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How to address other Spanish speakers, Formal or Informal?

Lmccue

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Del Norte to Primitivo 2023, Fisterra 2023
I'm reviewing my Spanish (learned in high school) in the hopes of communicating effectively while on the Camino. One book does not cover the 'tu' form of the verb because as the book says "as a visitor, you will never use it". Another reference book only gives the 'tu' form of address and never mentions the 'usted' at all. Can someone help me out here? How should I talk to people on the Camino - formal or informal?
 
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Informal in most cases.

Formal by exception -- if you are addressed formally, respond so ; if you can see that those whom you are talking with deserve proper dignity, formally ; if you are in one of those rare but not impossible situations whereby you personally become a representative of pilgrims generally, then formally.

And so on.

But in most cases, unless you happen to be classically educated in literary Spanish and find that to be more elegant, informal in 95%+ situations.
 
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I too would like to know the real answer to this question. Even after six weeks on the Camino from September to November last year I'm still not sure.

I usually began with "Puedes ayudarme..."
I was ready to use, if necessary, "Puede usted ayudarme..." but it never really seemed required.
I often used a mixture of Spanish vocabulary with English grammar, for example: "Estoy buscando por..."

What I found was that everywhere I went the people were so very very kind and helpful with my attempts to communicate. My pronunciation and grammar was almost always wrong but everyone was so patient. When a local would express surprise that an American could speak some Spanish, I was ready to continue the conversation with: "¡Los niños in California estudian español porque estamos circa de Mexico!"

Just a little bit of Spanish will open the door to meeting many, many lovely people!

Vale. ¡Buen Camino!
 
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I too would like to know the real answer to this question. Even after six weeks on the Camino from September to November last year I'm still not sure.

I usually began with "Puedes ayudarme..."
I was ready to use, if necessary, "Puede usted ayudarme..." but it never really seemed required.
I often used a mixture of Spanish vocabulary with English grammar, for example: "Estoy buscando por..."

What I found was that everywhere I went the people were so very very kind and helpful with my attempts to communicate. My pronunciation and grammar was almost always wrong but everyone was so patient. When a local would express surprise that an American could speak some Spanish, I was ready to continue the conversation with: "¡Los niños in California estudian español porque estamos circa de Mexico!"

Just a little bit of Spanish will open the door to meeting many, many lovely people!

Vale. ¡Buen Camino!
I haven't the patience to learn how to extract a piece of your lovely post, but the second last line tells its own story!
As in other areas of life, formality has given way to the modern abbreviated forms of speech and address. It is my experience that some people, depending on the situation, address me as usted. Usually, because of my grey hair, Or because I am receiving a service of one or another kind. In general, a little hesitation offers hints, just be on the alert for what is the right form in the moment. If in doubt, the informal is never out of place in my experience anyway.
good luck! And remember your own second last line. Worth a fortune!
(it takes one to know one! 😇)
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I learned Spanish as a young adult in South America. I never learned any plural "vosotros" forms and always used "ustedes" for the plural "you", even with my best friends. (Not necessarily saying "ustedes" but certainly using the third person plural verb form.) "Tu" was the common usage with friends and family. However, always walking into a store or addressing adult strangers, we would use the "usted" form for singular "you."

Now I am an old person traveling to Spain. It has taken me awhile to accept that "tu" is the normal form of address, no matter what the age of the people involved. I haven't met the King yet, but might make an exception there. I still tend to use the "ustedes" form for plural, rather than the "vosotros" because it is easier and I can do it without thinking. When talking to Spanish pilgrim friends, I just explain that I find it easier, and am not trying to be formal. They understand my quandary perfectly well - my Spanish is good but not great. In fact, I find myself restructuring my sentences without thinking, in order to avoid using "vosotros"!

Conclusion: In Spain, the normal usage seems to be "tu" and "vosotros." However, if it helps you by keeping things simpler, by all means stick to the formal usted/ustedes form. People will understand you, and think that you sound like a Latin American with an English-speaker's accent. If you can get to that level, be happy.
 
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When I used the formal ‘vous’ in France, I was gently corrected by a local that because I was a pilgrim, everyone was ‘tu’ to me.
Isn't that like the old days when new adult acquaintances first called each other Mr/Mrs/Miss, and then the recipient would say "Oh, please call me by my first name". So it was proper to start with the formal. I am curious what the practice is in France - Does a clerk in a store address an old person as "tu" or "vous"? In Spain, the "tu" is normal.
 
Isn't that like the old days when new adult acquaintances first called each other Mr/Mrs/Miss, and then the recipient would say "Oh, please call me by my first name". So it was proper to start with the formal. I am curious what the practice is in France - Does a clerk in a store address an old person as "tu" or "vous"? In Spain, the "tu" is normal.

Vous.
 
Isn't that like the old days when new adult acquaintances first called each other Mr/Mrs/Miss, and then the recipient would say "Oh, please call me by my first name". So it was proper to start with the formal. I am curious what the practice is in France - Does a clerk in a store address an old person as "tu" or "vous"? In Spain, the "tu" is normal.
The French are far more formal, in my experience. And any young lady with a job, is Madam rather than Mademoiselle while at work. I find if I start any conversation with ‘Bonjour Madam’ (not just Bonjour), the entire exchange is easier.
 
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If in doubt, the informal is never out of place in my experience anyway.

I haven't met the King yet, but might make an exception there.

A few years back King Felipe was interviewed and all though the interview the journalist used the informal usage, until she caught herself at the end and switched from tu to usted. It did cause a stir but the king didn't seem to mind as much as the older folks. Below is the story with reactions, both pro and con. At any rate it does give you the idea that informality that easy means pilgrims won't cause too much offense.

I'm at the age where I feel I can get away with tu anyway. But I do have problems not using the Latin American ustedes plural.

 
As the Spanish address God using the tu form, I’ve always considered myself on very safe ground indeed adopting the same practice in everyday conversation.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos Santificado sea tu Nombre Venga tu reino Hágase tu voluntad En la tierra como en el cielo Danos hoy el pan de este día y perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores y no nos dejes caer en la tentación sino que líbranos del malo. Amen.
 
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As the Spanish address God using the tu form
I long wondered why we do the same in English as thou is informal usage. Not long ago I Googled for an answer. Here is my short synopsis possibly with some things not quite correct.

