"You" in Spanish
In Spanish, there are five ways to say you, and they vary according to the number of people being addressed, how well the people involved know each other, and what country the people are in or are from.
In English you can say you to practically any person or group of people, whether you know them or not.
In Spanish, however, there are many ways to say you, and they vary depending on the formality of the relationship between the speaker(s) and listener(s), how many people are being spoken to, and even what country the people are in or are from. The table below presents the five ways you can say you in Spanish, along with important information to help you choose which one you should use in different situations.
|Pronoun||Number and Formality||Where It's Used|
|singular and informal||used in most Spanish-speaking countries|
|singular and formal or informal||used in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Chile and Central America|
|singular and formal||used in most Spanish-speaking countries|
|plural and informal||used in Spain|
|plural and formal or informal||used in all Spanish-speaking countries|
More detailed explanations of each of the five ways to say you are given below.
While the examples in this article use subject pronouns like tú and ustedes, it's very normal for these pronouns to be omitted in everyday speech.
Singular Direct Address
You should only use tú when talking to people you know well, especially those that are the same age as you or younger. Tú can be used to speak directly to children, close relatives, friends, peers, or pets. It is also used in many online conversations to keep the tone informal.
Vos is mainly used in a region of South America called the Southern Cone , which is made up of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Chile. It is also commonly used in Nicaragua and may also be heard in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. Many people use vos in place of both tú and usted.
Usted (often abbreviated Ud.) is used when addressing someone older, a person you do not know, a superior, or someone to whom you would like to show a lot of respect. It is often a good idea to address a new acquaintance as usted as a sign of respect until they tell you otherwise or request that you tutear them.
Tutear is a fancy verb that means to address someone using tú instead of usted.
Plural Direct Address
Ustedes (often abbreviated Uds.) is used to address two or more people and can be formal or informal. Since most Latin American countries do not use vosotros, ustedes is used for all forms of plural address in this region.