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French grammar - Politeness in French - the pronouns vous and tu

Politeness in French - the pronouns vous and tu

In addition to vous being the second person plural pronoun ('y'all', 'you guys'), it is also used when addressing someone politely or formally - someone you have just met, your teacher or your boss etc.

On the other hand, the other singular 'you' pronoun tu is used when talking to someone you are familiar with - to friends and family etc.

Whether vous refers (formally) to a single person or to multiple people ('you guys') can sometimes be ambiguous and the meaning needs to be understood from context.

-- Henceforth in the examples 'you' in the English translation will be marked (formal) when the singular vous in being used, (plural) for the plural vous and (familiar) for tu.

Tu es en retard.
You (familiar) are late.

Here is one of many exceptions we will encounter in French - there is no liaison after the es.

Tu es où ?
Where are you (familiar)?
Salut Jacques, tu es en avance.
Hi Jacques, you (familiar) are early.

salut is a common informal greeting. And farewell.

Bonjour Madame, vous êtes en avance.
Hello Madam, you (formal) are early.

madam (f) means 'Mrs' or 'madame'

madame is capitalised when addressing her directly

Vous êtes français, Monsieur ?
Are you (formal) French, sir?

français (m) means 'French (male)'

monsieur (m) means 'Mr' or 'sir'

monsieur is capitalised when addressing him directly

Vous êtes où ?
Where are you (formal)?
Pourquoi vous êtes ici ?
Why are you (formal) here?

pourquoi (adv) means 'why'

Bon, vous êtes d'accord.
Good, you (formal) agree.

bon (adj) means 'good'