In older English thou was second person singular and you was second person plural. The king represented not just himself but the country as well so was addressed as you. Eventually usage changed so thou became used much as tu (or vos) is in Spanish (informal) and similarly you as usted. However you came to be used as both informal plural and formal singular and formal plural. So, when translating the bible the problem of God's address arose, thou or you. A translator (I forget which) decided to use thou because that emphasized that God was one god because thou was always singular. This seems to ignore the Trinity but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

Anyway, this shows language usage in flux.
 
I long wondered why we do the same in English as thou is informal usage. Not long ago I Googled for an answer. Here is my short synopsis possibly with some things not quite correct.

In older English thou was second person singular and you was second person plural. The king represented not just himself but the country as well so was addressed as you. Eventually usage changed so thou became used much as tu (or vos) is in Spanish (informal) and similarly you as usted. However you came to be used as both informal plural and formal singular and formal plural. So, when translating the bible the problem of God's address arose, thou or you. A translator (I forget which) decided to use thou because that emphasized that God was one god because thou was always singular. This seems to ignore the Trinity but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

Anyway, this shows language usage in flux.
Yes, I only learned that a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been listening to the excellent ‘history of english podcast’ which goes into astounding detail about the evolution of English.

Spanish (at least in Spain) has become very much more informal in the last generation. Pronunciation is also becoming much more casual and to sound in any way fluent (as opposed to just understandable), I find it’s increasingly necessary to follow the trend.

As simple examples in my regular interaction ‘porfa’ is please, the ‘d’ at the end of past participles has all-but disappeared and a fair bit of mild profanity has crept in. Until a couple of years ago I was speaking grammatically correct Spanish but sounded like a well educated 12 year old from the 19th century. I’m slowly revealing my true self, unappealing as that may be.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
As the Spanish address God using the tu form, I’ve always considered myself on very safe ground indeed adopting the same practice in everyday conversation.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos Santificado sea tu Nombre Venga tu reino Hágase tu voluntad En la tierra como en el cielo Danos hoy el pan de este día y perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores y no nos dejes caer en la tentación sino que líbranos del malo. Amen.
Ah, but they're following the teaching of Christ, who used the informal "Abba" (Dad, Papá) to address the Lord in the Our Father...frankly, the our Father should probably be retranslated...;)

That being said, and based on Duolingo and Babbel and a couple of classes, I very much agree with your point. If I am speaking to a service person, I'll try to use the usted(s) forms ( sorry, too few braincells left to master vosotras). If to a stranger, I'll start there, and try to change. If to a younger pilgrim, tú forms.

Or whatever my tired brain can manage, which is usually charades...;)
 
For me, the key was when the instructor said Usted was the respectful way to say you. Having been raised in Tennessee and being over 60, it became natural to extend respect to everyone... like saying Sir or Ma'am. So, I'll work to use Usted/ Ustedes during all first meetings, regardless of anything else.
 
When I used the formal ‘vous’ in France, I was gently corrected by a local that because I was a pilgrim, everyone was ‘tu’ to me.
Yeah, tutoyer versus vouvoyer is complicated in France.

But between pilgrims and hospitaleros, only by exception will it be vous. And most often, out in the sticks, if you're a pilgrim it's nearly always tu.
 
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I offer this link that I've been using... it has several lesson videos and the one covering Tu and Usted I found easy to follow and very helpful. I hope you do, as well:
I am familiar with the tu/usted/vosotros, du/Sie/ihr and tu/vous/vous conundrum in various languages/cultural backgrounds. The development in Spain from usted to a more frequent use of tu during the last decades surprised me. Has there been a similar development in Portugal and Italy? I think that it happened also in the Nordic countries and to some extent in Germany but there not as strongly as in Spain (I know only about the cultural shift in Germany during the last 30 years or so but not about Austria and the German speaking parts of Switzerland).

BTW, the first thing that I noticed in the video was the map ☺️:

1680245045258.jpeg
 
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So, I'll work to use Usted/ Ustedes during all first meetings, regardless of anything else.
Or you could do what I usually do when I am a little uncertain about appropriate behaviour and language when meeting or interacting with someone for the first time: I simply avoid using any grammar constructions with usted / vous / Sie in the sentence and wait to hear what my interlocutor uses … 😇.
 
Ah, but they're following the teaching of Christ, who used the informal "Abba" (Dad, Papá) to address the Lord in the Our Father...frankly, the our Father should probably be retranslated.
Yes of course :) - geheiligt werde dein Name - que ton nom soit sanctifié -santificado sea tu nombre - the German, French and Spanish version of the Our Father prayer all use the standard singular “you” form that is used in everyday language and have done so for ages, independent of cultural shifts of conversation and manners. Unlike the English version with its “thy” form.
 
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Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos Santificado sea tu Nombre Venga tu reino Hágase tu voluntad En la tierra como en el cielo Danos hoy el pan de este día y perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores y no nos dejes caer en la tentación sino que líbranos del malo. Amen
Now the "padre nuestro" says " perdona nuestras ofensas como nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden". The word " deuda" was changed for " ofensa".
In relation to the OP, I, as an Spanish, always use "tu" and " vosotros" with other pilgrims. I don't like to be treated with " usted" by other pilgrims, but I understand it if the pilgrim is young, Latinoamerican, or not Spanish speaker.
 
I, as an Spanish, always use "tu" and " vosotros" with other pilgrims. I don't like to be treated with " usted" by other pilgrims, but I understand it if the pilgrim is young, Latinoamerican, or not Spanish speaker.
I’d be curious to know whether you, or others living in Spain, would use “tu” or “usted” in situations like these: owner or reception staff in a casa rural or in a small hotel on the Camino Francés; check-in staff at the Hospederia San Martín de Pinario in Santiago; older woman in a small grocery shop - more or less same age as you; staff serving you at a bar or in a restaurant; middle-aged person you meet on the street to ask for the way to the church?

These are all situations where I am not certain about language use in Spain. Up to now I have used “usted” if I used a direct address at all and/or managed to get my vocabulary and my grammar half-way right. 😂

And you make a good point: When initiating a conversation with using “usted” it is usually a signal to the other person that you want to be addressed in the same way … it is not necessarily understood as a sign of respect, imo.
 
