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of the Week: Formal YOU - Using Usted
there are 2 main ways to say "you" - tú,
and usted (a 3rd informal word for "you",
vos, is used only in select countries).
Usted is used to show respect as well as to put
a little bit of distance between you and the person you are calling
usted (abbreviated as Ud.) Some
Spanish speaking countries, like Mexico, use the word usted
extensively, and almost always when you first meet someone. Other
countries like Spain are a bit more relaxed. For the elderly or
people in positions of authority, you should always use usted
unless asked to use tú.
Rica it isn't uncommon for family members to call each other Ud.
- whereas this is not the norm for most Spanish speaking countries.
In Argentina they practically do away with tú
and usted altogether - using the word vos
for "you" most of the time. They do use usted
occasionally, but vos is the dominant word for
"you" in Argentina and Uruguay. But cross over into Chile
and vos is rarely used!
If you travel
to a Spanish speaking country - you can judge what the tendencies
are in that country by taking note of who tends to call you usted,
and who calls you tú. Since I learned Spanish
in Mexico I was very suprised the first time a taxi driver called
me tú! Later when living in Buenos Aires,
I adjusted to nearly everyone calling me vos. You'll
find that usage does vary from country to country. A
good rule: call people Ud. until you notice that
they are all calling you tú or vos.
to hear an mp3 of the word usted
to hear an mp3 explaining the usage of usted
Try renting one of your favorite movies on DVD, and turn on the
Spanish subtitles feature! This is a great way to reinforce grammar
lessons that you've learned, and will help you to expand your vocabulary.
You can also do the opposite - rent a Spanish DVD and turn on the
English subtitles. Once you feel comfortable with your level of
comprehension - turn the subtitles off.
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