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I learned my Spanish in Spain, some years ago. Now I am visiting Uruguay and Argentina and coming across the usage of the pronoun vos, and its corresponding different formation of the second person singular forms of verbs.

Very few resources seem to explain the use of the voseo, and so I find myself somewhat unsure of how to conjugate verbs to go with it. What are the rules for forming the second person singular, specifically with the rioplatense variant of the voseo?

It seems to me that in almost all cases one takes the root of the verb, replaces the final r by an s, and shifts the emphasis to the last syllable; eg hablar => hablás. This seems to account in at least most cases for the fact that the vos form doesn't incorporate the changes to the root which the form (and sometimes others) adopt; such as decís vs dices.

However I am unable to find this as a written rule anywhere, leading me to think that things may be more complicated. Furthermore there are obviously irregular verbs like ser => sos...

So, can anyone point me to a guideline for how to form the vos form of verbs in español rioplatense?

Español

Aprendí mi español en España, hace varias años. Ahora que estoy visitando Uruguay y Argentina, encuentro el uso del pronombre vos con su correspondiente conjugación diferente del verbo con el segundo persona del singular.

Pocos recursos explican el uso del voseo, y por tanto me encuentro con unas dudas sobre como conjugar verbos para vos. ¿Cuáles son las reglas para la formación de el segundo persona del singular, específicamente con el voseo rioplatense?

Me parece que en casi todos los casos solamente se sustituye a la r final con una s, y se cambia el énfasis para la vocal final; ej hablar => hablás. Me parece que ese toma en cuenta, al menos en la mayoría de los casos, el hecho de que la forma correspondiente al vos no incorpora los cambios a la raíz que afectan la forma del (ya veces otros formas), por ejemplo decís vs dices.

No obstante, no puedo encontrar ninguna regla escrita, lo que me hace sospechar que el asunto es más complicado que eso. Además, obviamente, existen verbos irregulares, como ser => sos...

Entonces, ¿alguien me puede explicar las reglas sobre la conjugación de los verbos para concordar con el pronombre vos del español rioplatense?

(Perdóname por los errores en la traducción al español. Hace mucho tiempo que no hablé ni escribí español, y además estoy confundido por haber pasado los últimos seis meses en Brasil... :-/)

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Great question, and welcome to Spanish.SE! –  Flimzy May 19 '13 at 6:20
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También estoy aprendiendo portugues brasileño y me confunde mucho! >.< –  Kage May 19 '13 at 7:03
    
@Flimzy thanks! –  caesarsgrunt May 19 '13 at 7:21

4 Answers 4

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I learnt Spanish in Argentina so to me the vos conjugations come naturally (and they're actually easier IMO =P). But I think that you pretty much already undersand how to form the present indicative singular second person in Rioplatense Spanish.

As you said, remove the final -r, replace it with -s and shift the stress to the last vowel. Make sure to ignore stem changes that happen with the conjugation.

eg.

  • tú recuerdas -> vos recordás
  • tú puedes -> vos podés
  • tú vienes -> vos venís
  • etc.

This is pretty easy because you can ignore the irregular stem changes of .

There are three words that are irregularly conjugated with vos (where I learned Spanish). They are: ir, ser and haber. You don't really have to worry about haber though because it isn't used much in the indicative (haber + past participle) as the Argentinians tend to use simple past instead (where I stayed anyways).

Eg.

  • ser -> sos
  • ir -> vas
  • haber -> has

You've probably already noticed, but there is quite a bit of variation between how different countries use voseo (and even within the same country sometimes). Wikipedia calls the conjugations that countries like Argentina and Uruguay use, Standard Conjugation.

There's quite a large Wikipedia page on the use of vos, but it's really not too difficult if you follow the couple of rules I mentioned.

Another note is that in Argentina at least (maybe just in the north?) they tend to drop the final -s in second person singular indicative conjugations (when speaking). But this varies quite a bit (eg. it's not really dropped on -ís endings) and the Argentinians tend to drop the final -s on lots of words, not just verbs.

Another awesome thing about Rioplatense Spanish is that you don't have to worry about the second person plural conjugations (at least in Argentina), you can just use the third person plural.

