If I want to make a connection with someone, does using instead of Usted indicate that? Or would it be too forward if you do that too soon?

I understand this is probably region specific. I live in Costa Rica.

By "connection" I mean "I'd like to be friends", "You can use with me".

  • 2
    The question seems interesting, but I'm not sure what you mean with "make a connection". Do you mean approaching someone to try to sell something to that person? Or to try to flirt with that person? Or just ask him/her what time it is? I am afraid the purpose of the approach can change the answer, so maybe you should clarify your question and add more details to see if someone from Costa Rica can help you better.
    – Charlie
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 14:48
  • If, by make a connection you mean 'be friendly', then yes, I believe it is used like that Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 18:09
  • 2
    Costa Rica uses usted much more than elsewhere (often between parent and child, and even lovers). There may be some internal variation (I'm not from there nor have I spent much time there), but I would not risk using there without a very obvious native accent from -common country like Cuba or Spain so the tuteo isn't misinterpreted. As a non native speaker, you won't be crucified for messing up tú/vos/usted if it's obvious you're still learning, but it won't help you win over friends to use it too early Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 1:18
  • I just found this question that's directly related to mine: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/2121/… Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 19:25
  • Use usted if you want to fit in and sound more local. I grew up in costa rica and there are people that use tu but they are either foreign, girls and gays trying to be different... not being homophobic but its true.
    – Javier
    Commented May 17, 2020 at 20:10

3 Answers 3


I'm doing this an answer because it seems there are no one from Costa Rica and I think now is better to help instead of doing a perfect answer, also it doesn't fit in a comment.

First, Carlos Alejo and guifa gave good points in the comments, to specify the type of connection you are searching would help, and guifa gave you specific advice about the country.

As far as I know almost in all South America usted is used not only for formal relations, sometimes even conjugating the verbs with the second person both singular and plural, instead of using the third person. There are significant differences between countries though, so if there's no one from Costa Rica that can help you here, I'd try to observe how others in that country speaks to their relatives, your coworkers, a mother with her child in the street, that type of things.

You can directly ask someone in the same country too, you know, in the shop you buy the food, to your neighbour, one of you co-workers. I'm sure that you'll find people that will help you with it. Use usted to ask it so you ensure that you ask it politely and you'll be ok.
I've visited different countries in Europe and South America and I have never had problems asking that type of thing. Nowadays people are generally used to see and "coexist" with tourists, if you choose someone who know who you are (like a co-worker or a neighbour) or someone that his/her daily work is to speak with others (clerk, shop assistant) and of course you are polite (use usted), you will most probably be gladly answered.


Yes you can but take in account and vos are informal and usted is the formal version.

The meaning is the same, so you can replace tú/usted/vos.


That's region dependent. I think in Colombia is common to use usted almost always, even in the family (at least in Colombian films).

Now here in Cuba is almost impossible to listen usted. Instead of that if you want to be respectful in the street you say for example

¿me puede decir la hora? (can you tell me what time is it?)

and if you want to be colloquial you say

¿me puedes decir la hora?.

Note the difference in the verb poder declined puede that implicitly means usted puede or puedes that means tú puedes.

Now we latin people at least in Cuba are very relaxed with such thing, except for a very formal meeting you can use and nobody will be angry with you.

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