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I lived for a while in Bolivia, and I noticed some people used "vos" instead of "" as the second person familiar singular pronoun. Which countries use "vos" instead of "", and are there any that use it nearly exclusively?

  • I think that also in some countries (mostly Central America) using 'vos' is disrespectful, mainly with family. It's more acceptable to use 'tú' or 'usted'. – user1087 Oct 25 '12 at 16:35
  • In Nicaragua..for people who deserve respect we use "usted" like your mom, boss or someone that you just met and looks older than you.. with people we have the same level like your brothers, sisters and your friends we use "vos". I would not say that vos is disrespectful..I think you use vos when you trust someone or you think you are in the same level. – cayerdis Nov 11 '12 at 21:42

14 Answers 14

23

According to Wikipedia's article on voseo, the geographical distribution can be split into three categories:

Countries where voseo is predominant:

  • Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica

Countries where both forms are used:

  • Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela

Countries where vos is practically out of use:

  • Spain, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Cuba

However, it is difficult to generalize based on country, and there are often differences from one region to the next. See the Wikipedia article for more details.

  • I've never heard voseo in southeast Guatemala. By reputation, there's at least one belt where it is common between Huehuetenango, Guatemala and Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, Chiapas, México. That's an isolated mountain region that could maintain its own historic diction among the minority that are native Spanish speakers. – Brian Nov 19 '11 at 5:45
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    @Brian, where in Guatemala you didn't heard voseo? I'm from here and I can confirm in every place I know in GT, from north to south and from east to west, people use voseo the same as tuteo. The general rule is: voseo is used betwwen men (unless they use "usted" as the second person to show respect/distance), also between relatives of the same age/generation and trusted friends regardless of gender. tuteo is used in male/female relationships, also by younger people to address their elders. conversations between women use any of the two forms at the choice of each pair. – jachguate Oct 26 '12 at 13:37
  • Just for the record, in México, saying vos is usual in some parts of Chiapas. – diegoaguilar Sep 6 '13 at 0:12
10

Spanish learners are often taken aback, not surprisingly, by the use of vos or "voseo" amongst Spanish speakers because we don't really learn about it in school in the U.S. because our neighbors in México don't really use it much except in a few areas down in Chiapas and Tabasco (*). We Spanish learners are so comfortable with "tú" and can recognize and use usted, but vos can seem like even more of a foreign language, as does it even to some native Spanish speakers.

So then, when traveling we hear people using "vos" and we realize, "hey, this isn't what I learned in School!!!" (Learning about voseo for me was as surprising as the day my teacher introduced the subjunctive in high school.) ¡¿Qué?!

Here is a really great article and very thorough chart from la Real Academia Española that really helped me to better understand voseo and where and how it is used:

FORMAS DEL VOSEO VERBAL POR PAÍSES

Here are some of the interesting tidbits the page touches on about voseo en different parts of Latin America:

"En Bolivia, Se usa el tuteo en el habla culta. El voseo es propio de hablantes de zonas rurales y de las clases populares urbanas" (*).

"En Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua y Costa Rica, el voseo es un fenómeno general en todas las clases sociales"(*).

"En Chile el voseo es un fenómeno general en el habla familiar y coloquial, sobre todo entre los jóvenes, mientras que en los registros formales se tutea" (*).

"El Perú es un país tuteante, aunque en el norte y en el sur —zonas limítrofes con áreas de voseo— el uso de tú coexiste con el de vos" (*).

"En la Argentina, el Paraguay y el Uruguay las formas de voseo son aceptadas sin reserva por todas las clases sociales" (*).

*http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=voseo

6

It is extremely important, when talking about word usage in Spanish, to avoid the general thought that every country has an homogeneous way to do so.

For example, here in Chile we use as the normal way, but, in some cases you want to sound a bit rude, and then use vos, pronounced like voh:

Y vos, qué te crees que eres? (And who do you think you are?)

At least, this is the use in central Chile.

I've visited central Argentina several times, and there they have a very widespread use of vos, along with their own way to conjugate the verbs in the second person singular (what lies beyond the scope of this question).

3

To add to other answers: bear in mind that, even in regions where "vos" is the norm (as in Argentina), "tú" is readily recognized and accepted as "neutral Spanish", so you won't have any problem at all if you use it. For example: young people in Buenos Aires would never use "tú" in normal speak, however they will find it natural in poetry, songs lyrics, "fansubs" (movies subtitles), movies dubs, etc.

  • 3
    And vice versa too. At least in the younger crowd in Spain, no one I've met has a problem understanding vos if it's used, either in the reverential (with vosotros conjugations) or the informal (with South/Central American conjugations), although they'd never use it naturally themselves. – user0721090601 Jun 26 '14 at 22:53
1

There is no answer to this, because in some counties like Argentina, some people use "vos" and some people use "tu".

