assume "usted." In spanish speaking countries you actually can ask the person to be more casual with you, asking "¿nos tuteamos?" And if they respond positively then begin to use "tú", as they will with you. And just be careful when writing "tú" because without the accent it means "your."
So joeWaverage, you are saying its ok if I just met a cute girl and the first sentence I said to her had the word "you" in it, its ok to use "tú" as she will not get offended or make fun of me? In other words I dont wanna know what the text book tells me I should use, I wanna know whats really done/practiced in real life among people in spanish countries.
Usetd is a very formal usage. Unless you are talking to a very important person, the usage of this form is almost a put off. The formalities are not typically used in day to day conversation.
Ok, also: i understand 'usted' is for polite/formal/people you don't know and with older people, but in real usage in spanish countries, if you were a male in your twenties and just met a girl same age at a coffee shop or something, what would actually be used, tu or usted, or is it more of personal preference at that point?
Can the use of "usted" and "tú" be interchanged when you refer to "you"?
Hi drupe, welcome to the forum.
Yes, basically this is correct. In English the polite form "usted" does not exist.
Ustedes is the plural form of the polite form, used for older people and in formal occasions.