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I've noticed that the word Usted can be abbreviated at least 2 ways, the most common of which being Ud. and Vd. to my knowledge. I see how Ud. makes perfect sense, but why is a V used instead of a U in Vd. and Vds. ? Is one of the abbreviations more common in certain areas? I understand I should probably be consistent in which one I use in any given piece of writing, but is the choice of which one entirely up to my own personal preference?

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See – Jaime Soto Nov 30 '11 at 19:49
It's one of those things, like using español or castellano for the name of the language, in which you'll be wrong whichever you pick. – Peter Taylor Dec 1 '11 at 19:36
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Usted is a descendent of medieval Spanish Vuestra Merced, meaning "your mercy". It was an expression used to address upper classes in feudal Spain and evolved to be the general form of respectful address in the language in the seventeenth century or later.

The letters "u" and "v" — like the letters "i" and "j" — were written the same in Latin. The choice of consonant or vowel form was usually inferred by experience and context. Modern "v" (link) and "u" diverged by the sixteenth century, after "vuestra merced" was in place and only shortly before "usted" became popular.

As a result, the "Vd." and "Ud." abbreviations both remained common and still are today. "Vd." has a certain old-timey style I personally enjoy.

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So there is a difference in when each should be used, it just varies by region. Thanks! :D – Gordon Gustafson Dec 1 '11 at 23:48
The terms "Castilian" and "Castellano" are actually even fuzzier than that. They can be considered to refer to the local idiom in Castile. They are also used almost exclusively some countries including Argentina where you practically never hear people call their language español but they don't speak much like people from Castile or Spain... – hippietrail Dec 2 '11 at 16:02
"Castellano" describes Spanish contrasted with Portugese, Catalan, Arabic, and Aragonese, the most common tongues in Iberia before dictators Fred and Isabel got hitched, united Spain, and started the Inquisition 1469. "Cristiano" describes Spanish in contrast to Arabic. "Mexica" describes the Nahuatl language spoken by Aztecs that originates in Utah and New Mexico and has 5 million+ speakers in Mexico; it is unrelated to Spanish. Most Mexicans do like Spanish culture and most Americans do like English culture. Mexicans use both "Ud." and "Vd." "Vd." never follows "nosotros" in conjugation. – Brian Dec 3 '11 at 11:43
Colombia is a region in which both declined to phrase, Vuestra Mersed that says Sumersed – AlejoNext Aug 16 '12 at 5:55

"Usted" comes from the ancient Spanish word "vusted". The latter term is no longer used but its abbreviation "Vd" sometimes is. It's up to you which one to use.

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Which itself derives from "vuestra merced", I believe. :) – Noldorin May 4 '15 at 3:12

I have read about the Spanish language quite extensively and found that what the language that is spoke now in the world is castellano (Castilian). During the occupation of Spain by the Arabs, since 1000 to 1492, the language in the Spain region was dominated by the Arabs invasion. Unlike England, that during occupation of countries conquerors, the English language was somewhat reduced to nothing, in Spain, in Castilla, during the 500 years of siege, the pureness of the Spanish language was kept pure and flourishing. When the Arabs’ dominion is reduced, the enriched Spanish language is released and spread all along the world. This is la language brought to The Americas by travelers such as Cristobal Colon (1492) and others later. This is the reason why the Spanish language is called castellano. The word “Spanish” is a translation by English-speaking people. In South America the word “Español” and ”Spanish”, in reference to the language, is only used by people who have studied “English” which are not many, but there millions of millions in South America and the world who has nothing to do with English language. At school it is not taught “Español”, the course name is CASTELLANO. Spanish-speaking people ask “hablas castellano” instead of “¿hablas español?”

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But this has nothing to do with the question asked :-/ – Chewie Nov 27 '12 at 15:29
OK, now I see you wanted to add a comment to the first answer, not provide an answer. You need to click on the "add comment" link. – Chewie Nov 27 '12 at 15:31
Quite incorrect. Pureness? A good percentage of current spanish nouns are arab! 'Almohada' (pillow) is just the first that comes to mind... – Envite Dec 5 '13 at 21:52

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