In Spanish usted = you.

However, in Spanish verbs are modified to show the second person.

For example,

have = tener
You have = tiene

As a result, the word usted is generally only used with a verb for emphasis.

In my Spanish textbook, it has the following examples:

1) you have 
usted tiene

2) Do you want a drink?
¿Quiere usted tomar algo?

3) Do you speak English? 
¿Habla usted inglés?

4) What do you do at the weekend?
¿Qué hace usted los fines de semana?

5) Are you going to have dinner?
¿Va usted a cenar?

6) Where are you from?
¿De dónde es usted?

In example 1, the word order follows English with “you” being placed before the verb. But in the other examples, the word order changes and “you” comes after verb. In the final example, you comes at the end (although that’s probably because it doesn’t have a verb).

What is the rule for word order when using Usted with second person verbs (and second person phrases)?

  • 1
    There isn't a strict word order. The subject can float around pretty freely. In the Caribbean, subjects tend to go in front of the verb for questions, whereas for others it goes after the verbs, often before complements, but sometimes at the very end depending on emphasis. Note, also, that usted is second person, but takes third person verbs and thus can cause ambiguity, so it will actually be used more than tú/vos/vosotros which are much clearer by the verb form. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 18:39
  • @guifa So does that mean in the examples, I could put you after the verb, and it would still be correct?
    – big_smile
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 18:44
  • 1
    In speech you could use almost any order as your intonation would give the clue as to whether it was a question, a statement, or something else.
    – mdewey
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:25
  • 1
    Examples 2 to 6 are questions. It is usual to reverse the order (S+V) in questions (V+S)... as English does.
    – Jdamian
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 14:45
  • 1
    Although that’s probably because it doesn’t have a verb In example 6 there is the verb TO BE/SER.
    – Jdamian
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 14:46

2 Answers 2


As explained in the comments, pronouns (usted included) can move around rather freely in Spanish, and can also often be dropped. All the following examples are gramatically OK and also natural (not forced), in a proper context; usted is said rapidly and with minimal stress:

  1. Tiene usted una llamada.
  2. Usted dijo que esperaba una llamada.
  3. ¿Llamó usted a la recepción?
  4. Usted tiene dos hijos, ¿verdad?

You can use subject usted even at the end of the proposition, but this is a marked position, i. e. it's not neutral, it's often said with a specific intonation (in bold in the examples) and means you're focusing on some detail:

  1. ¿Llamó a la recepción usted? (emphasis: place)
  2. ¿Va a llamar usted? (emphasis: whether or not call was made)
  3. ¿Va a llamar usted o llamo yo? (emphasis: alternative)

These last examples are how I speak, so they might be dialectal. Maybe other native speakers could chip in.


Maybe, if the sentence is interrogative, “Usted” goes after the verb,
and if the sentence is affirmative or simple, "Usted" goes before the verb.

  • Your answer seems to contradict the previous one. Can you edit it to expand on why you think what the rules are?
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 14:19

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