How to choose between tu or vous in French? And then, when can we switch from using vous to using tu with a French person? If these very questions are not always clear for a native French, I can only imagine how much more confusing they can be for a foreigner! The good news is: as a foreigner you will be more easily forgiven for using the improper form of address. The second good news is, I’ll try to clarify it all in this episode!
Vocabulary and Spelling of the French Words mentioned in this episode
Tutoyer = to say tu, to address someone as tu, to use the informal tu form.
Ce professeur tutoie ses élèves (= This teacher says tu to his pupils.)
Le tutoiement = the notion of using tu
Vouvoyer = to say vous, to address someone as vous, to use the formal vous form.
Je vouvoie mon professeur (= I say vous to my teacher.)
Le vouvoiement = the notion of using vous
Se tutoyer = to say tu to each other
Se vouvoyer = to say vous to each other
“Tu peux me tutoyer!” / “Vous pouvez me tutoyer!” (= You can say tu to me !)
“On peut se tutoyer!” / “Nous pouvons nous tutoyer maintenant!” (=We can say tu to each other now !)
“On peut (peut- être) se tutoyer ?” (= (Maybe) we can say tu to one another ?)
« On se tutoie ? »
« On se dit tu ? »
“Je ne préfère pas” (= I’d rather not.)
“Je préfèrerais qu’on continue à se vouvoyer.” (= I’d prefer if we kept using the vous form for each other.)
“On se tutoie ou on se vouvoie ?” (= Shall we use tu or vous to each other ?)
« On se dit tu ou vous ? »
LINKS and RESOURCES
- My written version of this episode: https://frenchyourway.com.au/tu-or-vous
- French Voices Podcast, Episode 19 – Serge, virologist from Québec : frenchvoicespodcast.com/episode19
- Vocabulary about the in-laws – French Your Way Podcast, Episode 55 : frenchyourway.com.au/podcast55
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