2nd person vs 3rd person are they interchangeble?

0
votes

Hi everyone! I am trying to understand the difference between the 3rd person and the 2nd person. It seems to me that they are interchangeable when you are having a direct conversion with someone. One is formal and other is informal?

For example:
Quiere monstrarme el problema'(formal')
vs
Quieres monstrarme el problema'(informal')

How about asking a girl to dance?

quieres bailar'(if I've met this girl before)
vs
quiere bailar'( if I've never met her before)

So when i talk to strangers, I should talk to them in 3rd person right?
Thank you for your help.

Duy

7702 views
updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by duy

23 Answers

1
vote

It isn't that 2nd and 3rd person are interchangable. At least, I think that you will confuse yourself if you think of it that way. 2nd person means the person you are talking to. 2nd person singluar is that form you mention first (quieres.) 3rd person is person you take about. 2nd person formal happens to conjugate in the same way as 3rd person singular. Use formal (usted) with anyone who you would use the term sir and ma'am with. Who that would be may depend on where you are from and it is safer to err on the polite side. I don't think that you would use usted with someone you are hitting on wink

updated FEB 15, 2010
posted by Redimida
0
votes

Sorry I'm so late responding to this. I've been on the road, traveling to more of the beautiful cities in Colombia.

Here, Usted and Tu seem almost interchangeable. I often hear friends talking and switching back and forth. Some of that may be the seeming difficulty of some conjugations in the Tu form.

For example, I often hear something like ¿Vas al cine? but I don't recall ever hearing ¿Fuiste al cine? The past tense is a little complicated, so we tend not to use it.

Stores often use the informal form, even in their advertising. On the other hand, some stores or commercial products always use the formal. Por ejemplo: pague 6, lleve 9. (pay for six, take nine)--a sale on paper. Today I was given some Bingo cards at a store (didn't win anything). On the cards it says "busca tu premio" and "sigue participando." All informal.

I guess the bottom line is just what Natasha said. It depends on the country. Back in the 1970s, no one in Caracas, Venezuela would use the informal with strangers, but the folks in Colombia used it all the time.

In any case, my experience in Colombia, and with a number of folks from other Latin American countries, is that if you make a mistake with the language, they'll still understand you and go on. About the last thing they'll want to do is make you feel uncomfortable. I don't know how many times I've had people tell me that I speak Spanish perfectly. They're lying, but it's only to make me more comfortable. Actually, it makes me want to continue to improve my ability with the language.

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by CalvoViejo
0
votes

Thanks Natasha, this is exactly what I was looking for. I tried searching for it before but nothing came up.

Natasha said:

Philip said:

:

So,i know that in latin america they use Usted form almost in all cases.

It depends on the country. If you search in the forum, you can see previous discussions on the topic. Here's one:

[url=http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A581661&page=1&commentId=1710195%3AComment%3A585331&x=1#1710195Comment585331]http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A581...[/url]

>

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by duy
0
votes

Juan Garcia said:

bailar usted? I alway asking the girl using "would you like to dance" (with me implied), I don't know it is a correct or incorrect form. But, nine out of ten changes, I will got the "Si" in response.
¿Quiere bailar? (with an implied "usted") would be more grammatical. You could also avoid the entire question of tú/usted with a simple "¿Bailamos'"

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by samdie
0
votes

Philip said:

:

So,i know that in latin america they use Usted form almost in all cases.

It depends on the country. If you search in the forum, you can see previous discussions on the topic. Here's one:

[url=http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A581661&page=1&commentId=1710195%3AComment%3A585331&x=1#1710195Comment585331]http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A581661&page=1&commentId=1710195%3AComment%3A585331&x=1#1710195Comment585331[/url]

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by Natasha
0
votes

bailar usted? I alway asking the girl using "would you like to dance" (with me implied), I don't know it is a correct or incorrect form. But, nine out of ten changes, I will got the "Si" in response.

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by Favorito
0
votes

The correct spelling "Buenos Días."

"Hola that is in the 2nd person" -- that doesn't make sense.

Frank Parr said:

When you don't know a person it is right to use formal third person ie Buenas dias como está and if they want to remain formal they will say Buenas Dias muy bien usted but if they want to it to be informal they could say Hola that is in the 2nd personIn the conjugation you will notice the second person has a s ie hablas as against habla for the third personthe second person they call it a friendly sThis is to say you are there friend

>

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by Natasha
0
votes

When you don't know a person it is right to use formal third person ie Buenas dias como está and if they want to remain formal they will say Buenas Dias muy bien usted but if they want to it to be informal they could say Hola that is in the 2nd person
In the conjugation you will notice the second person has a s ie hablas as against habla for the third person
the second person they call it a friendly s
This is to say you are there friend
You use formal for people like doctors, police officers, judges those in authority and the older people
Its like in England we say Mr Smith to some one we don't know until they say call me John
its like that in Spain third person Mr smith second person call me John

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by Frank-Parr
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votes

Kevin Smithey said:

On the technical side of things, Philip is right. "Usted" comes from two Arabic words and basically means "your grace".
"usted" evolved from two Spanish words: "vuestra merced".