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Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊

Now I am confused: There is a group of 5 people and you address all of them by “tu”. Now you want to say something to the whole group, like “you go this way and I go that way”. Don’t you need “vosotros” in that case? Or nosotros do this and vosotros do that …

(I am not really confused because I am familiar with other languages that, like Spanish, have several distinctly different words for English “you” - not fair, is it 😉)
 
I’d be curious to know whether you, or others living in Spain, would use “tu” or “usted” in situations like these: owner or reception staff in a casa rural or in a small hotel on the Camino Francés; check-in staff at the Hospederia San Martín de Pinario in Santiago; older woman in a small grocery shop - more or less same age as you; staff serving you at a bar or in a restaurant; middle-aged person you meet on the street to ask for the way to the church?
In Galicia depends on if my conversation is in Galego or in Spanish. In the first case, I would use "ti" more than " vostede" in all the cases. If the conversation is in Spanish, I would use "usted" in my first contact with hotels and also with the old woman. With staff serving me at a bar I would use "tu" or " usted" depending on the age and finally with the middle-aged person on the street I would use "tu" in Galicia ( but not in Aragón ( f. ex) where they are more formal).
 
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Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
That's pretty surprising coming from a Spanish teacher. In all the Spanish classes I've taken I've been told that vosotros is used in Spain. But here in North America it's generally not taught.
 
That's pretty surprising coming from a Spanish teacher. In all the Spanish classes I've taken I've been told that vosotros is used in Spain. But here in North America it's generally not taught.
Duolingo does not teach the verb forms for vosotros (2nd person plural) either and I thought that is fine for me, I will probably need to use it rarely and can work around it - or just use a wrong verb form, they’ll understand me … 😇
 
That's pretty surprising coming from a Spanish teacher. In all the Spanish classes I've taken I've been told that vosotros is used in Spain. But here in North America it's generally not taught.
This is because in Latinoamerica they say "tu" and "ustedes" in informal, I think in all countries. In Spain informal is "vosotros".
 
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Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
In Argentina, people do not use [tu] at all ever - instead [vos] is used for the 2nd person singular. The conjugation of verbs for 2nd PS is totally different for [vos] compared to [tu] - it is similar to but not the same as the [vosotros] conjugation.

[vosotros] is always the 2nd person plural

I'm not sure but i think [vos] comes from older castellano that has fallen into disuse in Spain & elsewhere.
 
That's pretty surprising coming from a Spanish teacher. In all the Spanish classes I've taken I've been told that vosotros is used in Spain. But here in North America it's generally not taught.
Well, that is really debatable.
When I went to school, I was taught the use of vos and vosotros. It was not used in normal conversations; we had to know it as we had the Spanish literature in our curriculum.
In Central America, there is Nicaragua, in which vos is normally used during conversations as substitute of tú/usted but, not as the plural vosotros.

The way I was educated, we should use usted, when meeting a person for first time, as a sign of respect when addressing an elder person, people with authority (teachers, politicians, law enforcement, priests, pastors, etc).
 
I long wondered why we do the same in English as thou is informal usage. Not long ago I Googled for an answer. Here is my short synopsis possibly with some things not quite correct.

In older English thou was second person singular and you was second person plural. The king represented not just himself but the country as well so was addressed as you. Eventually usage changed so thou became used much as tu (or vos) is in Spanish (informal) and similarly you as usted. However you came to be used as both informal plural and formal singular and formal plural. So, when translating the bible the problem of God's address arose, thou or you. A translator (I forget which) decided to use thou because that emphasized that God was one god because thou was always singular. This seems to ignore the Trinity but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

Anyway, this shows language usage in flux.
I grew up in an area of Northern England where Thee/Thou/Thy/Thine was and is still in everyday use. I never actually considered what was the formal or familiar version it was just natural from learning from my parents/peers.

I may be wrong, but I seem to notice a difference in Spoken Spanish between the older generation and millennial speakers. The older generation seem to speak slightly slower and enunciate more clearly.

I still drop back into dialect when I vist my family and my wife and children finds it hard to understand!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I grew up in an area of Northern England where Thee/Thou/Thy/Thine was and is still in everyday use. I never actually considered what was the formal or familiar version it was just natural from learning from my parents/peers.

I may be wrong, but I seem to notice a difference in Spoken Spanish between the older generation and millennial speakers. The older generation seem to speak slightly slower and enunciate more clearly.

I still drop back into dialect when I vist my family and my wife and children finds it hard to understand!
Still common in Lancashire and Yorkshire; although in Yorkshire Tha’ predominates.
 
Let me just clarify something before it gets too complicated 😊. In Spanish in Spain, they say for “you all talk …”:

- vosotros habláis
- ustedes hablan

Correct?
That is correct.

For that reason, I say to those trying to learn Spanish or Castellano (as the language is know in must of Latin/Hispanic America), not to worry if the version you are taught is that from the Americas or Spain. You will be understood everywhere. There may be certain words that may have different meanings in the region, just adapt.

Spanish is the same in Spain as it is in Cuba, Puerto Rico, México, Argentina, etc, as English is in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Bahamas, Antigua, etc.
 
Is it the difference between using say "buenos dias" and "hola", ie, formal vs informal?

I am not a Spanish speaker beyond the basics. But if I pass someone and am in a friendly mood, I usually use "buenos dias", especially if that person is older than me. In French when at school, we were taught to always use the formal unless you know the person. Rightly or wrongly, I apply the same to all languages. But my level is kind of good day, good night, how much, thank you, etc. Complex conversations, not a chance. ;)
 
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Yeah, tutoyer versus vouvoyer is complicated in France.

But between pilgrims and hospitaleros, only by exception will it be vous. And most often, out in the sticks, if you're a pilgrim it's nearly always tu.
We have an older French lady friend (we are 75 and she is 96). I inadvertently addressed her as 'tu', and she sharply reminded me that I should refer to her as 'vous' until invited to tutoyer. That was several years ago, and to this day there has not been an invitation. So vous it continues to be! (By the way she is a former primary school teacher and most of our conversations involve her correcting my French and making me say it again correctly! This even happens in Facebook messages!!)
 
We have an older French lady friend (we are 75 and she is 96). I inadvertently addressed her as 'tu', and she sharply reminded me that I should refer to her as 'vous' until invited to tutoyer. That was several years ago, and to this day there has not been an invitation. So vous it continues to be! (By the way she is a former primary school teacher and most of our conversations involve her correcting my French and making me say it again correctly! This even happens in Facebook messages!!)

She demands respect based on her age. It happens. I find the younger generations to be less formal in general, even in situations when formality are required.

My niece speaks french and is informal pretty much all the time (lots of tu and not much vous). But she is learning in Quebec, not France and is from that aforementioned generation.
 
