5 ways to say YOU in Spanish
English can be a bit confusing when speaking directly to a person. You can say “you” to practically anybody, whether you know them or not, whether it is a single person or a huge group. In Spanish, there are many ways to address a person and they vary depending on the formality of the relationship, how many people you are talking to, and even what country you are in. In this lesson, we are going to learn how to say YOU in Spanish in all those situations.
- tú – singular and informal
- vos – singular and formal or informal – used in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Central America
- usted (Ud.) – singular and formal
- vosotros – plural and informal – used in Spain
- ustedes (Uds.) – plural and formal or informal
YOU in Spanish examples
That means, for instance, that Do you speak Spanish?, can be translated in Spanish in five different ways:
¿(Tú) hablas español?
¿(Vos) hablás español?
¿(Usted) habla español?
¿(Vosotros) habláis español?
¿(Ustedes) hablan español?
*¡Be aware that while the following examples use the subject pronouns to explain usage, normally they are omitted as the context and verb indicate the subject of the sentence.
YOU for Singular Direct Address
- Only use tú when talking to people you know well that are the same age as you, younger than you, or of the same education level. It can be used to speak directly to children, close relatives, friends, peers, or pets. Tú is also used in many online conversations to keep the tone informal.
¿No quieres (tú) venir la fiesta? (You don’t want to come to the party?)
¿Cómo te llamas (tú), niño? (What is your name, child?)
- Vos is mainly used in what is called the Southern Cone area of South America which encompasses Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Chile. It is also commonly used in Nicaragua and is recognized in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Many people use vos in place of both tú and Ud (take into account that Vos has a specific conjugation):
¿No querés vos venir a la fiesta? (You don’t want to come to the party?)
Queremos hablar con vos muy pronto. (We want to speak with you very soon.)
- Use usted (abbreviated Ud.) when directly addressing someone older, a person you do not know, a superior, or someone you would like to show a lot of respect. It is a good idea to address a new acquaintance as usted as a sign of respect until he/she tells you otherwise or requests that you “tutear” them.
¿Cómo se llama usted? (What is your name?)
Usted tiene una casa muy bonita. (You have a very beautiful home.)
YOU for Plural Direct Address
- Vosotros is primarily used in Spain to address a group of people directly with whom you are familiar. It is the plural form of tú.
¿Adónde vais (vosotros) esta noche? (Where are you (all) going tonight?)
Marcela, Esteban, ¿queréis (vosotros) cenar? (Marcela, Esteban, do you want to eat dinner?)
- Abbreviated Uds., ustedes is used to address two or more people and can be formal or informal. Since most Central and Latin American countries do not use vosotros, Uds. is used in all forms of plural address and the corresponding verb is conjugated in the 3rd person plural form.
Sra. López, Sr. Ramos, ¿han tenido (ustedes) un buen vuelo? (Mrs. López, Mr. Ramos, do you have a good fly?)
Hola, chicos. ¿Quieren (ustedes) ir a tomar unos tragos? (Hey, guys. Do you want to go for a drink?)
More Subject pronouns in Spanish
Click on the link in you want to learn more about how to use subject pronouns in Spanish, and remember to contact your tutor if you have any question about how to translate YOU in Spanish. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?
We are preparing exercises for this lesson, let’s us know if you have any suggestion.