We’re slowly now going to start discussing Spanish grammar, which is critical to learning Spanish. Now, vital to every communication is knowing the subject (or noun) of whatever is being said or written, right? Are we talking about Mexico or Jane from the apartment below or iPods? These are all examples of nouns – person, place or thing. But most of the time we use subject pronouns to replace the noun. For example, if you and Jane are having a conversation, it would be foolish to always refer to her as Jane. For this reason, when talking to someone, we generally substitute the person’s name with “you.” This is a subject pronoun.
In English, the subject pronouns are: I, You, He/She/It, We, You (plural) and They.
Spanish also has subject pronouns:
Túº (you – singular, informal)
Usted (you – singular, formal)
Vosotros/Vosotras (You – plural, informal; only used in Spain)
Ustedes (You – plural, formal; used everywhere outside of Spain)
A couple of notes:
Tú vs. Usted
Tú is informal, and is to be used when referring to someone that you know or is younger than you. Whereas Usted is formal, and is to be used when referring to someone that you don’t know or someone that is older than you, as a way to pay respect.
Although you should keep this distinction in mind and try to abide by the customary uses of Tú and Usted, don’t fret if you always resort to using Tú. No one is going to yell at you! 🙂
Because Vosotros is used only in Spain, for purposes of this blog, I’m not going to focus on it, rather when referring to you in the plural form, I will use Ustedes only because 1) People in Spain will understand Usted; and 2) Ustedes is more commonly used because, as I mentioned, Vosotros is only used in Spain, whereas Ustedes is used everywhere else.
But in my Spanish Grammar section, I include Vosotros in the lessons there.
In Spanish every noun is either masculine or femine. Therefore, when referring to groups of people like Nosotros (We), Vosotros (You all) and Ellos (They), you have to pay attention to gender.
If they entire group is of all males or a mix of males and females (even 1 male and 100 females) then you use Nosotros, Vosotros, and Ellos. You only use Nosotras, Vosotras and Ellas when the entire group is comprised of females.