I grew up in an area of Northern England where Thee/Thou/Thy/Thine was and is still in everyday use. I never actually considered what was the formal or familiar version it was just natural from learning from my parents/peers.

I may be wrong, but I seem to notice a difference in Spoken Spanish between the older generation and millennial speakers. The older generation seem to speak slightly slower and enunciate more clearly.

I still drop back into dialect when I vist my family and my wife and children finds it hard to understand!
I, too, have noticed that it is easier to have conversations with older people in Spain. Especially very old people in Galicia. I was wondering if it is because their first language is Galician and Spanish is their second language. So they speak a simpler version of Spanish. But, you might be right, maybe they just speak more slowly and carefully.
 
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In Portugal, people use " tu", but I don't know if it is like in Spain. I think that in some regions of Portugal they use " tu" and "vocês" ( third person plural) in informal. In Brasil is always "você" and "vocês" in both cases.
I have heard “o senhor” and “a senhora” as the ultra formal singular in Portuguese. NGL, I looked around to see *which* one they were talking about and -lol- I was the one!

Regarding the tú versus Usted dilemma, I have never been to Spain but I watch Spanish TV so it’s no longer “shocking” to see an older person addressed as tú. I don’t think I could do it. I taught Spanish here in the US for decades and I never taught any vosotros forms. I told my students that for “rare” verb conjugations, they would be more likely to encounter vos in Latin America.

Honestly, try not to worry about conjugating AT ALL! If you can spit out the unconjugated verb, you will be fine. Pantomime works too. Don’t stress about it!

PS: the verb buscar means “to look for” so you don’t need “por” after it. But no biggie!
 
Is it the difference between using say "buenos dias" and "hola", ie, formal vs informal?

I am not a Spanish speaker beyond the basics. But if I pass someone and am in a friendly mood, I usually use "buenos dias", especially if that person is older than me. In French when at school, we were taught to always use the formal unless you know the person. Rightly or wrongly, I apply the same to all languages. But my level is kind of good day, good night, how much, thank you, etc. Complex conversations, not a chance. ;)
Hola is informal. Buenos días or buenas tardes (until it’s dark outside!) is formal. When going into a store or a room full of people I usually say “Buenas” as kind of a formal-informal combination. Actually usually it’s “buenas, buenas”. Sounds kind of funny maybe but that’s what we say!
 
We have an older French lady friend (we are 75 and she is 96). I inadvertently addressed her as 'tu', and she sharply reminded me that I should refer to her as 'vous' until invited to tutoyer. That was several years ago, and to this day there has not been an invitation. So vous it continues to be! (By the way she is a former primary school teacher and most of our conversations involve her correcting my French and making me say it again correctly! This even happens in Facebook messages!!)
When there's about a generation or so of age difference, or more, the elder can ALWAYS insist on the "vous" (except young children of different generations) -- including the elder using tu, whilst being addressed by the younger as vous.

And that's even without the complexities of interpersonal individual respect (or lack thereof), which in some instances instate tu, but in others vous.

And a bunch of other variables ; regional, class system, culture, education classic or modern, temperament, and on and on. Let alone the sous-entendu(s). Nor the cases where tu is a deliberate complement or a deliberate insult ; or vous a deliberate complement or a deliberate insult. And even *that* varies locally and regionally.

The Spanish rules are FAR easier.

---

As to using usted with other pilgrims, what I have found is that it tends to occur in situations of genuine personal pilgrim-to-pilgrim respect, and either bon bourgeois or decent educational background, or both, and as a means by each or any or all to elevate a particular conversation into a better nature.

Kindred spirits, amidst the aches and pains, hardships and troubles, stink and compromises, the very madness of the Camino -- but yes, we are still proper well-mannered and decent.
 
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...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
I'm reviewing my Spanish (learned in high school) in the hopes of communicating effectively while on the Camino. One book does not cover the 'tu' form of the verb because as the book says "as a visitor, you will never use it". Another reference book only gives the 'tu' form of address and never mentions the 'usted' at all. Can someone help me out here? How should I talk to people on the Camino - formal or informal?
First time I lived in Spain was 1986-87, then 91-92, then 2000-2001. Now I go back pretty often and have spent long chunks of summers there. When I first went, as a college student, Ud./Uds. was used for anyone who was older than you (by more than a few years) and who you were just meeting. Things have gotten way less formal over the years, but I still use Ud. if someone (like hotel desk people) "Ud."s me first. And if I have to go into a bank for some transaction or something. Basically, for interactions that are of a business nature. But even there, if they "tu" (can't do accents on this screen) me first, then I use "tu" back to them. A few years ago, I saw an older hotel receptionist wince and grimmace when a student of mine addressed him as "tu." So I wouldn't say it's true that as a visitor you will never use it, but "tu" will be the form pilgrims use with other pilgrims. (Actually, if I encounter a fellow pilgrim, no matter what the person's age, who expects Ud. from me, I'll actually purposely not use it because that would violate the whole "we're all here on an equal footing" spirit of the Camino, and I'd be offended!) Also, vosotros IS widely used. I do a lot with the Central American population in the U.S., and they don't have that, so it's Uds. for everything. I STILL have to keep reminding myself to use Uds. with them because it doesn't feel natural to me. If you use Uds., Spaniards would certainly understand, and they're used to foreigners' Spanish. Most Spaniards are pretty gracious people. I think it's great, by the way, that you're trying to review your Spanish ahead of the trip there. I wish more people bothered, even just to get pronunciation of towns (and the Camino names!) right. It's a respect thing. Good for you.
 
