El pronombre "vos" = Voseo: Using the pronoun "vos" in Latin America

In certain parts of Latin America it's common to use the pronoun vos as a 2nd person singular pronoun (equivalent to the subject pronoun ) with a sometimes unique conjugation. Voseo means using vos where Spanish would usually use  (and this is therefore called tuteo).

Location

Vos is used in and around the Río de la Plata area (i.e. Argentina and Uruguay). It can also be heard in areas of eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, and Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, southern parts of Chiapas in Mexico) and some parts of Colombia. 

Conjugation  

Vos and  share the same conjugation in most tenses except for El Presente and El Imperativo where spelling and word stress are different. Have a look and listen to the following contrasting examples:

tuteo:

¿Tú tienes frío?Are you cold?

voseo:

¿Vos tenés frío?Are you cold?

tuteo:

¡Ven acá! (tú)Come here!

voseo:

¡Vení acá! (vos)Come here!

tuteo:

Cuéntame qué pasó. (tú)Tell me what happened.

voseo:

Contame qué pasó. (vos)Tell me what happened.

Usage

How and when you use vos depends on where you are and who you are talking to, as in some regions it co-exists with . For example:

  • in Argentina, Uruguay and most of Paraguay, vos is the only informal pronoun. The use of  is unusual and sounds odd.
  • in places like Guatemala and El Salvador, the choice between  and vos is a matter of prestige and social class, with  being the prestigious and educated choice which is taught at school and vos being informal, considered even as a substandard form.
  • in some parts of Colombia the opposite might happen; vos is the middle-ground choice between informal  and formal usted.

Regardless of the regional variations, it is said that two thirds of the population of Latin America uses vos.

 

Q&A Forum 2 questions, 2 answers

PeterB2Kwiziq community member

Should I learn to use vos as I’m going to Costa Rica?

I am going to Costa Rica. Should I learn to use Vos? Or is it best for non-native speakers to stick to usted and maybe tú?

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Peter

In Costa Rica they alternate tú and vos, both as informal pronouns for "you singular" - so you will hear voseo there. But if you use tú (informally) and usted (formally) you are more than safe!

Also remember that you need to use "ustedes" for the you plural (in any situation, formal and informal) 

Enjoy your trip!

Saludos cordiales 

Inma

Peter asked:View original

Should I learn to use vos as I’m going to Costa Rica?

I am going to Costa Rica. Should I learn to use Vos? Or is it best for non-native speakers to stick to usted and maybe tú?

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PeterB2Kwiziq community member

Usted used between girlfriend and boyfriend?

On another course, an example conversation between novio and novia goes: “usted sabe que lo amo. Vayamos al cine, hay una película nueva que quiero que veamos. Me muero por que usted la vea”. It was partly my frustration that there was no explanation of the use of usted here that led me to look for another course. Can anyone here explain this to me? Is this a regional peculiarity? Maybe Colombia? Thanks.

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Peter

Yes, that's not unusual in some parts of Latin America. It is common in Colombia in parts of the Andean region and specific areas. So you may hear young people using the pronoun usted in an informal way.

This use of usted (informally) is not a general use in Latin America as tú would be the general pronoun to use in informal situations and usted in formal situations; this is why we don't have any lesson testing this usage in Kwiziq Spanish as there are so many variants in Latin America, it would be impossible to include them all and test on all of them. The same goes for the pronoun vos, which is a lot more limited.

Nevertheless we may include this bit of extra information in our informative articles as this is very interesting and it would help students who encounter this. 

Gracias y saludos

Inma

Peter asked:View original

Usted used between girlfriend and boyfriend?

On another course, an example conversation between novio and novia goes: “usted sabe que lo amo. Vayamos al cine, hay una película nueva que quiero que veamos. Me muero por que usted la vea”. It was partly my frustration that there was no explanation of the use of usted here that led me to look for another course. Can anyone here explain this to me? Is this a regional peculiarity? Maybe Colombia? Thanks.

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