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by samdie
0
votes

Ok,Here in Spain one thing atracted my suriosity.The way people are kind,without being formal.You can enter a shop and the worker there just tels you"di me"(tell me),but in a way looking at your eyes,paying all attention to you,speaking like old friends.it is very cute.on the contrary of the feeling i have(sorry to say this) with samo people from UK who speak with you,and at the same time make you feel like garbage.Attitude in Spain is more important than the wordssmileSo,i know that in latin america they use Usted form almost in all cases.Even i had an argument with spanish girl wich is the proper spanish:that one coming from spain,or from latin america.She pinted that the origin of the language is from spain,and i pointed that spanish speakers are 400 milions,and only 40 milions of them are leaving in spain.we went to dead point,where i showd her the solution:the proper language is the one that the clasic writers use in their books.In my country there four diferent dialects,but most of the writers used to use one of them,so it was adopted like oficial language.i think this is a nice rule,and can apply toother languages.so it is better first to learn the oficial,and the smooth one,and then to study the variations

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by Philip
0
votes

duy said:

so it seems me that, if you want to be formal, you have to conjugate the verb in 3rd person'(you may or may not add usted, since it's implicitly understood') I am not sure about "the formal one just happens to be the same verb conjugation as third person"

I brought this up, because i heard some people saying "Quiere monstrarme el problema'" instead of "Quieres monstrarme el problema'" in a direct conversation.

In English, we sometimes use third person referring to second person, I am just so curious how it works in Spanish

This is correct, duy.

Of course, as Lazrus pointed pout, we mean an unknown elderly person. If the elderly are from your family, or the neighbours, or something, we normally use the second person, tú form.

I will send some Hispanics to this thread through. usted is used there all the time, even among friends.

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by 00494d19
0
votes

I am not sure about "the formal one just happens to be the same verb conjugation as third person"

I just meant that that is how it is taught. It never occurred to me that the reason for the third person verb form was that, at some point in time at least, it really was third person like "your honor or your majesty is"

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by The-Steve
0
votes

so it seems me that, if you want to be formal, you have to conjugate the verb in 3rd person'(you may or may not add usted, since it's implicitly understood') I am not sure about "the formal one just happens to be the same verb conjugation as third person"

I brought this up, because i heard some people saying "Quiere monstrarme el problema'" instead of "Quieres monstrarme el problema'" in a direct conversation.

In English, we sometimes use third person referring to second person, I am just so curious how it works in Spanish

steve said:

This is interesting. When we (english speakers) are taught spanish in school we are taught that there are two forms of second person, and the formal one just happens to use the same verb conjugation as third person. That's why 2 people (one of them me) tried to explain that usted wasn't third person, but if I understand, what you're saying that in fact it is. Explains why Heidita understood what was really being asked when we didn't.

Philip said:

One more:Usted meand something like "your honour".now think! how are you going to ask someone something,adressing him "your honour"'"Does you honour like somethink to drink"'You see,even in english is 3-th person

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updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by duy
0
votes

This is interesting. When we (english speakers) are taught spanish in school we are taught that there are two forms of second person, and the formal one just happens to use the same verb conjugation as third person. That's why 2 people (one of them me) tried to explain that usted wasn't third person, but if I understand, what you're saying that in fact it is. Explains why Heidita understood what was really being asked when we didn't.

Philip said:

One more:Usted meand something like "your honour".now think! how are you going to ask someone something,adressing him "your honour"'"Does you honour like somethink to drink"'You see,even in english is 3-th person

>

updated NOV 18, 2008
posted by The-Steve
0
votes

On the technical side of things, Philip is right. "Usted" comes from two Arabic words and basically means "your grace". So usted creates an interesting situation, although not one unheard of in English. As Philip said, when you're in court you would say instead of 'how are you'', "how IS your honor". This is the same although the average Spanish speaker doesn't know the origin of the word usted or why they use the third person to be polite.
As was already mentioned, better to be on the safe side. And it does depend on the country, and even on the family's culture. I've known families which use tu with parents and even grandparents, and as someone mentioned earlier, would be shocked if their family member used usted. It would akin to saying Mr. or Mrs. to your own relatives. But I've personally noted, particularly in Mexico, that usted is nearly invariably used with older family members. Of course, I think this may vary regionally even within the country, so i'm sure someone will correct me. As for young people, you're pretty safe calling them tu.
A perfect rule of thumb is to simply follow the other person's lead. Being raised in the culture, they surely have a more definite understanding of when it is appropriate to use the familiar form. So try using usted until they use tu with you. Sometimes you will even be told outright which to use, as in English a man may say, "Please, call me Bill. Mr. Smith is my father."

updated NOV 17, 2008
posted by Monk