Nota Cultural: usted/tú

and usted both mean "you," but are used in different situations.

: Is used informally, among friends and family members. It is also used among younger people, whether they know each other or not. You may use with a colleague who is your own age and/or rank. You should always use with children. there are, however, cultural differences between countries. For example, South Americans generally use a more formal speech than Spaniards.

Look at the following conversation between a sister and brother. They address each other as .

Jaime: ¿Ya estás lista para continuar?

Jaime: Are you ready to go yet?

María: En un minuto. ¿Tú quieres ir a casa ya?

María: In a minute. You want to go home now?

Jaime: Sí, estoy cansado.

Jaime: Yes, I'm tired.

Usted: Is used in formal situations. It is used as a sign of respect for an older person, or in most professional settings. In the case of older people, they may follow your lead, or they may use . In a professional situation, usted should be reciprocal.

Look at the following conversation. Notice that when the colleagues are speaking together, they use , but when Victor calls their boss, he uses usted as a sign of respect.

Ramón: Tú debes llamar a la jefa para pregunarle cuándo necesita los papeles.

Ramón: You should call the boss and ask her when she needs the papers.

Victor: Buenos días, Sra. Menéndez. ¿Cómo está usted? ...Estoy aquí con Ramón y Sandra, y queremos saber cuándo usted necesita los papeles...Gracias...Sí...Buenas tardes.

Victor: Good morning, Mrs. Menédez. How are you? ...I'm here with Ramón and Sandra, and we would like to know when you need the papers...Thank-you...Yes...Have a good afternoon.


*** In a real-life situation if you are not sure which to use, the best thing to do is to wait for the other person to take the lead.

 

 

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