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Lessons for topic Singular

Tú, usted and vos

In English, when we talk with someone we use the second person singular pronoun ‘you’. In Spanish, we have three different options for that same pronoun: usted and vos. Which one we use depends on things like the relation that we have with the person we are talking to or the place where we are. Generally speaking, we use usted when we want to talk in a more respectful way with someone:

¿Usted qué... qué me recomienda, doctor?
What do you... what do you recommend to me, Doctor?
Caption 14, Los médicos explican - el tratamiento de las fracturas - Part 1

However, if you are following the Colombian series Los Años Maravillosos, you have probably noticed that people usually use usted even when talking with family members or close friends. Why? That’s just how people speak in Bogota, Colombia:

 ¿Y a usted qué le pasa, mi hijito?
And what's going on with you, my little boy?
Caption 35, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1 - Part 4

Regardless of its use, there is something quite unique about using usted:  we conjugate usted as we would conjugate él (he) or ella (she):

Él trabaja entre las nueve de la mañana
He works between nine in the morning
Caption 48, La casa - De Chus

¿Dónde trabaja usted?
Where do you work?
Caption 9, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16

As you can see in the captions above, the conjugation of the verb trabajar (to work) with él (he) and usted (you) is exactly the same (trabaja), something that doesn’t occur with  and vos:

Tú trabajas | You work
Vos trabajás | You work
Él/Ella/Usted Trabaja | He/She/You work

To wrap things up, we use usted as a second person singular pronoun. However, we conjugate it as a third person singular pronoun!
And don’t forget that this also occurs with the plural form ustedes (you all), which we conjugate as the third person plural pronoun ellos/ellas (they). Notice how ustedes and ellos share the same conjugation of the verb saber (to know) in the following captions:

Toda la vida he estado en el PAN, como ustedes saben, y he estado muy contento.
All my life I have been in PAN, as you know, and I have been very happy.
Caption 37, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 2

Ellos saben de los sitios que son hábitat de reproducción,
They know about the places that are reproduction habitats,
Caption 31, Instinto de conservación - Parque Tayrona - Part 2

That's it for now. If you want to learn more things about the use of usted and vos make sure to check out our series about Tuteo, Ustedeo y Voseo. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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