First time I lived in Spain was 1986-87, then 91-92, then 2000-2001. Now I go back pretty often and have spent long chunks of summers there. When I first went, as a college student, Ud./Uds. was used for anyone who was older than you (by more than a few years) and who you were just meeting. Things have gotten way less formal over the years, but I still use Ud. if someone (like hotel desk people) "Ud."s me first. And if I have to go into a bank for some transaction or something. Basically, for interactions that are of a business nature. But even there, if they "tu" (can't do accents on this screen) me first, then I use "tu" back to them. A few years ago, I saw an older hotel receptionist wince and grimmace when a student of mine addressed him as "tu." So I wouldn't say it's true that as a visitor you will never use it, but "tu" will be the form pilgrims use with other pilgrims. (Actually, if I encounter a fellow pilgrim, no matter what the person's age, who expects Ud. from me, I'll actually purposely not use it because that would violate the whole "we're all here on an equal footing" spirit of the Camino, and I'd be offended!) Also, vosotros IS widely used. I do a lot with the Central American population in the U.S., and they don't have that, so it's Uds. for everything. I STILL have to keep reminding myself to use Uds. with them because it doesn't feel natural to me. If you use Uds., Spaniards would certainly understand, and they're used to foreigners' Spanish. Most Spaniards are pretty gracious people. I think it's great, by the way, that you're trying to review your Spanish ahead of the trip there. I wish more people bothered, even just to get pronunciation of towns (and the Camino names!) right. It's a respect thing. Good for you.
Right, there are many things to take care about..
I just returned from Gran Canaria, and in the touristic places virtually nobody wanted to communicate with me in Spanish… just too slow for the native speakers.. finally I got a little nasty and cut off their attempts to switch to English .. No hablo Ingles..
Regarding the question of OP…
In fact I am not so proficient to give the right advice, but intuitively I act according the situation…
If I approach a complete stranger on street then: Puede decirme….? If in a restaurant a waiter is approaching me, then: Que nos recomendas? 😎
 
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As the Spanish address God using the tu form, I’ve always considered myself on very safe ground indeed adopting the same practice in everyday conversation.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos Santificado sea tu Nombre Venga tu reino Hágase tu voluntad En la tierra como en el cielo Danos hoy el pan de este día y perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores y no nos dejes caer en la tentación sino que líbranos del malo. Amen.
Henry you always hit the nail on the head. The Spanish people, for the most part are gentle, loving people and apparently love, and are so accepting of pilgrims. The warm and loving form of “tu” one would use for a family member would seem most appropriate. Now when you check into the hotel and they’ve lost your reservation…all bets are off…I’m just sayin…
 
Castellano, Spanish is constantly evolving as is Latin American Spanish with its many local colloquialisms and slang. Some Spanish words mean different things in different places.
Except for Argentina, as noted above most Caribbean and Latin American Spanish speakers use ustedes as the plural of tu and never use vosotros. The formal usted though often used as a sign of respect can also be used as a form of distancing oneself from another person.
The tone and inflection matters a great deal too and opens conversation up for infinite nuances.
As long as someone is reaching out and is respectful, I don’t think people are offended, rather they are appreciative of your attempt to speak Spanish.
PS: even Caribbean words like guagua for bus are understood in Spain and frequently elicit a chuckle.
 
Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
In Argentina (and several other countries), they use "vos" instead of tu. It is an older form and logical if you consider vos- singular and vos(otros) - plural. Vosotros to mean you all (ye) is only used in Spain. In all seven varieties of Latin American Spanish, ustedes is used for you plural.

I would also add that Spain is an outlier in the almost universal use of tu. Today, a grocery clerk responded "a ti" when I said thank you as she handed me my change. I would have expected "a usted", which would have been the standard response in Latin America.
 
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I would also add that Spain is an outlier in the almost universal use of tu.
I find it’s amazing that the country where the language comes from nowadays is an outlier in its use… but should we care about it? The Camino still is in the Spain, right?
 
Now I am confused: There is a group of 5 people and you address all of them by “tu”. Now you want to say something to the whole group, like “you go this way and I go that way”. Don’t you need “vosotros” in that case? Or nosotros do this and vosotros do that …

(I am not really confused because I am familiar with other languages that, like Spanish, have several distinctly different words for English “you” - not fair, is it 😉)
Yes, Spaniards would use "vosotros" in that situation. (But not "nosotros" if it's just you, one person, and not a group in the first-person part of that.)
 
Thinking of vos, the YouTube channel Linguriosa where Elena (often acting as different persons) discusses the linguistics of Spanish. In this video the topic is vos (with a little of nos) starting in 4th century Rome. It is in slow, clear Spanish with helpful graphics and English subtitles are available. As Elena often says "Es muy interesante".

'Where does "vos" come from'
YouTube video id: KiqervherLQ
Clicking the title should bring you to YouTube, clicking the arrow should show you a smaller, embedded video.
 
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I long wondered why we do the same in English as thou is informal usage. Not long ago I Googled for an answer. Here is my short synopsis possibly with some things not quite correct.

In older English thou was second person singular and you was second person plural. The king represented not just himself but the country as well so was addressed as you. Eventually usage changed so thou became used much as tu (or vos) is in Spanish (informal) and similarly you as usted. However you came to be used as both informal plural and formal singular and formal plural. So, when translating the bible the problem of God's address arose, thou or you. A translator (I forget which) decided to use thou because that emphasized that God was one god because thou was always singular. This seems to ignore the Trinity but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

Anyway, this shows language usage in flux.

Linguistic answer: The original Biblical Our Father was in Greek, which makes no distinction between formal and informal. There are first, second and third persons, singular and plural, but neither formal nor informal. Languages that make that distinction (English used to with "thou" and "you," but doesn't anymore and in some places Spanish still does with "tu" and "usted"), tend to use the informal with God. I'm going to guess that intimacy triumphs over formality.
 
I find it’s amazing that the country where the language comes from nowadays is an outlier in its use… but should we care about it? The Camino still is in the Spain, right?
Sure. And when I'm in Spain, I remind myself that even 20 something clerks will tutearme. My point to those who are learners is that it isn't that way in all Spanish speaking countries. In retirement, I volunteered in the Peace Corps and served in Panama. I basically dropped tú from my vocabulary - even with people that I knew very well. Teachers in Panamanian schools typically use usted even when talking to six year olds. A waiter would never tutear a graybeard. Just another thing to be aware of in different countries / situations.
 
The original question was about the use of “tú” and “usted” in Spain and the shift (when directly addressing one person) from the more formal “usted” to the more informal “tú” during recent decades - a socio-linguistic development that also happens in other European countries with similar grammar/vocabulary. Here is a Wikipedia article (in English) about Swedish in Sweden where a similar process occurred in the 1960s and 1970s: Du-reformen.

If you are really into this: The article contains a short paragraph about how to circumvent the use of second person singular pronouns by using the passive voice. 🙂
 
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In Argentina (and several other countries), they use "vos" instead of tu. It is an older form and logical if you consider vos- singular and vos(otros) - plural. Vosotros to mean you all (ye) is only used in Spain. In all seven varieties of Latin American Spanish, ustedes is used for you plural.
Usted is certainly not older than the Latin tu. Nor is it older than the similarly Latinate vos.

