T–V distinction

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The T–V distinction is the contextual use of different pronouns that exists in some languages and serves to convey formality or familiarity. Its name comes from the Latin pronouns tu and vos. The distinction takes a number of forms and indicates varying levels of politeness, familiarity, courtesy, age or even insult toward the addressee. The field that studies and describes this phenomenon is sociolinguistics.

Many languages lack this type of distinction, instead relying on other morphological or discourse features to convey formality. English historically contained the distinction, using the pronouns thou and you, but the familiar thou largely disappeared from the era of Early Modern English onward, with the exception of a few dialects. Additionally, British commoners historically spoke to nobility and royalty using the third person rather than the second person, a practice that has fallen out of favour. English speakers today often employ semantic analogues to convey the mentioned attitudes towards the addressee, such as whether to address someone by given name or surname or whether to use sir or madam. Under a broader classification, T and V forms are examples of honorifics.

The T–V distinction is expressed in a variety of forms. Two particularly common means are:

  • Addressing a single individual using the second-person plural forms in the language, instead of the singular (e.g. in French).
  • Addressing individuals with another pronoun with its own verb conjugations (e.g. in Spanish).

Origin and development[edit]

The terms T and V, based on the Latin pronouns tu and vos, were first used in a paper by the social psychologist Roger Brown and the Shakespearean scholar Albert Gilman.[1] This was a historical and contemporary survey of the uses of pronouns of address, seen as semantic markers of social relationships between individuals. The study considered mainly French, Italian, Spanish and German. The paper was highly influential[2] and, with few exceptions, the terms T and V have been used in subsequent studies.

The status of the single second-person pronoun you in English is controversial among linguistic scholars.[3] For some, the English you keeps everybody at a distance, although not to the same extent as V pronouns in other languages.[4] For others, you is a default neutral pronoun that fulfils the functions of both T and V without being the equivalent of either,[5] so an N-V-T framework is needed, where N indicates neutrality.[6]

History and usage in language[edit]

In classical Latin, tu was originally the singular, and vos the plural, with no distinction for honorific or familiar. According to Brown and Gilman, the Roman emperors began to be addressed as vos in the 4th century AD. They mention the possibility that this was because there were two emperors at that time (in Constantinople and Rome), but also mention that "plurality is a very old and ubiquitous metaphor for power." This usage was extended to other powerful figures, such as Pope Gregory I (590–604). However, Brown and Gilman note that it was only between the 12th and 14th centuries that the norms for the use of T- and V-forms crystallized. Less commonly, the use of the plural may be extended to other grammatical persons, such as the "royal we" (majestic plural) in English.

Brown and Gilman argued that the choice of form is governed by either relationships of "power" or "solidarity", depending on the culture of the speakers, showing that "power" had been the dominant predictor of form in Europe until the 20th century. Thus, it was quite normal for a powerful person to use a T-form but expect a V-form in return. However, in the 20th century the dynamic shifted in favour of solidarity, so that people would use T-forms with those they knew, and V-forms in service encounters, with reciprocal usage being the norm in both cases.

Early history: the power semantic[edit]

In the Early Middle Ages (the 5th century to the 10th century), the pronoun vos was used to address the most exalted figures, emperors and popes, who would use the pronoun tu to address a subject. This use was progressively extended to other states and societies, and down the social hierarchy as a mark of respect to individuals of higher rank, religious authority, greater wealth, or seniority within a family. The development was slow and erratic, but a consistent pattern of use is estimated to have been reached in different European societies by the period 1100 to 1500. Use of V spread to upper-class individuals of equal rank, but not to lower class individuals.[7] This may be represented in Brown and Gilman's notation:

Unequal power Equal power
Emperor Father High-class friend Low-class friend
T↓  ↑V T↓  ↑V ↓↑V T↓↑
Subject Son High-class friend Low-class friend

Modification: the solidarity semantic[edit]

