Tú and Usted

Spanish speakers use  and usted a lot, and both mean “you”, but the question is, in which situations should we use each of them? Keep reading and find more about these two words that may cause confusion between Spanish learners.

Let’s start with, is used when talking informally to someone you know well such as a friend, relative, cousin, classmates, among others. You can also use tú when you’re talking to someone of the same age, the same rank, or the same educational level and for sure if someone asks you to.

In the other hand, usted is used in formal settings; it should be used with strangers, in business settings, when talking to older people who you do not know very well, or someone you consider to be of higher rank, let’s say that usted is a more respectful way of talking to someone.

When in doubt, you can use “usted” and wait for the person to tell you “tutéame por favor”. Tutear means “to address using the familiar tú form”.


  • You don’t have to pay for the dinner – Tú no tienes que pagar (informal)
  • You are a great teacher. Usted es una buena maestra (formal)

Let me know if you have any questions or write in the comments other examples!


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Lisa Ramirez Written by:

Graphic Designer, Blog editor, Spanish Teacher.

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