All About You: 5 Ways to Say "You" in Spanish and How to Use Each Correctly (2023)

All About You: 5 Ways to Say "You" in Spanish and How to Use Each Correctly (1)

By Stevie D. Last updated:

Here’s an easy trivia question: How many fingers do you have on your left hand?

That’s how many ways there are to say “you” in Spanish!

You can saytú,usted,ustedes,vosor vosotros.

And they all mean the same thing: You!

So what’s the difference? What’s the point of having five different ways to say the same thing?

Ah, that’s the catch: All those words might mean “you,” but they’re all slightly different. Which pronoun you use depends entirely on the situation.

Don’t worry! We’re here to clear things up.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look into every way to say “you” in Spanish, and we’ll learn when to properly use each one.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

How to Determine Which Spanish Form of “You” to Use

The idea of multiple ways to say “you” might be a strange concept for English-speakers. After all, we only have the one lonely “you,” which we use for, well, basically everything. So a class about how to say “you” in English would be pretty short: It’s “you.” Next lesson!

But in Spanish, there are five words that mean “you,” and the differences between them aren’t minor. Each word has a specific function in the language, and they’re often not interchangeable. Which form you use depends on:

  • The number of people you’re talking to
  • The specific dialect you’re speaking
  • The formality (or informality) of the situation

So when choosing which “you” to use, you’ll have to keep in mind whether you’re talking to one person or to many, whether you’re in Spain, Mexico or some other Spanish-speaking country and whether you’re addressing friends, acquaintances or people of a higher social status than you.

The first two are fairly straightforward, but the last one seems to have a lot of wiggle room. How do you know if a situation is formal or informal? Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

  • Age:Addressing somebody older than you? That’s a dead giveaway right there. You’d better show deference and use the formal “you.”

    If it’s somebody your own age, then you have more leeway. You can speak informally to those younger than you (unless they’re of a higher social status!).

  • Social status:If you’re speaking to your boss or anyone else higher up on the social ladder than you, then go formal. If it’s just your colleagues or friends horsing around, then informal is perfectly fine.
  • Social distance:If you’re talking to a complete stranger or even an acquaintance, then consider the situation formal. If you’re among friends, most of whom are passed out on the floor… then you can really say anything you like, can’t you?

If you’re having difficulty determining the most appropriate word to use, err on the side of caution and use the more formal version.

Still not sure? Try the “High-Five Test.”It’s a quick imagination exercise which helps determine whether the situation is formal or not. Look into your mind’s eye and imagine giving the other person a high five, out of nowhere. Just put it there and slap that hand.

How did that feel in your head? Did the other person even meet your palm? Or did he think you were going to strike him and protected himself instead?

Did it feel weird? Or totally normal?

If you can imagine high-fiving the other person without the least bit of awkwardness, then you can talk to them informally. If not, then it’s probably best to address them formally.

Two Important Things to Remember About “You” in Spanish

Zeroing in on the correct “you” form is crucial to being understood and not offending anyone. Here are two more really important facts to remember about these pronouns:

Different forms of “you” have different verb conjugations.

For example, the common expression “Have a nice day!” will be different depending on whether you’re using (informal) orusted (formal):

¡Que tú tengas un buen día!

¡Que usted tenga un buen día!

They both mean the same thing, but the accompanying verb forms depend on which “you” is being used in the sentence.

(Note: For discussion purposes, notice that we don’t drop the “you.” Many Spanish speakers often simply drop the pronoun altogether.So instead of saying,“Tú tienes suerte”[You are lucky], they simply say, “Tienes suerte,”which means the same thing.)

We all know that verb conjugation is a rich field, and luckily, there are plenty of available resources online for learning the ins and outs of it:

  • Learn the basics of Spanish verb conjugationwith FluentU.
  • For a quick conjugation cheat sheet, click the “Infographic” tab over atSpanish 411.
  • And for the whole shebang, Spanishdict has an excellent verb conjugator.Just type your verb, press “Enter” and you get the verb’s different conjugations in every tense that you can possibly imagine.

The “you” forms change depending on their function in the sentence.

Remember when I said earlier that there are five “you” forms in Spanish? Well, that’s the case when “you” is the subject of a sentence.

But as a pronoun, “you” can be placed at different points in a sentence and can function as a direct object, indirect object, the object of a preposition, etc. It’s pretty versatile!

In English, this doesn’t really matter because “you” is “you” is “you”—regardless of its function in the sentence:

You(subject) are beautiful.

The car hit you(direct object) at 90 mph.

Jake sent you(indirect object) flowers.

In Spanish, though, each of these situations calls for a specific form of the “you.”

