Usted o vos?


It's a bit of a grey area this, knowing when to tutear or not.
Generally in the shop, I start out with all the best intentions talking to the customer as usted and then slipping in a vos here and there, by which time it's too late. Once you've vossed, so to speak it's not quite right to roll back to usted, at least as far as I've been told.
When to cross the line is the question.
I tend to listen to them first and if they start with usted, it seems the way to go and I try to follow, but it only lasts a few seconds.
Most people don't mind at all, especially when they realise I'm a Brit and we don't have this form of differentiating.
And don't get me on the subjunctive...........ojala que sea etc. that took me years!
Anyone else have any opinions on when to tutear?


As a rule of thumb ( being Argentine ) I would always use "usted" if the person I am talking to is older than me ( use if you want to be expressly formal, or as a sign of respect, or if it is a total stranger. You can also use it for inlaws that are older, etc ) if they are younger I would use "vos". " Usted " marks a certain distance, whether it is age, work hierarchy, or if you simply want to put distance between the other person and you ( say you have a painter working at your home, it is perfectly normal to use Ud. ) For a customer, I would always, always use Usted, and only if they ask me to use vos I might go ahead and do it. It is true that once you go from Ud to vos, then it makes no sense going back ( unless you are asked to! which could happen sometimes )


As you've noticed people here are much more casual about the use of usted then in a lot of other spanish speaking countries. It is a form of respect or reverence essentially, and is often used only until a relationship is established between two people, at which point they will vosear.

I had to take french the whole way through school and university, I'll always remember this silly video we watched with two people of the same age on a train to somewhere who struck up a conversation and vous-vous-ed each other until one asked the other if they were happy with tu-tu-ing...

Biz situations:
- in an interview when you first meet your higher ups
- in a meeting with an important client
- if you're the one conducting an interview, using usted would establish a more formal conversational tone
- in phone conversations when ordering product etc, again I'd use it as a form until you've established relationships with people.
- someone with a title or authority

- with colleagues on the same level or people below you
- with your boss if the environment of the office is more relaxed (often the norm here) or if you're a new hire, once you're feeling more comfortable

Social situations:
- someone older
- someone with a title or authority, and you may use that title in addressing them

- anyone younger than you
- anyone that is a friend or colleague

In a shop if clients enter adults I would address as usted and children or teenagers vos. If it's a regular client and they address you as vos you can switch.

However a lot truly is forgiven when you are a foreigner.

A little shortcut in your head, if it's someone you would address as Senora instead of Senorita, use Usted... although I'm now getting addressed as Senora instead of Senorita and *sigh* does that make me feel like I'm getting on, when I first arrived it was always senorita.

I like what Nikad said about the painter, that's so true -- it establishes distance and authority rather than implying "we're on the same level and I don't really mind if you don't get this job done today because we're buddies" jaja!


This is the 21st century and we almost always use vos or tu. You could disagree of course, but then you're probably 60+ :)


orwellian said:
This is the 21st century and we almost always use vos or tu. You could disagree of course, but then you're probably 60+.
This is so not true! Certain manners never get old, and are very much appreciated, even if you think they are totally old fashioned ( which they aren´t btw ) Hey I am in my mid 30s :)


"Tu"? We never use tú in Argentina.

I am 35, and I do not use "vos" when speaking with my mother in law. My sisters in law use "vos" when speaking to my mom, but my husband doesn´t... it depends....

I guess it has to do with the fact that I left Argentina before the crisis... Many things changed after that ....


I sometimes use usted to the outlaws just to wind them up.
But seriously, her other son in law (Argentine) wouldn't dream of referring to her as vos. It's just the way it is.
Tu? Eres? What the heck! You know how much the Argentines take the piss out of the Spanish lol.
Sometimes we even have gallego nights at home, where we all have to speak madrileño!


Could someone please help me understand is there exists a genitive form (I think its called) of you are having a conversation with vos this and vos that and suddenly you need to say "with you" it just plain "con vos"? is there a way to use a vos equivalent of contigo etc?