I am American learning Spanish on Duolingo.

Trying to understand the difference between vosotros (they all) and ellos/ellas/Ustedes (they all)

Is vosotros informal, whereas ellos/ellas/Ustedes is formal.

  • 2
    vosotros and ustedes mean y'all; ellos/ellas means they Mar 21 '18 at 22:22
  • Ellos(as) is the only 3rd person plural. As for 2nd pl., in practice, it depends on regional variations more than anything else. In Spain you say vosotros cantáis while in Latin America you say ustedes cantan (confusingly enough, ustedes uses the same verb form as ellos.)
    – Rafael
    Mar 21 '18 at 23:13
  • @walen - People who are already in the know can see that the answer can be found on the referenced page. But for a confused beginner, I think we should go ahead and try to clear up their specific confusion. Mar 22 '18 at 3:40


Vosotros is the plural informal "you" in some countries. In other countries, instead of vosotros, people say "ustedes."

But in all countries, the plural formal "you" is "ustedes."

You should pick the regional variant you want to concentrate on learning, and stick consistently with that; and make sure that your learning materials match up with your target variant.

Conjugating verbs

How do you conjugate a verb with "ustedes"? Exactly the same as for ellos/ellas.

That's why, when you read a conjugation table, you'll see ustedes listed in the same section of the table as ellos/ellas. But the meaning is different, as explained above.


Informal plural you

  1. Countries that use vosotros:

Pablo y Carmela, ¿vosotros queréis acompañarnos? | Do you (plural, informal) want to come with us?

  1. Countries that don't use vosotros:

Pablo y Carmela, ¿ustedes quieren acompañarnos? | Do you (plural, informal) want to come with us?

Formal plural you

All countries:

Don Roberto, ¿usted y su esposa quieren acompañarnos? | Do you (plural, formal) want to come with us?


Manuel y sus hermanos quieren acompañarnos. | They want to come with us.

Note. If you want to communicate with people in or from Spain, learn vosotros. Otherwise you can skip it. For more details about vosotros regions, see Is Spain the only country that uses "vosotros" for "you all"?.


the confusion might arise from the fact that, meanwhile "usted/ustedes" is the formal pronunciation of the second person pronoun(you), is conjutated the same way as the third person(he/she/they) "el/ella,ellas/ellos".

so to begin i will explain how the second personal pronoun (you) works in Spanish

from the less formal to the most formal:


this is the less formal use, you would use it in casual conversation , can be exchanged with you. additionally, this pronoun is only used by regions and has been totally removed from some countries: reference : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voseo#Geographical_distribution, countries that have discarded this pronoun will use "Usted/Ustedes" instead, it has its own conjugations

Tu (doesn't have a plural form)

this is the most commonly accepted and used pronoun for the second person globally, it is also used for causal conversation but it adds a level of cordiality that you would use for people close to you, it has its own conjugation


highest level of formality, you would use it with people you respect, regions where the "vos" has been discarded will use this to address strangers with respect, it doesn't have its own conjugation, it will use the same conjugation as the third person (he/she/they) - el/ella, ellos/ellas

  • vos is informal and not substitutable for usted — countries that don't use vos will use for it. Mar 22 '18 at 19:58
  • Check the above answer: the level of informality where "vos" is used does not exist in the countries where "vos" has been discarded. Instead they will use "Usted" to address strangers.
    – Mike
    Mar 22 '18 at 20:46
  • Everybody uses usted to address strangers with the exception of maybe Spain and Cuba where you can find between people of a good +/- 15 years. Any country that doesn't use vos (you) uses (you) instead, with usted (you) as the formal variant. Only two-three countries use vosotros (y'all) —only Spain and Equatorial Guinea, plus Western Sahara, use it— with ustedes (y'all) as the formal variant. In all other countries, the only word for y'all is ustedes. I think you're confusing vos with vosotros (no one uses them both) Mar 22 '18 at 21:52

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