"Usted", the polite way to talk to someone in Spanish

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Being polite is something really important when you are learning a language. Of course is not the same to talk to your family or friends than to an unknown person.

In Spanish we have a special way to show respect to people. And that is using the word “usted”.

Usted would be translated into English as “You singular”, exactly the same as “tú”.

Differences between Tú and Usted

Student note: So...are they the same thing?

No, they aren´t!.

, is the informal way to say “you”, and “usted” is the formal way.

And...here comes the interesting part. When you use “Usted” you don´t use the same verb form as when using “Tú” (the second person singular), but the third person singular!!.

And...you can use “Usted” even without saying “Usted”, just by using the third person singular with a person you are talking to.

Student note: Maybe it´s me, but I didn´t get a single word of what you said.

Well, let´s try some examples!, and then you can get back to the previous paragraph!

You are a nice person (informal)

(Tú) Eres una persona simpática

You are a nice person ( formal)

(Usted) Es una persona simpática

Where do you live? (informal)

¿Dónde vives?

Where do you live? (formal)

¿Dónde vive?

You must do the homework (informal)

(Tú) Debes hacer los deberes

You must do the homework (Formal)

(Usted) Debe hacer los deberes

 

Important note: In Spain we don´t really use “Usted” too often...just with the police, authorities or old people.

As we are from Spain we use “Tú” much more than “Usted”, and we choose the verb form accordingly, but if you are interested in Spanish from Latin America keep in mind that for them “Usted” (and the third person singular of verbs) is usually the way to go when talking to a person.

 Summaring up the concept of Usted

 So, mainly you have to do two things to start using the "usted" form:

1) Forget about saying "Tú" and start using "usted" instead.

2) Don't use the second singular form of a verb ( eg: trabajas, comes, vives...), but the third singular form (eg: trabaja, come, vive...). 

So, how do you say politely "Do you have a pen, please?"

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Guest Thursday, 17 August 2017

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