Bootstrapping Russian: Grammar Lesson Two: Formality in Russian: Вы and Ты

Russian Grammar Lesson 2: Formality in Russian: Вы and Ты

  • The Russian word for ‘you’ (the second person) depends on who is being addressed.
  1. вы is used when addressing someone formally or politely.
  2. Ты is used when talking to friends and family.
  • Grammatically вы behaves just like the second person plural (‘you guys’, ‘ya’ll’).
  • So when first using вы imagine you are talking to two people.


Ты учитель? (Are you (informal) a teacher?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’.]

Ты уже здесь? (Are you (informal) here yet?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; уже means ‘yet’ or ‘already’.]

Вы профессор? (Are you (formal) a/the professor?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’.]

Вы русский? (Are you (formal) Russian (male)?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; русский is the male adjective for ‘Russian’.]

Когда вы дома? (When are you (formal) at home?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; когда means ‘when’.]

Вы всегда дома. (You (formal) are always at home.)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; всегда means ‘always’.]

Когда ты здесь? (When are you (informal) here?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; когда means ‘when’.]

Ты никогда здесь. (You (informal) are never here.)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; никогда means ‘never’.]

Почему ты здесь? (Why are you (informal) here?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; почему means ‘why’.]

Вы иногда там? (Are you (formal) sometimes there?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; иногда means ‘sometimes’.]

Вы часто там? (Are you often there?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; часто means ‘often’.]

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