Vous and Tu


How Many Ways Can You Say You?

I'm not about to say I'm a master at the French language, I barely even consider myself fluent, but I think I've made a lot of progress since July. I'm more comfortable with my French. And while I still get tripped up over the damn masculine and feminine rule, the thing that drives me crazy is the vous and tu. Yep this form of politeness is somehow still an issue for me. 

Tu means you. Vous is the plural form of you. It is also a way to say you when you don't know the person very well. Now enter in the confusion of are we at the vous stage or the tu stage of this relationship. From what I do know is that you always use vous at work, especially with anyone that outranks you. You also use vous when meeting people for the first time, including waiters, bankers, or any other service job. Tu is for friends and family, generally people that you know very well.

Musee Rodin
So what's the problem? Well my English speaking mind thinks you and automatically goes for tu. That leads to some awkward reactions from people. Thankfully the family that I work for just smiles when I make this mistake and don't take it as anything more than a mistake. But you need to be careful because some people get insulted very quickly. If there's a disagreement between two people, let's say at work, and someone switches to tu, oh snap watch out. Switching from vous to tu like that is very condescending, so be careful with not making that mistake! People react as if they've been called a bad word/name, it's that big of a deal! Thankfully I haven't made too many of these mistakes, but it's still something that I do. Oops!

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