Let’s takefor example. It changes intotewhen it’s used as an indirect or direct object and intotiwhen used as an object of the preposition:

Alguiente mandó florespara tu cumpleaños.(Someone sent you flowers for your birthday.)

Este flor es para ti.(This flower is for you.)

So the is actually a shapeshifter and changes depending on its function in the sentence. And this goes for the other four forms as well—usted, ustedes, vos, vosotros.

That said, let’s look into each of the five forms of “you” in Spanish and learn when to properly unleash them.

(Singular, Informal)

is used when you’re referring to a single personand they’resomebody you’re familiar with—a friend, a family member, a colleague, somebody younger than you or someone your own age.

If the other person’s seen you finish off a plate of spaghetti with your face, or if you’re talking toyour cousin who borrowed and never returned your “Back to the Future” DVDs, you can safely refer to them astú.

You can also use with pets, like when you say, “Tú eres mi vida”(You are my life) to your clueless cat.

is warm and engaging. It’s universally recognized in the Spanish-speaking world: Wherever you are, you can use it when talking to an individual you’re close with.

Oh, and don’t forget the accent mark on top of theu. It’s not there to make the word look more exotic.Tuwithout the accent mark means “your”… as in, “Your DVDs aren’t coming back.”

Usted(Singular, Formal)

Ustedis singular, liketú,which means it’s usedwhen you’re talking to just one person. The difference is thatustedis more formal than tú.

Use ustedas a sign of deference to people of a higher social status than you—your boss, elder members of your family, a government official, a teacher or a doctor (in other words, any person you respect and/or really wouldn’t want to upset).

Ustedis a fusion of the old phrase “vuestra merced,” which was used to address superiors in the 15th and 16th centuries. It means “your mercy” or “your grace.”

Ustedcan be used and is understood in most of the Spanish-speaking world.

Remember when I said to always err on the side of politeness? When you’re initially meeting a person, use usted.Say:

¿Cómo se llama usted? (What is your name?)

It’s better to start with ustedthan to assume familiarity and later have to walk back your tú.

If the other person thinks you’re being too formal, he’ll let you know by saying “Puedes tutearme,”which means you can use the form with them. It’s like your boss telling you, “Just call me John” after you’ve been “Mr. Smith-ing” his ears off.

Vos(Singular, Formal and Informal)

Here’s where things get fun. In some regions, instead ofdifferentiating between and usted,speakers simply use voswhen addressing an individual.Vosused to only replacebut it’s increasingly becoming accepted as a replacement forusted as well.

Voseo, or the use of vos,is used mainly in Latin America, in countries like Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and some parts of Chile and Central America.

One glaring exception for using vosis Spain, which doesn’t use the form.They think they’re too cool for it. (Kidding!)

Happy Hour Spanish hasa map of countriesin South America that employ vos. But honestly, the geographic distribution isn’t at all that tidy. It’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly which places use it because even in a single country, a region may be using vosand just a few miles north, up the mountain or down the valley, you might hearin conversation instead.

Remember that which form you use will change the verb’s conjugation. With tú, you’d say “Tú eres…”(“You are…”). With vos, you say “Vos sos…”, as in:

Vos sos muy bella.(You are very beautiful.)

Vosotros(Plural, Informal)

Vosotrosis used to informally address a group of people. It’s the “you” in plural form, like the “y’all” of a Texan drawl.

For example:

He preparado un pastel paravosotros.(I have baked a cake for you all.)

If the group you’re addressing is composed of women, it becomes vosotras. If you’re addressing a mixed or entirely male group, the masculine form,vosotros, is used.

Spain may not use vos, but it definitely uses vosotros. This time, it’s practically the only country that uses it.

Remember that although the different Spanish-speaking countries basically understand each other, it’s important to know beforehand which type of Spanish you specifically want to learn.

There are differences between dialects, regions and countries. So think of the people you’ll likely be conversing with in the future. Will they be from Spain, Mexico or South America? Plan your studies accordingly.

You can get an online tutor from the area, for example. You’ll not only learn the nuances from the region, you’ll also learn the most appropriate idioms, slang and insights into the culture.

Ustedes(Plural, Formal and Informal)

In Spain, they use vosotrosfor informal situations and ustedesfor more formal ones. But because Latin American countries don’t usevosotros,they just say ustedesfor both formal and informal interactions with groups of people.

Ustedesis for when you’re addressing two or more people, as in:

¿Quieren ustedes ir a la playa?(Do you guys want to go to the beach?)

Which, in landlocked countries like Paraguay and Bolivia, is akin to asking, “Do you want to go abroad?” It all just goes to show you: Context is everything!