Usted and vosotros are both derived forms.
I would also add that Spain is an outlier in the almost universal use of tu. Today, a grocery clerk responded "a ti" when I said thank you as she handed me my change. I would have expected "a usted", which would have been the standard response in Latin America.
I can remember the tu/usted familiar/formal distinction being more prevalent in Spain in the 1970s, and even in the 1990s.

So it's dropping out of use, as a linguistic evolution.
 
We have an older French lady friend (we are 75 and she is 96). I inadvertently addressed her as 'tu', and she sharply reminded me that I should refer to her as 'vous' until invited to tutoyer. That was several years ago, and to this day there has not been an invitation. So vous it continues to be! (By the way she is a former primary school teacher and most of our conversations involve her correcting my French and making me say it again correctly! This even happens in Facebook messages!!)
My French teacher used to say that we should only use "Tu" to familly, children and criminals! She then set us a translation exercise of a French policeman arresting a robber to illustrate the informal method of address to criminals.
Useful to remember that in some cultures (France and Germany) you have to be invited to use the informal methods address.
 
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Unless it's an elderly person or the King I use tu. This is based on advise from my teacher when I took a Spanish course in Barcelona.
Formality varies by country, but I would speak to business professionals such as shop owners using the formal and to other pilgrims using the familiar.
I may be old school the way I learned it, but it has served me well in countries over the decades. You can hardly go wrong by showing a stranger some respect.
 
Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
The Peruvian was mistaken. In Argentina and Uruguay, they don't use vosotros; they use ustedes.

I think the Peruvian was thinking about "vos," which they use instead of "tú" along with a different verb form, for example, vos tenés (not tienes), vos hablás (not hablas)
 
Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
With apologies to your Peruvian teacher, vosotros is used only in Spain. In Argentina, Chile, and sometimes other countries, vos is used instead of tú.
 
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My French teacher used to say that we should only use "Tu" to familly, children and criminals!
It varies regionally, though that is the rule in Paris and that region, and so is the rule of "official" French.

In most of the South, out in the sticks, and in some professional environments, in certain types of bar or other social environments, tu is the rule and vous the exception -- though when the French being used is "official", the above applies there too.
Useful to remember that in some cultures (France and Germany) you have to be invited to use the informal methods address.
You have to learn how to read the situation -- if it's formal, vous by default, and that rule never varies ; informal, the default varies regionally and according to a complex set of variables almost impossible for a non native speaker to understand -- but just follow local and situational example.

The most complex ones are those when two people sometimes use vous between each other, and at other times tu ; if their relationship is both formal and informal in turn.
 
Here in British Columbia I was told by a Spanish teacher (originally from Peru) that the only country where one might hear vosotros used, is Argentina. Now I’m hearing on this thread that vosotros is used in Spain.😊
This post of mine has elicited several responses, so many that I’m finding it hard to follow, much less hope to apply if I ever get to speaking Spanish well enough not to offend someone. In defence of my Peruvian teacher, I can tell you that they [I would prefer to use the singular pronoun but apparently that is falling into disuse] have not lived in a Spanish-speaking country for twenty years and are volunteering their time [again no singular pronoun] in their retirement to teach us, for which we are extremely grateful. Perhaps things have evolved a bit in the last twenty years, or perhaps I misunderstood; I don’t know.
 
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This is only my opinion /experience but with the exception of Catalunya, i have always found my efforts to speak Spanish always received graciously, patiently and with encouragement to continue. Honestly don't be getting stressed about using tu/usted, just try to communicate as best you can, topped with a smile.
I speak pretty well now but for years my Spanish was very basic, grammar terrible, vocab poor etc but i still got by. Generally people are very kind and patient! I tend to tutear (use tú) automatically and only remember to use usted half way through!

¡Animo! Try your best, that's all you can do.
 
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This is only my opinion /experience but with the exception of Catalunya, i have always found my efforts to speak Spanish always received graciously.
Maybe those people in Catalunya prefer, like in Portugal, that you speak to them in English. When I visit Catalunya if I want to speak in Spanish and have problems, I say "Sisplau jo soc turista no parlo catalá" (Please I'm a tourist, don't speak Catalan) and after that in all cases the other person spoke Spanish with a smile.
 
Maybe those people in Catalunya prefer, like in Portugal, that you speak to them in English. When I visit Catalunya if I want to speak in Spanish and have problems, I say "Sisplau jo soc turista no parlo catalá" (Please I'm a tourist, don't speak Catalan) and after that in all cases the other person spoke Spanish with a smile.


Although some of the older generation preferred to speak French with me.
 
When I used the formal ‘vous’ in France, I was gently corrected by a local that because I was a pilgrim, everyone was ‘tu’ to me.
Yes, I noticed this soon after starting my Chemin last year. I speak French reasonably well but am clearly a non-native speaker and, in other contexts, would generally start out with 'vous.' But, observed 'tu' being used everywhere en Chemin. When I queried this with French pilgrims and hosts, I was assured that pilgrims use 'tu,' regardless of age or rank. So liberating!
 
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I long wondered why we do the same in English as thou is informal usage. Not long ago I Googled for an answer. Here is my short synopsis possibly with some things not quite correct.

In older English thou was second person singular and you was second person plural. The king represented not just himself but the country as well so was addressed as you. Eventually usage changed so thou became used much as tu (or vos) is in Spanish (informal) and similarly you as usted. However you came to be used as both informal plural and formal singular and formal plural. So, when translating the bible the problem of God's address arose, thou or you. A translator (I forget which) decided to use thou because that emphasized that God was one god because thou was always singular. This seems to ignore the Trinity but I haven't gotten to that part yet.

Anyway, this shows language usage in flux.
I studied the history of English from Old English onwards many decades ago. As mentioned above, in Middle English the second person singular and plural were used in English much like they are currently in French, with the singular to show informality and intimacy and the plural to show formality and respect. You can see this in action if you read Malory's Morte d'Arthur where towards the end Sir Gawain switches from "you" to "thou" when addressing Sir Lancelot to show disrespect when they are on opposite sides (Lancelot continues with "you").

My memory is that I was taught that "thou" is used to refer to God to show the intimacy of our relationship with the Divine.
 
The original question was about the use of “tú” and “usted” in Spain and the shift (when directly addressing one person) from the more formal “usted” to the more informal “tú” during recent decades - a socio-linguistic development that also happens in other European countries with similar grammar/vocabulary.
I find it interesting that English went in the opposite direction. The reason that thee/thou/thine became vestigal is that we all got consistently formal with each other.
 