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thanks, that seems to basically confirm what I had figured out. You mention the imperative; how is that formed with vos? I hadn't actually thought about forms other than the present indicative being different... I shall have a look at the Spanish Wikipedia page and see what I can work out from it; I hadn't thought of that. I'm not too keen on the Rioplatense use of ustedes instead of vosotros, but I guess I'll get used to it. They seem to use the formal more than Spanish anyhow (I hardly used usted in Spain), which sounds odd to me being used to tuteando everyone... –  caesarsgrunt May 19 '13 at 7:19
    
I certainly get what you're saying about the vos forms being easier than the forms, I can see already that there's much less irregularity, what with the stem not changing. Pity it's different in different places though! –  caesarsgrunt May 19 '13 at 7:21
    
Haha yeah, actually im fairly certain that using 'ustedes' for the second person plural isn't actually considered formal... that's just the word they use. Apart from that (in my experience) the Argentinians hardly ever use formal conjugations at all! Haha yeah I do love Rioplatense Spanish, and I always use it even when Im talking to people from other Spanish speaking countries (which is a lot). Luckily I am always understood and no one ever really even comments on it. Although... sometimes I get a bit of a chuckle =p –  Kage May 19 '13 at 7:42
    
Imperative is easy, it's the same as the infinitive voseo. I just mean that imperative differs in tu -> vos. Actually the only thing you wont hear in Rioplatense Spanish is the regular imperative form of 'ir' because they always use 'andá'. You'll hear 'andar' being used lots if you go there =) –  Kage May 19 '13 at 7:46
    
In my original post I meant to say that the -s is often dropped on the indicative... not the imperative =P –  Kage May 19 '13 at 7:53

¡Mira vos! Interesante como gente de otros países se interesa por aprender un poco de nuestro Rioplatense jajaja. Si vamos al caso el Rioplatense es una mezcla de idiomas, hay palabras que vienen de Italia como Laburo, Joda, Ñoquis, Pibe, Mina etc y otras que vienen del Catalán, Vasco, Gallego muy poco del español de Madrid. Tenemos diferencias marcadas no sólo por las palabras sino por los modismos, elegimos por excelencia el PASADO SIMPLE (ESTUVE EN RUSIA POR 5 AÑOS) no usamos el PRESENTE PERFECTO (HE ESTADO EN RUSIA POR 5 AÑOS), un tiempo FUTURO PROGRESIVO (Voy a estudiar Inglés el año que viene) en vez de usar un FUTURO SIMPLE (Estudiaré inglés el año que viene) SUENA MUY RARO DECIR ESO EN UNA PERSONA NATIVA DEL RIOPLANTESE. Mucha gente dice que el acento Rioplatense es coloquial, bueno definitivamente es coloquial con respecto a otros modismos pero acá no lo tomamos como coloquial sino como algo natural (vocear y hablar con jergas). También se destaca el yeismo y otras diferencias. Soy de Montevideo, Uruguay y soy Rioplatense a full me encanta escribir y hablar nuestro dialecto y que se expanda por el mundo entero jajajaja

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Bueno, aunque sea interesante, eso no me parece una respuesta a mi pregunta... Pero explícame algo por favor: ¿como puede ser que usan el pasado simple en vez del presente perfecto, cuándo los dos refieren a períodos diferentes de tiempo? Por ejemplo si dices "estuve en Russia por 5 años" significa que en el pasado pasaste 5 años en Russia, pero ahora no estás todavía allá - posiblemente volviste a Uruguay. Si dices "he estado en Russia por 5 años" significa que todavía estás allí; que llegaste hace 5 años y todavía no partiste. ¿O es que no entendí correctamente? –  caesarsgrunt May 30 '13 at 18:05
    
Ahí me equivoqué yo, porque tenia que haber puesto un punto por eso se mal interpreta. Lo que quise decir es que no usamos el presente perfecto en ninguna situación ustedes si lo usan y bastante –  user1595 May 31 '13 at 3:21

The voseo actually comes from the (formerly) polite version of addressing someone. It is originally formed with the second person plural. For some reason this 'polite' way has found its way into day to day speak in some parts of Latin America (this is actually very similar to English, where 'you' used to be only second person plural, but came into use as a polite way of addressing somebody which stuck around and has since replaced the original 'thou'), whereas in Spain they kept the original second person singular.