Now you know five different ways to say “you” in Spanish! The Spanish language is rich like that. But don’t worry if it takes time to get the hang of the nuances. With practice, you’ll eventually get there.

Best of luck to you!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What are the 5 forms of to be in Spanish? ›

  • yo estoy.
  • vos estás.
  • él/ ella/ usted está
  • nosotros/ nosotras estamos.
  • ustedes están.
  • ellos/ ellas están.
Jun 4, 2020

What are other ways to say how are you in Spanish? ›

If you'd like to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish, you can use “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (informal/singular). If you are greeting someone in a more formal setting, you'll want to use “Hola, ¿cómo está?” (formal/singular).

How many ways are there to say you in Spanish? ›

In Spanish there are two ways of saying "you": There's the informal form, tú and the more formal usted (often abbreviated as Ud.) Whether you use tú or usted depends on a variety of different factors, but it can be a bit intimidating for English speakers used to addressing everybody as "you".

What are the 7 most used verbs in Spanish? ›

The top 12 most common Spanish verbs you'll want to learn are:
  • Hacer = To do or make.
  • Ir = To go.
  • Venir = To come.
  • Decir = To say or tell.
  • Poder = To be able.
  • Dar = To give.
  • Ver = To see.
  • Saber = To know.

How are you in Spanish answer? ›

When someone asks you ¿Cómo estás? If you feel alright, you say estoy bien; you could also say, estoy muy bien, to give more emphasis, which means “very good” or “very well.” You can also add one extra word, gracias, meaning “thanks”, and estoy bien, gracias; it means “I'm fine, thank you.” 2.

How do Mexicans say how are you? ›

The most basic greeting that you would use to ask “How are you?” to one person, in an informal setting, is: ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?) A slight variation on this greeting is ¿Cómo estás tú?

What is the difference between the 5 ways to say you in Spanish? ›

Here's an easy trivia question: How many fingers do you have on your left hand? That's how many ways there are to say “you” in Spanish! You can say tú, usted, ustedes, vos or vosotros. And they all mean the same thing: You!

What are the 6 personal pronouns we use in Spanish? ›

Which are the pronouns in Spanish?
  • Yo – I.
  • Tú – singular You.
  • Él – He; Ella – She.
  • Nosotros or Nosotras – We.
  • Ustedes – plural You.
  • Ellos or Ellas – They.

What are the 4 You commands in Spanish? ›

Imperative Mood (commands)
  • The imperative (imperativo) is used to give commands or orders. ...
  • There are four forms of the imperative: tú, usted, nosotros, and ustedes. ...
  • For the usted, nosotros, and ustedes forms, the imperative is formed using the corresponding forms of the present subjunctive.

What are the 4 vocabulary words phrases you can use to express how you are doing )? In Spanish? ›

This is probably one of the most basic phrases that people learn in Spanish and one of the first things you learn in Spanish courses.
  • ¿Qué más? ¿bien o qué?
  • ¿Todo bien? ¿qué cuenta pues?
  • ¿Quiubole? ¿Cómo vamos pues?
  • ¿Qué más parcero? ¿bien o qué?

What is the Spanish word for no? ›

Even if you're an absolute beginner, you likely already know these two basic Spanish words: sí (yes) and no (no).

What are the 5 types of verbs? ›

There are five basic types of construction of English verbs (as indicated above): intransitive verbs, linking verbs, mono-transitive (having one object), di-transitive (having two objects) and complex-transitive (having an object and a complement). An English verb may belong to one or more of the five types.

What are the 5 forms of all verbs? ›

Verbs can be said to have five forms in English: the base form, the present tense form (which may include the agreement ending -s), the past tense form, the present participle, and the past participle.

What are the 5 past tenses in Spanish? ›

There are five Spanish past tenses that are used in different situations. These tenses are the preterite, imperfect, past progressive, present perfect and past perfect. You will most often use the preterite and imperfect past tenses while the other three are less common, but still good to know.

What are the 23 main verbs? ›

To the tune of "Jingle Bells", he sang: Helping verbs, helping verbs, there are 23! Am, is, are, was and were, being, been, and be, Have, has, had, do, does, did, will, would, shall and should.

What are the 25 main verbs? ›

25 Most Common Verbs
  • be.
  • have.
  • do.
  • say.
  • get.
  • make.
  • go.
  • know.

What are the 10 verbs used? ›

The ten most heavily used verbs in the English language are be, have, do, say, make, go, take, come, see, and get.

How are you in slang? ›

What's up? This is an informal way or slang to ask a friend, “How are you?”. Asking a friend or close colleague, “What's up?” could give you a long or a short response. It could go: “What's up?” – “Nothing much, you?”.

