There is a right and also a wrong way to to speak “you” in French. Or rather, over there are different ways come say it depending upon who you are talking to.

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Use the right kind and world will be happy to speak to you and amazed by your knowledge of the language ; usage the wrong form and the only thing they will certainly remember is just how rude you are.

Here is how to pick the best “you” in French!

Why friend must recognize the difference between “tu” and also “vous”

How would you react if a stranger came up to you, and said: “hey dude, what’s up”?

You would possibly be embarrassed, maybe even angry. You would wonder that this man is, why he talks to you together if you were his best friend.

That’s precisely the very same in French.

The distinction between “vous” and also “tu” indicates your relationship to the human you room talking to. Utilizing the wrong kind will lead world to think you nothing respect them. Because that this reason, understanding when to use “tu” and when to usage “vous” is critical.

That’s what you room going to uncover now.

Vous: the formal French you


“Vous” is the safe “you” in French.

If you don’t recognize whether you have to use “vous” or “tu”, usage “vous”. No one will ever blame you for being also formal.

You use “vous” to say “you” in French with:

People friend don’t understand (people in the street, sellers…)People more than 20 year older than yougroups

The last one is an especially important. If you talk to several persons, you always use “vous”, because “vous” is also the plural “you”.

Tu: the informal French you

Think around the civilization you space the closestly to.

Your parents, her husband/wife, her friends, perhaps some of her colleagues.

These are human being you deserve to use “tu” with.

You can likewise use tu with:

Kids and teenagersGodOn most web forums

You never ever use “tu” when talking come a group.

Questions you may ask yourself about “tu” and also “vous”

Can I begin the conversation v “vous” and also switch come “tu” later?

When you speak English, girlfriend sometimes start talking to someone formally, and also then switch to a an ext informal language as you acquire to know each other.

The very same happens in French. Sometimes, you start talking come someone using “vous”, and finish the conversation through “tu”.

This also happens once you begin a conversation with “vous” because you aren’t certain whether you have the right to use “tu” or not, and then realize using “tu” would be perfectly fine with this person, either since the human invited girlfriend to use “tu” or because it just feels right.

How come ask a person if you can use “tu”

Sometimes friend won’t know whether you have to use “vous” or “tu”. For this reason to it is in safe, you can ask:

On se tutoie ?

Do we use “tu” with each other?

or in a more formal way:

Est-ce que je peux vous tutoyer ?

May I usage “tu” v you?

This is a rhetorical concern though and answering no would be awkward.

Can it it is in rude to usage “vous”?

In case of doubt, the always better to use “vous” 보다 “tu”.

However, there are some rare instances where the usage of “vous” instead of “tu” deserve to offend a person.

Now you probably wonder just how being much more polite can offend someone.

The fact is that “vous” no only display respect, it mirrors distance. So once a 20 year-old supplies “vous” v a 40 year-old, the 40 year-old may feel older as a result. In this situation, the usage of “vous” highlights the difference of age.

The exact same is true between friends. If one friend provides “vous” and also the various other “tu”, this may produce distance and make the girlfriend who supplies “tu” feeling uncomfortable.

Is it it s okay if one human being uses “tu” while the other provides “vous”?

It’s perfect acceptable because that one person to usage “tu” while the other offers “vous”.

This happens when an adult talks come a kid for example.

Many people feel uncomfortable through this though, so they may tell you:

Tu peux me tutoyer

You have the right to use “tu” v me

Should I usage “vous” or “tu” on internet?

It’s much much more common to usage “tu” virtual than offline.

That said, the best means to recognize whether you need to use “tu” or “vous” is to observe and also see what civilization use.

If she on a video clip game forum, making use of “tu” will normally be okay. If you space commenting an write-up from Le Monde, “vous” would certainly be much much more appropriate.

Don’t forget come conjugate the verb accordingly

Earlier, ns told you that “vous” is also used as soon as you space talking come a group.

This way that the verb complying with “vous” offers the many form.

But this is likewise true as soon as you room talking to just one person.

When you usage “vous”, the adhering to verb always uses the many form.

Bonjour ! Comment vas-tu ?


Salut ! Comment tu vas ?


Bonjour ! Comment allez-vous ?

Both sentences have the very same meaning. The only differences is the the very first one is informal, if the second one is official or plural.

When you use “vous”, you should use the verb finishing “ez” at the current tense. An easy way to remember the is come think about the famed song Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir.

Note: to do it easier for you to understand what happens as soon as you move to “vous”. I selected a sentence whereby you invert verb and also pronoun come ask the question. But this isn’t the many common means to asking a question in an informal situation.

Not certain which “you” to usage in French?

Then use “vous” till you are invited to use “tu”. You may sound overly polite, yet you won’t need to worry around being rude.

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Benjamin Houy is a indigenous French speaker and also tea drinker through a BA degree in used Foreign Languages and also a passion for languages. After to teach French and also English in southern Korea because that 7 month as part of a French government program, he developed French Together™ to help English speakers discover the 20% of French the truly matters.