As a Spaniard, can I just say that these days most of us don't like being addressed as 'usted'. There some situations where it sounds OK, and even more appropriate. But, in general, we don't like it. It makes you feel very old when someone calls you 'usted'. So, unless the other person is clearly much older than you, or is some kind of authority figure, 'tú' is preferred.
And when someone calls you 'señor' or 'señora' (and you're under 70)... they might as well give you a slap in the face! It has the same effect 😅
 
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It made me feel every one of my 57 years...
Maybe this is a more delicate matter for people between the ages of 40 and 70, who are still afraid of the inevitable downhill progression. How would you feel nowadays?

And when someone calls you 'señor' or 'señora' (and you're under 70)... they might as well give you a slap in the face! It has the same effect
For me, a person who is over 70, I am not sure how to interpret this. I have certainly passed the point of my age being relevant to me, for anything. I have no problem telling anyone how old I am, and I am certainly not offended by someone addressing me formally. I know that I am officially old, and I don't see anything wrong if people notice. However, I honestly consider myself ageless, and I would prefer that others treat me as such.

I’ve been listening to the excellent ‘history of english podcast’ which goes into astounding detail about the evolution of English.
Another very good series is the Story of Human Language by John McWhorter. It is one of the Great Courses, so you might want to take advantage of a trial subscription to Audible or a similar service.
 
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And when someone calls you 'señor' or 'señora' (and you're under 70)... they might as well give you a slap in the face! It has the same effect 😅
@MariaSP, what about the use of señorita in Spanish in Spain? I am always amazed when I hear “miss” on TV, especially in AE. In other languages, the equivalent has died out since about 1968 or so and when used nowadays it is close to an insult (in German certainly, perhaps also in French, don’t know about Italian).
 
Maybe this is a more delicate matter for people between the ages of 40 and 70, who are still afraid of the inevitable downhill progression. How would you feel nowadays?
I'm still well in that age range at 60. Having been both a commissioned Army chaplain and a school teacher (very briefly!) I have been very used to being addressed as "Sir" in the past. Both quite structured and hierarchical environments. I think what rattled my cage slightly in the backpacker hostel case was that the degree of formality seemed out of place in the very relaxed and informal setting.
 
@MariaSP, what about the use of señorita in Spanish in Spain? I am always amazed when I hear “miss” on TV, especially in AE. In other languages, the equivalent has died out since about 1968 or so and when used nowadays it is close to an insult (in German certainly, perhaps also in French, don’t know about Italian).
Good question. I have been very surprised to be called "señorita" upon occasion, as it seems rather mocking unless it comes from a 95-year-old.
 
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What to say instead of señor and señora?
You don't have to say anything.
Let's say you go into a shop, bar, café, etc. and you either greet the server, place your order, thank them or whatever by saying things like 'hola, señor' or 'gracias señora'. 'Hola' or 'gracias' (without the 'señor/señora') is plenty.
If you need to get someone's attention on the street because you need directions, you can simply say 'oye, disculpa' (tú version) or 'oiga, disculpe' (usted version). And that's perfectly fine too.
Adding 'señor/señora' sounds weird and the other person is most likely not going to be happy about it.
 
@MariaSP, what about the use of señorita in Spanish in Spain? I am always amazed when I hear “miss” on TV, especially in AE. In other languages, the equivalent has died out since about 1968 or so and when used nowadays it is close to an insult (in German certainly, perhaps also in French, don’t know about Italian).
You may still hear it occasionally, but definitely not as common as it used to be.
 
Maybe this is a more delicate matter for people between the ages of 40 and 70, who are still afraid of the inevitable downhill progression. How would you feel nowadays?


For me, a person who is over 70, I am not sure how to interpret this. I have certainly passed the point of my age being relevant to me, for anything. I have no problem telling anyone how old I am, and I am certainly not offended by someone addressing me formally. I know that I am officially old, and I don't see anything wrong if people notice. However, I honestly consider myself ageless, and I would prefer that others treat me as such.


Another very good series is the Story of Human Language by John McWhorter. It is one of the Great Courses, so you might want to take advantage of a trial subscription to Audible or a similar service.

I picked 70 a bit randomly. I'm sure there are people over 70 who don't like being addressed formally as 'usted'. But, the older you get, the less likely you are to get offended because someone addressed you formally.

My point was that nowadays, in Spain, the use of 'usted' has reduced drastically compared to 20, 30 or 40 years ago. My parents' generation addressed their own parents formally as 'usted'. My generation addresses our parents informally as 'tú'. We used to address our teachers formally but my kids' generation address their teachers informally. That's how the use of 'usted' has been evolving.

People, even if they are 'officially old', as you say, don't like being reminded of it. And 'usted' is a reminder. Apart from that, 'usted' also creates a barrier, distance between yourself and the other person. That's something to keep in mind too.
 
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My point was that nowadays, in Spain, the use of 'usted' has reduced drastically compared to 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
Yes, I understand that and have adapted to using "tu" most of the time. It really doesn't offend me either way. I ask for forgiveness for using the overly formal "ustedes" upon occasion, or I alter my sentence constructions to avoid the need.
 
I learned vosotros in high school Spanish, but it completely disappeared in my university Spanish courses which were heavily Latin-american-oriented. And while in university, I had the opportunity for total immersion for several weeks in Ecuador and Guatemala, where you always start with Usted with adult strangers.

I was surprised to find out that Usted is so rarely used in Spain, as I thought the Spanish spoken in "the old country" would be more formal. My only experience with British English usage growing up was through movies and TV shows, where it always seemed more formal than American English - at least in whatever I was watching! I assumed the Latin America vs Spain differences would be analogous (wrong!).

As for Thou/Thy/etc., since I only ever heard that usage in church, it always sounded very formal to me. I only realized that it was the old English familiar voice when I read "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Hemingway. He used Thou in place of Tu in dialogs between the main character and his lover as an implied direct translation from Spanish.

As for the Camino and fellow pilgrims, I met a Spanish gentleman from Castilla La Mancha who was in his mid-seventies (I was 66), and he addressed me as Usted. Maybe it was a generational or regional thing, but I took my cue from him and reciprocated with the same formality.
 
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This conundrum arises wherever language has not been entirely Anglisized. A gentleman of a certain age and habits addressed by his junior with "How art thou?" responded "Thee thous them as thous thee, and not afore, si'thee lad!"