What does mucho gusto? ›

Interjection. mucho gusto. nice to meet you, pleased to meet you synonym ▲ Synonym: encantado.

Does Que Pasa mean how are you? ›

= What's up?, What's going on? or What's the matter?

What do Mexicans say when mad? ›

Estoy molesto / molesta

The expression estoy molesto (I'm upset) is understood in all Spanish-speaking countries and is considered one of the most common Spanish expressions of anger.

How do Mexicans say no worries? ›

No te preocupes

This translates as “Do not worry” and it is probably the expression people in Mexico use the most, as it also means “No hay problema”.

What is the I Love You in Mexico? ›

Well, you've come to the right place. Let's start with the basics. I love you in Spanish is te amo. This is the most direct translation of “I love you” there is.

Is no Mames offensive? ›

No mames (literally means 'don't suck it') is one of the most ubiquitous Mexican swearwords.

How do you say OK in Mexico? ›


There's no literal translation for órale in English. Instead, it can mean one of a few different expressions, such as: “Okay”

What does Papi mean no mean? ›

Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish, but in many Spanish-speaking cultures, particularly in the Caribbean, it is often used as a general term of affection for any man, whether it's a relative, friend, or lover.

What are the 5 ER verbs in Spanish? ›

Common -er Verbs
aprenderto learn
beberto drink
comerto eat
comprenderto understand; to comprehend
correrto run
5 more rows

Does Vosotros mean you or you all? ›

In European Spanish, vosotros is a way of saying “you” plural in informal situations. It is by far the most common way to address multiple people when you're in Spain. In the singular form, the Spanish use tú. This becomes vosotros in the plural form.

What are the 5 types of pronouns give an example? ›

Other Types of Pronoun
Pronoun TypeMembers of the Subclass
Possessivemine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs
Reflexivemyself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves
Reciprocaleach other, one another
Relativethat, which, who, whose, whom, where, when
3 more rows

What are the 7 basic pronouns? ›

There are seven types of pronouns that both English and English as a second language writers must recognize: the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the relative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun.

What are the 13 Spanish pronouns? ›

That's why the complete list of all subject pronouns have 13 options: yo, tú, vos, usted, él, ella, nosotros, nosotras, vosotros, vosotras, ustedes, ellos, and ellas.

What are some Spanish commands? ›

Top 10 Commands to Use with Kids
  • Infinitive: Salir – Go out. Tú: Sal. ...
  • Infinitive: Traer – Bring. Tú: Trae. ...
  • Infinitive: Tener – Take/Hold. Tú: Ten. ...
  • Infinitive: Hacer – Do/Make. Tú: Haz. ...
  • Infinitive: Decir – To say/tell. Tú: Di. ...
  • Infinitive: Poner – Put. Tú: Pon. ...
  • Infinitive: Dar – Give. Tú: Da. ...
  • Infinitive: Ir – Go. Tú: Ve.
Jan 4, 2020

How do you use Spanish commands? ›

Formal Affirmative Commands

For -ar verbs, the process is simple. Cut off the infinitive -ar ending and add to the stem the third person present indicative tense -e ending for the -ir and –er verbs. For plural commands, add -en.

What are the 5 irregular negative commands in Spanish? ›

As always, there are a few irregulars in the tú negative command form:
  • S – ser  No seas.
  • I – ir  No vayas.
  • D – dar  No des.
  • E – estar  No estés.
  • S – saber  No sepas.

What are the 5 techniques you can use to find the meaning of unfamiliar words? ›

Try These Six Strategies for Tackling Unfamiliar Words
  • Break it up into pieces.
  • Look for context clues.
  • Make connections to other words you've heard.
  • Make connections to your own life.
  • Take a guess — even if it's wrong.
  • Look it up in a dictionary.
Nov 15, 2021

What are 5 positive words or phrases? ›

9 Powerful Phrases Super Positive People Always Say
  • I admire you. Super positive people are appreciative. ...
  • You can do it. Super positive people are supportive. ...
  • I value you. Super positive people are caring. ...
  • You can count on me. Super positive people are collaborative. ...
  • I believe in you. ...
  • You are kind. ...
  • I trust you. ...
  • You are smart.
Jun 12, 2015

What are the 8 common types of phrases? ›

Based on its function in a sentence, the phrases are divided into various types: 1) Noun Phrase, 2) Verb Phrase, 3) Adject Phrase, 4) Adverb Phrase, 5) Gerund Phrase, 6) Infinitive Phrase, 7, Prepositional Phrase, and 8) Absolute Phrase.

