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All About "You" in Spanish: The Many Ways to Say It

How do you say "you" in Spanish? In contrast to English, where "you" just say "you," there are a plethora of different ways to say this in Spanish, which we'll explore today. 

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Spanish Subject Pronouns for "You"

Subject pronouns in Spanish (e.g. yo (I), (you), él/ella (he/she), etc.) are the most basic way to say "you." While in English, "you" is the only second person subject pronoun, in Spanish, there are five different ones, and the one you choose will depend on such factors as whether you are addressing one or more than one person, if the situation is more or less formal, and what region you are in. Let's take a closer look. 

 

1.

Simply put, tú means "you" for speaking to just one person in less formal situations, such as speaking to someone you already know. This is the most common familiar second person subject pronoun in most Spanish-speaking countries.

 

hablas obviamente muy bien el español, pero

You obviously speak Spanish very well, but

Caption 10, Carlos y Xavi Part 4 Tradiciones y comida de Barcelona

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2. Vos

Vos is used in a similar fashion as tú in certain countries/regions. It is heard predominantly in Argentina and Uruguay but also in certain areas of Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Venezuela. 

 

¿Y vos hablás de mí?

And you talk about me?

Caption 51, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 11

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3. Usted

Usted is used to address just one person in more formal situations. Examples might be when you don't know someone and wish to be polite or, perhaps, when addressing an elder. 

 

¿Usted habla del ganso ese? -Sí.

Are you talking about that goose? -Yes.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava 1 Piloto - Part 10

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4. Vosotros/Vosotras

Vosotros and vosotras are employed to address more than one person informally and are thus the plural equivalent of . Vosotros is used for a group of all males or a mixed male-female group, while vosotras is used for more than one person when everyone is female. Vosotros and vosotras are only used in Spain. 

 

Vosotros habláis.

You [plural] speak.

Caption 11, Fundamentos del Español 7 - Ser y Estar

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5. Ustedes 

Ustedes is used in all Spanish-speaking countries except Spain as the only plural form of saying "you," regardless of formality. However, in Spain, it is used more formally as the plural equivalent of usted (to distinguish it with the less formal vosotros/as). 

 

Y es que hay muchas diferencias entre la forma en que ustedes hablan el español

And it's just that there are a lot of differences between the way in which you guys speak Spanish

Captions 44-45, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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All of the aforementioned subject pronouns in these clips have been translated as "you" with the exception of the last one, which was translated with the informal "you guys" to emphasize that it is directed to more than one person. However, it would be perfectly acceptable to translate ustedes as merely "you" since English often employs this pronoun to address multiple people.

 

For an abundance of additional information on these five subject pronouns for "you" in Spanish, we recommend Carlos' five-part video series on the Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo

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Verb Conjugation 

As you may have noticed in the examples above, all of which contain the simple present form of the verb hablar (to speak), the form of "you" utilized affects the verb conjugation. Although this happens in every verb tense in Spanish, let's start by taking a look at the simple present tense conjugations of three common Spanish verbs with their various "you" forms highlighted. 

 

Personal Pronoun Hablar Comer Subir
Yo  hablo como  subo
hablas  comes  subes
Vos hablás comés subís
Él/ella habla come sube
Usted habla come sube
Nosotros/nosotras hablamos comemos subimos
Ellos/ellas hablan  comen suben
Ustedes hablan comen suben
Vosotros/vosotras habláis coméis subís

 

You will note that the verb conjugations for all of the five forms of "you" in Spanish differ from one another. Additionally, the conjugation for usted is the same as the conjugation for the third person singular él/ella (he/she) while the conjugation for ustedes is the same as the third person plural conjugation for ellos/ellas (they). Additionally, the conjugations for vos and vosotros/as are the same for -ir verbs.

 

Remember that in Spanish, you don't necessarily need to explicitly say the subject pronoun in order to know which one is in use because the verb tenses themselves make that clear. That said, let's examine a few examples with different forms of "you" and the verb saber (to know). 

 

¿Sabéis qué es un volcán?

Do you know what a volcano is?

Caption 18, Aprendiendo con Silvia Los volcanes

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Ay, ¿sabes qué?

Oh, you know what?

Caption 21, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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¿Sabe que no me parece suficiente?

Do you know that it doesn't seem like enough to me?