I'll use "tu" other than to the mayor or to a member of the Guardia with enough gold braid to look scary ;)
 
Usted is neither as dated nor as formal as thou. I recall hearing it a lot more than vosotros in Spain. Usted is a safe bet with someone you do not know well, although I would tend to address fellow pilgrims in the informal mode, and people in stores restaurants, hotels, etc. formally. People are unlikely to be offended by being treated with respect.
 
As for Thou/Thy/etc., since I only ever heard that usage in church, it always sounded very formal to me. I only realized that it was the old English familiar voice when I read "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Hemingway. He used Thou in place of Tu in dialogs between the main character and his lover as an implied direct translation from Spanish.
If you ever read Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur the use of thou/thy/thine is very nuanced. For example, when Lancelot is facing off against the Orkney brothers (Gareth, Gaheris, etc.) near the end, he always uses "you" to them to be polite and they use "thou" to be insulting.
 
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If you ever read Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur the use of thou/thy/thine is very nuanced. For example, when Lancelot is facing off against the Orkney brothers (Gareth, Gaheris, etc.) near the end, he always uses "you" to them to be polite and they use "thou" to be insulting.
Yeah, but that was written in 1485 and usage has changed a bit in the last six centuries. I'm speaking from 21st century experience.
 
Yeah, but that was written in 1485 and usage has changed a bit in the last six centuries. I'm speaking from 21st century experience.
That was when the you/thou usage was (a) active and (b) determined by formality.

Modern usage of thou in standard dialects doesn't exist. Or, perhaps, you could say it isn't formal, but very very intimate. In fact, thou, in most standard dialects of English, is so intimate that it is only used to talk to God, with whom we have the most intimate of relationships. :) And even that isn't really current but a relic of the last vestiges of intimate usage, in prayers.

Otherwise, we are so formal that we use "you" even with our spouses and children.
 
As a Spaniard, can I just say that these days most of us don't like being addressed as 'usted'. There some situations where it sounds OK, and even more appropriate. But, in general, we don't like it. It makes you feel very old when someone calls you 'usted'. So, unless the other person is clearly much older than you, or is some kind of authority figure, 'tú' is preferred.
And when someone calls you 'señor' or 'señora' (and you're under 70)... they might as well give you a slap in the face! It has the same effect 😅
After reading this I have to say that I was a bit offended at being addressed as señora and usted this past year. I'm not over 70 (though approaching it faster than I'd like), nor do I look old or infirm (I hope). 😄
 
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After reading this I have to say that I was a bit offended at being addressed as señora and usted this past year.
Well, I have to say that I was a bit taken aback by being called señorita, by a young person. It just felt silly. I think it is largely a case where some people choose to be formal in the way they address others - for example, in a business situation some people will address people as Ms X or Mr X, while others will use first names. I remember the woman responsible for the keys to a church on the Lana giving us an informal tour inside, and she used the "usted" form quite distinctly. (I noticed because it was unusual, and I think even my companion, L, responded to her in kind, which I had never heard before.) Perhaps in her capacity as church caretaker, she was formal with all visitors. I liked it!
 
As a Spaniard, can I just say that these days most of us don't like being addressed as 'usted'. There some situations where it sounds OK, and even more appropriate. But, in general, we don't like it. It makes you feel very old when someone calls you 'usted'. So, unless the other person is clearly much older than you, or is some kind of authority figure, 'tú' is preferred. And when someone calls you 'señor' or 'señora' (and you're under 70)... they might as well give you a slap in the face! It has the same effect 😅
Now that this thread has come alive again: @MariaSP and any other Spanish speakers living in Spain, what would you use or advise a foreign pilgrim with only a smattering of Spanish to use in these situations as personal address: tu or usted?

bus driver in local bus; or taxi driver​
cashier at small supermarket; or salesperson in El Corte Inglés​
staff at reception desk of small hotel; or casa rural​

Let's say everybody involved is younger than 70 - or feels like this - but not younger than 30.

FWIW, my policy is to avoid tu and usted verb forms as a matter of principle when I am not certain; to wait and see what the other person uses; to stick to my usual habits as to tutoyer and Siezen and Duzen in French and German but things are changing there, too, and are becoming more informal.
 
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Interesting subjective replies. I recently had asked the question on google of what age is a person considered "elderly". Surprisingly nearly all of the answers said 65 years old...that's a low blow for many of us regular posters on this forum. I assumed I had a whole decade left before walking down that road.😅
 
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Interesting subjective replies. I recently had asked the question on google of what age is a person considered "elderly". Surprisingly nearly all of the answers said 65 years old...that's a low blow for many of us regular posters on this forum. I assumed I had a whole decade left before walking down that road.😅
Just before Covid struck I made a trip to Australia. Doing it on a tight budget and staying in backpacker hostels quite often where at 57 I managed to bump the average age up quite a lot. Very disconcerting to be addressed as "sir" a few times by my fellow punters. That really made me feel every one of those years! :cool:
 
While we're "off" the subject - any views on the use of Chico/a to attract the attention of wait staff and bar tenders? I here it frequently in the sorts of bars where the staff are generally on the youngish side (should probably still be in school ;)). It would seem totally inappropriate when the camarero is dressed in black trousers, white shirt and waistcoat and is probably my contemporary. "Atención" kind of works but I'm never sure whether there's a better alternative to the traditional "Oi!"
 
While we're "off" the subject - any views on the use of Chico/a to attract the attention of wait staff and bar tenders? I here it frequently in the sorts of bars where the staff are generally on the youngish side (should probably still be in school ;)). It would seem totally inappropriate when the camarero is dressed in black trousers, white shirt and waistcoat and is probably my contemporary. "Atención" kind of works but I'm never sure whether there's a better alternative to the traditional "Oi!"
"Disculpe" = excuse me, as in "may I interrupt you" as opposed to an apology, although it means that as well. Waving a hand. My Spanish is Latin American, but to me, "chico/a" does not sound respectful. Perhaps a native speaker from Spain on this list would chime in that it's not the same in Spain, but I'd avoid that term.
 
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While we're "off" the subject - any views on the use of Chico/a to attract the attention of wait staff and bar tenders? I here it frequently in the sorts of bars where the staff are generally on the youngish side (should probably still be in school ;)). It would seem totally inappropriate when the camarero is dressed in black trousers, white shirt and waistcoat and is probably my contemporary. "Atención" kind of works but I'm never sure whether there's a better alternative to the traditional "Oi!"
"Oye, tío!" might be too informal.
 

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