I have close Spanish friends who use "vosotros" when addressing me and my husband. As I speak Mexican Spanish, I never learned this form of "you-all" and use "ustedes" instead. Is this impolite? Do my Spanish friends think I am trying to keep a distance between us? And is it wrong for me to address children as "ustedes"? Must I go back to school and learn the vosotros conjugations?

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    @walen no me parece un duplicado ya que esta pregunta es sobre ustedes en plural y en la otra solo se habla del singular.
    – rsanchez
    Aug 15 '19 at 21:11
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    even thought they are not asking the same question, the answer from the other one answers this one as well, about how to use usted vs vos in spain
    – Mike
    Aug 15 '19 at 21:33
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    I don't think it's a duplicate. // Judy, I think this answer will help you: spanish.stackexchange.com/a/22491/9385 Aug 16 '19 at 3:14
  • @walen I don't think it's a duplicate. This question specifically refers to the perception of the other forms and need to change Aug 16 '19 at 3:40

The issue of second person pronoun usage is something that often comes up with speakers across the Spanish speaking world. Even in countries where the only three are tú/Vd/Vds, the customs of using each one will be different, and adding in vos, sumercé and vosotros just adds more options: the underlying "problem" is the same.

The reality is, however, that most Spanish speakers are somewhat accostumbed to this. If I hear a Costa Rican call me usted, I don't necessarily assume much by it, just as when they hear me call them they tend to understand by my very different accent that I'm not used to the same formality distinctions as they are. As a foreigner, you will be given even more latitude. There are many other elements of speech — word choice, single pronoun usage, etc— that can help a Spanish speaker understand whether you are intending to be offensive/polite/friendly/etc.

Specifically in your example, if you regularly use with your friends individually, but then use ustedes for both, there will be no confusion: it's clear that you're using an ustedes-only dialect, and by virtue of using that you intend to be friendly/familiar with them.

You won't be expected to modify your dialect, and that's common across the Spanish-speaking world, although if you live for an extended period of time somewhere with a different system it might not be a bad idea to try to pick it up.


As you may already know, 'vosotros' is the informal treatment for the 2nd person in plural.

It is not impolite (doing the opposite, using vosotros in a formal scenario, might be).

I don't think you must go back to school and learn vosotros, and it would be just fine to learn it as you go.

  • Thank you for your answer! Aug 15 '19 at 20:18

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