1

I noticed my mothers family in El Salvador uses Vos excessively. My Salvadoran family here in the States uses vos and tu equally. I think tu might be a bit more formal. Whenever they're joking about they tend to use vos more. My Mexican family doesn't use vos at all. I once traveled from El Salvador to Mexico (I picked up the Salvadoran accent and dialect) and my Mexican family couldn't keep up with me.

1

Generally North/Central America and Caribe countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba use "tú".

South America countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina use "vos".

In Colombia vos is used mostly in the pacific coast states to talk with friends and relatives, but tuteo is also very common. Voseo predominates in the states of Antioquia, Risaralda, Caldas and Quindío.

  • Tu is definitely used in Central America. I've heard it as far north as Guatemala. It seems to be used differently to in Argentina though. – hippietrail Nov 16 '11 at 8:12
  • @rvs, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras heavily use vos and tu. Look my comment to the (jrdioko answer)[spanish.stackexchange.com/a/67/1067] about usage rule in Guatemala. The other countries have similar usage of both. – jachguate Oct 26 '12 at 16:15
0

I know that central america use both vos and tu. In Guatemala they use vos with friends and with girls they use "tuteo".

0

In Spain 'vos' is considered an archaic term from the medieval era and the American colonies. Nowadays it's only heard in old poetry where we want to refer to show reverence or politeness to somebody. As other users have said, in America is a different story. Countries such as Argentina, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica are predominantly 'vos' users.

0

I am Tico (Costa Rica). Vos is used almost exclusively, although is recognized and understood with no difficulty. Also, when conjugating in the past tense the Costa Rican vos incorrectly uses the form. For example, the correct conjugation for "caminar" should be "Vos caminastes," but in Costa Rica it becomes "Vos caminaste." I cannot speak for other countries, because although I have a pretty good idea where vos is predominantly used, I know little about the subtleties and regional differences (although I notice that hasn't stopped many people on this webpage from writing completely erroneous things as though they are fact).

  • You mean "Vos caminasteis"? Could then be used "caminaron" (like in "ustedes caminaron"). Should "vos" use 2nd or 3rd person of singular or plural? – Diego Mar 15 '15 at 15:28
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    Vos has a large number of conjugations depending on region (which is probably the reason why we don't teach it in US classrooms). The RAE only shows the Argentinian forms in its conjugator, but recognizes the diversity of forms in the DPD's article on voseo and in the Gramática. – user0721090601 Mar 15 '15 at 17:28
0

I studied Spanish in University in the USA, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. I learned to use voseo/tuteo simultaneously, but I still refer to people close to me in vos(voseo), even when I speak in tuteo I use the pronoun vos.

I prefer voseo and usted because of my connections to Central America/Middle part of Ecuador-Quito.

I currently live in Nicaragua and we use Vos and Usted all the time.

0

It's true that some decades ago usted was widely used in Spain. Perhaps the use of tu had something to do with the end of Franco's dictatorship. Just to clarify: We broke free from a one-party (fascist) to a democracy (where communist party became legal)

-1

There is no rule, and it is one of the most beautiful differences in the Spash language.

  • Spain: Tu/Usted (Formal)
  • Mexico: Usted/Tu
  • Central America: Usted/Tu
  • South of South America: Vos
  • Which countries are you meaning with: "South of South America"? I live in Chile and here not everybody uses vos. BTW, I've replied this question too with my point of view about this. – Nicolás Ozimica Nov 15 '11 at 22:19
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    You're wrong about Central America, where we use Tu/Vos/Usted all the time. – jachguate Oct 26 '12 at 16:19
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Countries like Spain don't use usted because when they broke free from a one-party (communist) government they wanted everyone to be the same so they referred to everyone as Tu because they felt if you used usted then that would mean someone is higher then someone else and they wanted everyone to be equal.

  • This does not answer the question. It wants to know about vos/tú usage, not tú/Vd. usage. – user0721090601 Oct 22 '14 at 0:02
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    I'm from Spain. we do use usted. This answer is completely wrong. – Diego Oct 22 '14 at 1:04
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    @Diego It also confuses los fachas con los comunistas. :( – tchrist Mar 16 '15 at 4:25
  • It's true that some decades ago usted was widely used in Spain. Perhaps the use of tu had something to do with the end of Franco's dictatorship. Just to clarify: We broke free from a one-party (fascist) to a democracy (and communist party became legal) – Ra_ May 25 '16 at 15:58

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