Caption 62, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 3

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Despite the absence of subject pronouns, you can tell from the verbs' conjugation that the first example refers to vosotros, the second example refers to , and the third example refers to usted, and for this reason, all three have been translated with "you know." While the third example could technically refer to él or ella as well since the conjugations for all three are the same, the context (one person speaking directly to another rather than talking about anyone else) alerts you that the speaker is addressing the other person as usted

 

Alternative "You" Pronouns in Spanish

Subject pronouns are not the only way to represent the word "you" in Spanish. Other types of Spanish pronouns (direct object, indirect object, and prepositional) also mean "you." Let's see which of each of these types of pronouns correspond with which "you" subject pronouns:

 

Subject Pronoun Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun Prepositional Pronoun
te te ti
Vos  te te vos
Usted lo, la le usted
Ustedes los, las les ustedes
Vosotros/as os os vosotros/as

 

While we won't delve too deeply into these topics, we will provide a brief summary of each of them and give you some examples.

 

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns take the place of the direct object (the recipient of an action) in a sentence and answer the question of "what" or "who." Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Vale, no... no os veo... no os veo con mucha...

OK, I don't... I don't see you... I don't see you with a lot...

Caption 39, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 3

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Los veo en el próximo video.

See you in the next video.

Caption 44, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

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In both examples, the translation of the direct object pronoun is "you." In the first, os takes the place of vosotros, and in the second, los takes the place of ustedes

 

Indirect Object Pronouns

Indirect object pronouns answer the question "to who/whom" or "for who/whom" an action is carried out. Let's take a look:

 

De verdad, yo le doy la plata que tengo ahí;

Seriously, I'll give you the money I have there;

Caption 25, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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Otra recomendación que les puedo hacer es que traigan zapatos para el agua,

Another recommendation that I can give you is to bring water shoes,

Captions 35-36, Alan x el mundo Mi playa favorita de México! - Part 2

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In the first example, le lets you know that the speaker will give the money "to" usted, while in the second, the recommendation is being given "to" ustedes. While the indirect object pronouns in these two captions have been translated with simply "you," the translator might also have opted for "I'll give the money I have there to you" and/or "Another recommendation that I can give to you is to bring water shoes."

 

To learn more about indirect and direct object pronouns, check out this two-part lesson on How to Use Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns.

 

Prepositional Pronouns

Prepositional pronouns are pronouns that follow a preposition (words like para (for), de (of, about), en (in, about), etc.) in a sentence. 

 

Este libro es para ti. Este libro es para vos.

This book is for you. This book is for you.

Captions 47-48, Carlos y Cyndy Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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y hoy, he preparado para ustedes estos objetos

and today, I've prepared these objects for you

Caption 3, Ana Carolina El uso correcto de los adjetivos

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Interestingly, ti is the only prepositional pronoun meaning "you" that differs in form from its corresponding subject pronoun.

 

We hope that this lesson has made clear the many different ways that Spanish expresses the concept of "you." That's all for today... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!)

Today's lesson will highlight clips from our Yabla Spanish library to teach you some pertinent terms to talk about many people's favorite holiday... Halloween!!! So get ready, and enjoy this lesson about Halloween in Spanish!

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How do you say Halloween in Spanish?

Although Halloween is primarily thought of as a North American holiday, its fun festivities have been adopted by many countries throughout the world. When we speak about Halloween in Spanish, we typically keep its English name:

 

Esta noche es Halloween y seguro que muchas veces habéis pensado disfrazaros con vuestra mascota

Tonight is Halloween and surely you've thought many times of dressing up with your pet

Captions 137-138, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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This caption describes the common Halloween costumbre (custom) of disfrazarse (dressing up). You'll note from the previous sentence that costumbre means "custom" or "tradition" rather than "costume" as you might think, making it somewhat of a false cognate. On the other hand, the correct way to say "the costume" in Spanish is el disfraz.

 

Ay, Aurelito, ¿me prestarías un disfraz?

Oh, Aurelito, would you lend me a costume?

Caption 32, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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What other vocabulary words might we associate with Halloween? We might start by reviewing some Spanish vocabulary for the autumn season since Halloween falls at that time of year. We could then move on to some of Halloween's personajes más espeluznantes (spookiest characters).

 

Halloween Characters in Spanish

Let's look at some video clips that include the names of some of the most typical Halloween characters:

 

¿Quién no ha querido a una diosa licántropa

Who hasn't loved a werewolf goddess?

Caption 5, Shakira Loba

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porque sí sé... ahí está el monstruo.

because I know... here's the monster.

Caption 29, Antonio Vargas - Artista Comic

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El fantasma y la loca se quieren casar

The ghost and the madwoman want to get married

Caption 24, Gloria Trevi Psicofonía

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En la época, eran utilizadas para espantar las brujas 

In the era, they were used to scare away witches

Caption 46, Viajando en Colombia Cartagena en coche - Part 2

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And speaking of espantar (to scare away), let's look at some additional Spanish words that mean "to scare," "be scared," or "scary."
 

