June 10, 2020 ·

Vos instead of Tú – Spanish from Argentina

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Why is VOS used in Argentina?


Many students get a bit intimidated in their first Spanish lesson when they found out that the only conjugations they felt confident about, are not commonly used in Buenos Aires. I’m talking about their first contact with the “voseo”, the use of “vos” instead of the more familiar “tú” to address “you”.

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Examples of Present Indicative conjugation of regular verbs for Tú and Vos

Verbs ending inVerb ExampleVos
-ARllamar (to call)tú llamasvos llamás
-ERcomer (to eat)tú comesvos comés
-IRsalir (to leave/go out)tú salesvos salís

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Basically, in Spanish we have three different options for the second person singular “you”. “Usted” is mainly used in formal situations, when you’re addressing your boss, the doctor, or an old lady in the street. We use “usted” in every Spanish speaking country in the planet. We use both “tú” and “vos” in informal contexts, but you will only hear the latter in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and some countries in Central America.

Also Read: My study abroad experience in Argentina

The origin of the pronoun “vos” dates back to Spain in the 4th century, when this form was used to address the emperor, and it implied high respect. Its use began to extend and spread in the next centuries and slowly lost its original meaning of authority until the 1800’s, when it became almost offensive and finally disappeared.

In the Americas, the countries more closely related to Spain, followed the European tendency and began to use only “tú”. In the south of the continent, where its influence was not so marked, we keep on using “vos” when talking to someone informally.


Don’t Fret! VOS and TÚ have more similarities than differences


Most importantly, there’s no reason to panic when you arrive in Buenos Aires when you notice this! Here are why:

1) First of all, your teachers at Vamos Spanish will explain to you how to use both forms.
2) Second, since the differences between “tú” and “vos” only occur in the Present Indicative and in the Imperative, the other conjugations are exactly the same!
3) Finally, no matter which variation of Spanish you decide to learn and use, everyone will understand you wherever you go, the same way a New Yorker can perfectly communicate with someone from Dublin.

If you haven’t already, check out the ‘Vos, Tú y Usted’ video right at the top of this blog. It demonstrates all these in an easy to understand way.

Want to learn more about this topic? Here is an interesting article from our news media (in Spanish only), and Wikipedia has some good details too!

Also Read: How to Better Understand Local Spanish in Buenos Aires

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