What does oof mean in Spanish? ›

puf {interj. } (expresando cansancio, sofocación) oof! (also: whew!)

What is pota in Spanish slang? ›

echar la(s) pota(s) (very informal) to puke (very informal) ⧫ throw up (informal)

Can Nada mean no? ›

Nada means "nothing." The kids next door will be disappointed if they learn that their lemonade stand has earned them nada. The noun nada is an informal way to say "zero." If you ask a deli worker how many plain bagels he has, and he answers, "Nada," it means they're out of your favorite kind.

How to ask a girl how is she doing? ›

While it may seem cliche, asking a woman how she's doing is a great conversation starter in public scenarios.
#7 Ask how she's doing
  1. How's your day going so far?
  2. How are you doin' today/tonight?
  3. What's the highlight of your evening?
  4. What's up? How are you?
  5. How's life treating you today?
  6. Hello Miss, how are you?

Are two ways to answer how are you? ›

The correct response is “Fine, and you?” That's it. Fine and you. Or some variation, like “Good, how about yourself?” Or “Doing fine, and you?”

How do you ask your crush out over text? ›

Our Advice on Asking Someone Out Over Text
  1. Start with a question.
  2. Ease into it.
  3. Don't be afraid to be funny.
  4. Be respectful of the time.
  5. Use full words.
  6. Don't corner them in.
  7. Always be polite.

What are the forms of to be in Spanish? ›

The two forms of "to be" in Spanish are Ser and Estar.

What are the six forms of Be? ›

be has 8 forms: be, was, were, been, being, am, is, are.

What are 10 sentences using estar? ›

Using Estar to Express Feeling
  • Estoy muy enojado. - I am very angry.
  • Mi padre y yo estamos ocupados. - My father and I are busy.
  • ¿Estás cansado? - Are you tired?
  • La casa está limpia. - The house is clean.
  • Mi habitación está ordenada. - My room is tidy.
  • La tienda está cerrada. ...
  • El niño está aburrido. ...
  • El niño es aburrido.

What are the 10 forms of ser? ›

Conjugate ser in the tense given.
  • Usted – future.
  • Ellas – past simple.
  • Tú – imperative, negative.
  • Nosotros – present simple.
  • Yo – conditional.
  • Él – past subjunctive.
  • Ustedes – present subjunctive.
  • Ella – imperfect.
Jan 18, 2023

What are the 6 uses of ser in Spanish? ›

SER is used primarily in situations to imply permanence, equivalence, characteristics, origin, nature, identity and possession ("My apple IS bigger than his", "Quito IS in Ecuador", "Ice IS cold", "He IS French", "This car IS mine". SER is an irregular verb.

What are 5 sentences using ir? ›

The importance of the verb “IR” (to go)
  • Voy al cine (I'm going to the movies)
  • Vas a ir a la escuela (You will go to school)
  • Ella va al gimnasio todas las mañanas (She goes to the gym every morning)
  • Vamos a la playa (We are going to the beach)
  • Ellos van a manejar (They are going to drive)

What are the 4 types of verbs in Spanish? ›

There are several different verb types in Spanish, including transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, pronominal verbs, reflexive verbs, and reciprocal verbs.

What are the 3 Spanish verbs? ›

First things first: there are three classes of Spanish verbs: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs. These are the infinitive verb endings (or dictionary form of the verb).

What are the 5 most common prepositions? ›

Prepositions are common in the English language. There are about 150 used with the most common being: above, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, down, from, in, into, near, of, off, on, to, toward, under, upon, with and within.

What are the 7 be verbs? ›

“To be” verbs are: are, am, is, was, were, been and being. They are used to describe or tell us the condition of people, things, places and ideas. For example, they could tell us the subject's age, nationality, job or other traits.

What are the 9 Be verbs? ›

Be verbs are am, are, is, was, were, been and being. We only only use be as to be.

What are the 50 most common verbs in Spanish? ›

The 50 Most Common Spanish Verbs
12 more rows
Sep 26, 2012

What are the 17 tenses in Spanish? ›

All the Spanish Verb Tenses
  • Indicative mood: Simple tenses. Present. Imperfect past. Simple past. Future.
  • Indicative mood: Perfect tenses. Present perfect. Past perfect. Future perfect.
  • Indicative mood: Progressive tenses. Present progressive. Past progressive.

What are the 6 ir verb endings in Spanish? ›

To conjugate -ir verbs in the present tense in Spanish, simply drop the -ir and add the following endings to the stem: -o, -es, -e, -imos, -ís, -en. Notice that él, ella, and usted share the same verb form in the singular, and ellos, ellas, and ustedes share the same verb form in the plural.

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