In Latin America the second person singular is thus formed as an 'eroded' second person plural, which took slightly different roots in different countries.

For example in Argentina (Rioplatense):

  • vos camináis -> vos caminás (the 'i' has been dropped)
  • vos decís -> vos decís (has stayed largely the same)
  • vos tenéis -> vos tenés (again the 'i' has been dropped)
  • ¡caminad! -> caminá (the 'd' has been dropped)
  • vos sois -> vos sos (the 'i' has been dropped)

In Chile:

  • vos camináis -> vo (tu) caminái (the 's' has been dropped)
  • vos decís -> vo (tu) decí (the 's' has been dropped)
  • vos tenéis -> vo (tu) tení (the 'e' and the 's' have been dropped)
  • ¡caminad! -> camina! (the original second person singular is kept)
  • vos sois -> vo (tu) soi (the 's' has been dropped)
  • vos tendréis -> vo (tu) tendrí (again the 's' has been dropped)

Further information about the voseo here

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That's interesting. So you would say that a more technically correct way to derive the vos form of a regular verb would be to drop the i from the vosotros form? –  caesarsgrunt May 28 '13 at 16:55
    
I find it interesting that Latin American Spanish uses vos but not vosotros, and peninsular Spanish the opposite, even though the two pronouns obviously share a root. –  caesarsgrunt May 28 '13 at 16:57
    
+1 That's the rule. If you know to conjugate the "spanish" second plural persons ("vosotros"), the Argentina "vos" follows the same pattern, dropping the 'i' en the diptongs and the 'd' at the end. –  leonbloy Jun 1 '13 at 1:16
    
@caesarsgrunt 'vos' and 'vosotros' are actually different: 'vos + sec. plural' is something like a pluralis maiestatis, i.e. it is a plural form to address a higher standing (e.g. a noble) person. If you read classic spanish literature (e.g. Don Quijote) you will find it used very frequently (Sancho Panza addresses Don Quijote using 'vos'). This form has been lost in vernacular european spanish, but survives (albeit with shifted social meaning) in Latin America. –  user2426172 Jun 3 '13 at 8:30
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@Wolfram, yes, I know the difference between vos and vosotros. What I said was that they must share an etymological root; presumably vosotros comes from vos otros like the US English you all. So it's interesting that Peninsular Spanish has stopped using vos; whilst American Spanish doesn't use vosotros. –  caesarsgrunt Jun 9 '13 at 14:41

@Kage, you've got it pretty much right. A few notes:

"Ustedes" in Argentina may or may not be formal, depending totally on context.

To complicate things a bit, the informal imperative of "ir" is "andá", but the formal way is "Vaya", as in Iberic Spanish. E.g., to say Go to the library you either use Andá a la biblioteca (informal), or Vaya [usted] a la biblioteca (formal).

@Caesarsgrunt You won't get in trouble using any style (rioplatense, mexicano, or español), it's more important to be consistent with the style than which one you pick. The only area where things get messier is with nouns for common things (durazno=melocotón, vereda=acera, cometa=barrilete=papalote, etc, etc, etc). Plus local jargons, of course.

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Ha, yes, I've come across quite a few different nouns already... I do understand the use of ustedes, I think; it is used as both the plural of usted and the plural of vos. I don't like it, but I guess its just because I'm not used to it. –  caesarsgrunt May 22 '13 at 5:27
    
Regarding not mattering whether I use rioplatense or peninsular Spanish, I have been humming and hawing over whether it is "better" to convert to vos or keep using tu. On the one hand it seems silly to adopt a localised variant when tu will be understood worldwide, on the other hand... Hey, I'm in Argentina, why not talk like the Argentinians? I was wondering how odd it sounds to the people here when I use Spanish Spanish - is it like a British person talking English English in the US, or is it like if I start saying "dost thou..."? –  caesarsgrunt May 22 '13 at 5:33
    
Yes, ustedes is our (Argentine) pronoun for the plural 2nd person conjugation, with no difference between informal (vos) and formal (usted). If you are in Argentina, people won't care that much about your style but it will help you master the language getting used to the local way. –  LexLythius May 22 '13 at 15:23

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