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"Scary" Halloween Terms

To Scare:

Let's look at another verb that means "to frighten" or "scare": 

 

o cuando hay una fecha importante, ellos salen... a divertir y a asustar a la gente porque están como unos diablos.

or when there is an important date, they go out... to amuse and to frighten people because they're [dressed] like devils.

Captions 45-46, El Trip Ibiza

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And, in addition to asustar, we learn the word for another Halloween character: un diablo (a devil). Let's see another verb that means "to scare": 

 

¡Me da miedo! -¡Ahí te tienes que quedar, ya está!

It scares me! -There you have to stay, ready!

Caption 24, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

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Note that the noun el miedo means "the fear," and the verb dar miedo (literally "to give fear") can thus mean either "to scare" or "be scary." When employed in conjunction with an indirect object pronoun to indicate to whom this action is happening (le in this case, which corresponds with usted), the most common translation is "to scare," as we see in this caption. 

 

To Be Scared:

So, what if we want to say that we "are" or "feel scared"? A common verb for this is tener miedo (literally "to have fear"), as seen in this caption with the Halloween-appropriate noun la oscuridad (the dark/darkness):

 

¡Porque le tiene miedo a la oscuridad!

Because he's afraid of the dark!

Caption 24, Guillermina y Candelario El parque de diversiones - Part 2

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The reflexive form of asustar, asustarse, also means "to be" or "get scared":

 

Aparecieron unos cazadores, y el patito se asustó mucho

Some hunters appeared, and the duckling got really scared

Caption 36, Cleer El patito feo

 Play Caption

 

Yet another way to talk about being "scared" in Spanish is with adjectives like asustado (scared) or aterrorizado (terrified): 

 

Llegan muy asustados, muy aterrorizados,

They arrive very scared, very terrified,

Caption 25, Los Reporteros Caza con Galgo - Part 3

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For more on the ways in which verbs, adjectives, and nouns can be used to describe our feelings, be sure to check out our lesson on expressing emotions in Spanish

 

Scary:

Let's conclude this section with a few ways to express the concept of "scary":

 

¡Uy, qué miedo!

Oh, how scary!

Caption 21, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Literally meaning "What fear!" the Spanish expression ¡Qué miedo! is a common way to say "how scary" something is. We can also use our previously-mentioned verb dar miedo (this time without the indirect object pronoun) to convey the idea of "being scary":

 

Eh... Sí. Lo desconocido siempre da miedo.

Um... Yes. The unknown is always scary.

Caption 13, Yago 13 La verdad - Part 8

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We can also say "scary" with adjectives like escalofriante, sinestro/a, or miedoso/a:

 

¿Y esa calavera tan miedosa?

And that very scary skull?

Caption 20, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

And with the word for "the skull" in Spanish (la calavera), we come to our last category: Halloween objects! 

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Halloween Objects 

If we know how to say "skull," we had better find out how to say "skeleton" in Spanish:

 

con una forma parecida a la del esqueleto de un dinosaurio,

with a shape similar to that of a dinosaur's skeleton,

Caption 30, Raquel Valencia - Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

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So, where might we find such esqueletos? Why, in their tumbas (graves) in el cementerio (the cemetery) of course!

 

en Ricardo, en su tumba en el cementerio,

about Ricardo in his grave in the cemetery,

Caption 28, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 8

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So, let's set the scene in that cemetery with a "full moon" in Spanish, which might inspire some hombre lobo (another word for "werewolf") to come out:

 

la luna llena Por los cielos azulosos, infinitos y profundos esparcía su luz blanca 

And the full moon In the bluish skies, infinite and profound, scattered its white light

Captions 11-12, Acercándonos a la Literatura José Asunción Silva - "Nocturno III"

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Now, let's focus on some slightly less ominous symbols of Halloween such as el gato negro (the black cat), seen in its diminutive form in the following caption:

 

También está este gatito negro

There's also this black kitty

Caption 73, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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The "pumpkin" is, perhaps, the most famed Halloween symbol of all:

 

Justo en el doblez del papel, trazamos la mitad de la calabaza.

Right on the fold of the paper, we draw half of the pumpkin.

Caption 67, Manos a la obra Papel picado para Día de muertos

 Play Caption

 

And finally, we associate Halloween with trick-or-treating, or going door to door to get "candy":

 

Y ahora cortamos pedacitos de caramelo.

And now we cut little pieces of candy.

Caption 38, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

 Play Caption

 

The way to say "Trick or treat!" varies from region to region, but some popular ways are: "Dulce o truco" in Argentina, "Dulce o travesura" in Mexico, and the more literal but less accurate "Truco o trato" (from the verb "tratar," or "to treat") in Spain, where they also say "Dulce o caramelo." In Colombia, you might hear "Triqui, triqui," where kids sing the following song:

 

Triqui triqui Halloween/Quiero dulces para mí/Si no hay dulces para mí/se le crece la naríz,

which translates as:

Trick or treat, Halloween/I want treats for me/If there are no treats for me/Your nose will grow.

