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Soy un estudiante de español en los Estados Unidos de America. En mi clase, mi maestra enseñó que los españoles usan la palabra "vosotros" para situaciones informales, pero los latinoamericanos solamente usan "ustedes". ¿Por qué los españoles pero no latinoamericanos usan la palabra "vosotros"? ¿Cuál es la razón histórica de esta diferencia?

Nota muy importante: Mi lengua nativa es el inglés (y la lengua de mi padres, pero sé poco). Yo escribo mi pregunta en español para practicar español. Yo prefiero una repuesta en inglés porque yo solamente completo un año de español. Pero aceptaré con gusto la respuesta en español si usa palabras sencillas.

  • Some latin americans also use vos as a replacement of (2nd person singular). Welcome to this site! We hope you'll find it a wonderful learning resource. – Diego Aug 14 '15 at 18:30
  • @Diego - Gracias, por la bienvenida y por los correcciones. Es mi primera vez en el spanish language stackexchange, pero yo estoy activo en otras stackexchanges. Me gusta mucho aprender español. – Cicero Aug 14 '15 at 19:13
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Very interesting question @Cicero.

I would like to remark that the gradual extinction of vosotros started in western Spain, more specifically in cities like Cádiz, Huelva and Seville, all of them close to the western coast which has been an extremely important marketing route for centuries.

As a result, the Latin American Spanish is heavily influenced by these language variations (and many other variations like a similar pronunciation of the the letters s, c, z)

You might still ask yourself: Why vosotros is almost totally extinct in most of the Latin American countries? You might believe that it is used occasionally, in some situations but I can tell you for sure that, at least in México (25 years living here) that I have only heard latinos use vosotros like 3 times.

This is probably because of the cultural differences of each country, specially these key differences:

  • The Latin American culture is highly hierarchical

You can notice this on business settings, when talking to a group of people with a perceived higher rank.

Muchas gracias a todos ustedes por asistir a esta junta. - Many thanks to you all for assisting to the meeting.

  • Latinos way of speaking is very indirect, formal and non-confrontational

You can notice this on situations like accidentally bumping your shoulder with another pedestrian on a crowded street:

Ohh perdone usted, no lo ví! - Ohh sorry [you]. I didn't see you!

Or when challenging a point of view:

Me estás diciendo que estoy equivocado? [La contraparte responde] No para nada! Solo busco lo mejor para todos ustedes. - Are you telling me that I'm wrong? [The counterpart answers] No way! I just expect the best for you all.

Ustedes in turn is an abbreviation of "vuestra merced" which means "your mercy".

Vosotros comes from "vos" + "otros", almost literally "you all, the others"!

You can read the full story at the article EL USO DE USTEDES POR VOSOTROS EN ANDALUCÍA OCCIDENTAL from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, it is quite a long essay but it explains this phenomenon very well.

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    +1 Gracias por la explicación, particularmente por la perspectiva cultural, y por un razón histórica que los latinoamericanos no usan "vosotros". El artículo es muy bien, pero por unas palabras necesito usar traductor Google. Por la perspectiva cultural, tengo una pregunta más: por qué latinoamericanos usan "tú" y "usted" por una persona, pero solamente usan "ustedes" por gente. Es "vosotros" más informal que "tú". – Cicero Aug 16 '15 at 0:19
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    Es mi comprensión que gente usa la palabra "tú" y "vosotros" solamente por la situaciones informales con amigos que o parientes del mismo valor (por padres la palabra apropiado es "usted"). Es esta correcto? – Cicero Aug 16 '15 at 0:30
  • Yes you are correct, "tú" and "vosotros" are almost equal, both are for informal situations and to talk to family relatives as you mention. Bear in mind that "vosotros" is plural and "tú" is singular. The singular of "vosotros" is "vos" which is also almost extinct. – adelriosantiago Aug 16 '15 at 2:39
  • gracias por la aclaración. – Cicero Aug 16 '15 at 2:42
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    @adelriosantiago To be clear, vos is only extinct in Spain (in Castilian, at least, as obviously other languages like Galician/Asturian still use vos as their second-person plural pronoun), but not remotely so in Latin America. It's also been speculated that the retention of first-person vos in L.A. aided the loss of vosotros (and viceversa for Spain). – guifa Aug 16 '15 at 2:55
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Vosotros is the historical form, from Latin vos 'you (plural)'. Note the composition vos + otros, analogous to nos + otros > nosotros. Also note that in other peninsular languages it is like this: Catalan nosaltres (altres being just the Catalonian form = otros), nosaltres, etc.

  • +1 Gracias por la explicación. ¿Por qué la mayoría de los latinoamericanos no usan "vosotros"? – Cicero Aug 14 '15 at 19:11

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