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Russian grammar - Formality in Russian: вы and ты

Formality in Russian: вы and ты

The Russian word for 'you' (the second person pronoun) depends on who is talking and who is being addressed.

вы is used when addressing someone formally or politely.

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 it imagine you are talking to two people.

Ты ученик?
Are you (informal) a student?

ты is the informal 'you'

ученик means 'student'

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'.

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 (formal) often there?

вы is the formal 'you'

часто means 'often'.