 

Meanwhile, Pedir dulce o truco/travesura, etc. can be used to talk about the action of  "trick-or-treating."

 

Halloween Vocabulary in Review

Let’s conclude today’s lesson with a review of the Halloween vocabulary we have learned:

 

el Halloween: Halloween

¡Feliz Halloween! Happy Halloween! 

difrazarse: to dress up 

el disfraz: the costume 

la costumbre: the custom, tradition

el personaje: the character

espeluznante: spooky

el/la licántropo/a: the werewolf

el hombre lobo: the werewolf

el monstruo: the monster

el fantasma: the ghost

el/la loco/a: the madman/madwoman

la bruja: the witch

el diablo: the devil 

espantar: to scare away

asustar: to scare 

el miedo: the fear

dar miedo: to scare/be scary

tener miedo: to be scared

asustarse: to be/get scared

asustado/a: scared/frightened

aterrorizado/a: terrified 

escalofriante: scary

siniestro/a: scary

miedoso/a: scary

¡Qué miedo! How scary!

la oscuridad: the darkness/dark

la calavera: the skull 

el esqueletothe skeleton

la tumba: the grave

el cementerio: the cemetery

la luna llena: the full moon

el gato negro: the black cat

la calabaza: the pumkin

el caramelo: the candy

¡Dulce o truco/travesura/caramelo! Trick or treat!

¡Truco o trato! Trick or treat!

¡Triqui triqui! Trick or treat!

Pedir dulce o truco/travesura: to go trick or treating 

 

We hope you've enjoyed this lesson about Halloween in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments. 

 

¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!).

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Tres verbos amigos

The basic meaning of the verbs aplastar and aplanar is "to flatten." You will hear many Spanish speakers using these as synonyms, though aplastar is way more common. There's a subtle difference, however, between these two verbs, since aplastar may imply a more drastic action and is sometimes better translated as "to crush," while aplanar involves a more controlled and careful activity. So, for example, you want to say aplasté a la cucaracha (I crushed the cockroach) rather than aplané a la cucaracha (I flattened the cockroach), right? In a similar (but less icky) way, our friend Meli prefers to use aplanar when giving instructions for her crafty projects:
 

aplanas para que quede uniforme.

And you flatten it so that it's even.

Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Postres de Minecraft

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The following example is enlightening, for it shows how aplastar may be okay for smashed potatoes but not for picatostes (croutons):

 

Cuando le das con el cuchillo se aplasta.

When you stick it with the knife, it flattens out.

Caption 96, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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As we mentioned before, aplastar is more frequently used than aplanar, especially when used figuratively, and so you can find several videos using aplastar in our catalog. Here's one example:
 

...y no dejándose aplastar por el poder del día.

...and not letting the power of the day crush you.

Caption 26, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - En campaña

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But there's a third verb that is close to aplastar and aplanar. It's a funny-sounding word (and one with a very polemic etymology by the way: here's a good article about it) that's perfect for crushing gooey, crunchy bugs because its sound is actually reminiscent of squeezing/smashing. We are talking about the verb apachurrar (to smash, to crush). A purist would say that Meli is not being extremely precise with language by using apachurrar in the context of making crafts:
 

Ya que tenemos una esferita como ésta,

Now that we have a little sphere like this one,

la vamos a apachurrar.

we are going to press it down.

Captions 41-42, Manos a la obra - Borradores y marcatextos

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You can see that she actually pressed down the little sphere quite gently, so maybe using aplanar or even aplastar would have been more accurate to describe what she is doing. But hey, who wouldn’t want to say apachurrar when you have mastered rolling your R's as nicely as she has!
 
You may have noticed that all three verbs, aplanaraplastar, and apachurrar, start with the prefix a-. This is because they belong to a group of Spanish verbs (verbos parasintéticos) that are created by adding the prefix a- or en- to nominal or adjectival forms. Some common examples are enamorar ("to fall in love" or "to inspire love"), apasionar (to be passionate about), encarcelar (to incarcerate) and atemorizar (to frighten). One verb in this group is alisar (to make smooth or straight), which has some resemblance in meaning to the verbs aplanar, aplastar, and apachurrar:
 

Además me acabo de... de alisar el cabello.

Besides I just finished... straightening my hair.

Caption 44, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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This is the end of this lesson. But ¡no te apachurres, no te aplanes, no te aplastes! ("Don't get depressed," get it?) We have many more lessons on the site!

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