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I've noticed that the word Usted can be abbreviated at least 2 ways, the most common of which being Ud. and Vd. to my knowledge. I see how Ud. makes perfect sense, but why is a V used instead of a U in Vd. and Vds. ? Is one of the abbreviations more common in certain areas? I understand I should probably be consistent in which one I use in any given piece of writing, but is the choice of which one entirely up to my own personal preference?

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    See Etymology of “usted” – Jaime Soto Nov 30 '11 at 19:49
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    It's one of those things, like using español or castellano for the name of the language, in which you'll be wrong whichever you pick. – Peter Taylor Dec 1 '11 at 19:36
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Usted is a descendant of medieval Spanish Vuestra Merced, meaning "your mercy". It was an expression used to address upper classes in feudal Spain and evolved to be the general form of respectful address in the language in the seventeenth century or later.

The letters "u" and "v" — like the letters "i" and "j" — were written the same in Latin. The choice of consonant or vowel form was usually inferred by experience and context. Modern "v" (link) and "u" diverged by the sixteenth century, after "vuestra merced" was in place and only shortly before "usted" became popular.

As a result, the "Vd." and "Ud." abbreviations both remained common and still are today. "Vd." has a certain old-timey style I personally enjoy.

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  • So there is a difference in when each should be used, it just varies by region. Thanks! :D – Gordon Gustafson Dec 1 '11 at 23:48
  • The terms "Castilian" and "Castellano" are actually even fuzzier than that. They can be considered to refer to the local idiom in Castile. They are also used almost exclusively some countries including Argentina where you practically never hear people call their language español but they don't speak much like people from Castile or Spain... – hippietrail Dec 2 '11 at 16:02
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    "Castellano" describes Spanish contrasted with Portugese, Catalan, Arabic, and Aragonese, the most common tongues in Iberia before dictators Fred and Isabel got hitched, united Spain, and started the Inquisition 1469. "Cristiano" describes Spanish in contrast to Arabic. "Mexica" describes the Nahuatl language spoken by Aztecs that originates in Utah and New Mexico and has 5 million+ speakers in Mexico; it is unrelated to Spanish. Most Mexicans do like Spanish culture and most Americans do like English culture. Mexicans use both "Ud." and "Vd." "Vd." never follows "nosotros" in conjugation. – Brian Dec 3 '11 at 11:43
  • Colombia is a region in which both declined to phrase, Vuestra Mersed that says Sumersed – AlejoNext Aug 16 '12 at 5:55
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"Usted" comes from the ancient Spanish word "vusted". The latter term is no longer used but its abbreviation "Vd" sometimes is. It's up to you which one to use.

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  • Which itself derives from "vuestra merced", I believe. :) – Noldorin May 4 '15 at 3:12

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