Speakers developed greater flexibility of pronoun use by redefining relationships between individuals. Instead of defining the father–son relationship as one of power, it could be seen as a shared family relationship. Brown and Gilman term this the semantics of solidarity. Thus a speaker might have a choice of pronoun, depending on how they perceived the relationship with the person addressed. Thus a speaker with superior power might choose V to express fellow feeling with a subordinate. For example, a restaurant customer might use V to their favourite waiter. Similarly, a subordinate with a friendly relationship of long standing might use T. For example, a child might use T to express affection for their parent.[8]

This may be represented as:

Superior has choice Subordinate has choice
Customer Officer Employer Parent Elder sibling
T↓V  ↑V T↓V  ↑V T↓V  ↑V T↓  T↑V T↓  T↑V
Waiter Soldier Employee Child Younger sibling

These choices were available not only to reflect permanent relationships, but to express momentary changes of attitude. This allowed playwrights such as Racine, Molière, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare to express a character's inner changes of mood through outward changes of pronoun.[9][10]

For centuries, it was the more powerful individual who chose to address a subordinate either with T or with V, or to allow the subordinate to choose. For this reason, the pronouns were traditionally defined as the "pronoun of either condescension or intimacy" (T) and "the pronoun of reverence or formality" (V). Brown and Gilman argue that modern usage no longer supports these definitions.[11]

Modern history[edit]

Developments from the 19th century have seen the solidarity semantic applied more consistently. It has become less acceptable for a more powerful individual to exercise the choice of pronoun. Officers in most armies are not permitted to address a soldier as T. Most European parents cannot oblige their children to use V. The relationships illustrated above have changed in the direction of the following norms:[12]

Superior choice removed Subordinate choice removed
Customer Officer Employer Parent Elder sibling
↑↓V ↑↓V ↑↓V T↑↓ T↑↓
Waiter Soldier Employee Child Younger sibling

The tendency to promote the solidarity semantic may lead to the abolition of any choice of address pronoun. During the French Revolution, attempts were made to abolish V. In 17th century England, the Society of Friends obliged its members to use only T to everyone, and some continue to use T (thee) to one another.[13] In most Modern English dialects, the use of T is archaic and no longer exists outside of poetry or dialect.

Changes in progress[edit]

It was reported in 2012 that use of the French vous and the Spanish usted are in decline in social media.[14] An explanation offered was that such online communications favour the philosophy of social equality, regardless of usual formal distinctions. Similar tendencies were observed in German, Persian, Chinese, Italian and Estonian.[14][15]

History of use in individual languages[edit]


The Old English and Early Middle English second person pronouns thou and ye (with variants) were used for singular and plural reference respectively with no T–V distinction. The earliest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary for ye as a V pronoun in place of the singular thou exists in a Middle English text of 1225 composed in 1200.[16] The usage may have started among the Norman French nobility in imitation of Old French. It made noticeable advances during the second half of the 13th century. During the 16th century, the distinction between the subject form ye and the object form you was largely lost, leaving you as the usual V pronoun (and plural pronoun). After 1600, the use of ye in standard English was confined to literary and religious contexts or as a consciously archaic usage.[17]

David Crystal summarises Early Modern English usage thus:

V would normally be used

  • by people of lower social status to those above them
  • by the upper classes when talking to each other, even if they were closely related
  • as a sign of a change (contrasting with thou) in the emotional temperature of an interaction

T would normally be used

  • by people of higher social status to those below them
  • by the lower classes when talking to each other
  • in addressing God or Jesus
  • in talking to ghosts, witches, and other supernatural beings
  • in an imaginary address to someone who was absent
  • as a sign of a change (contrasting with you) in the emotional temperature of an interaction[18]

The T–V distinction was still well preserved when Shakespeare began writing at the end of the 16th century. However, other playwrights of the time made less use of T–V contrasts than Shakespeare. The infrequent use of T in popular writing earlier in the century such as the Paston Letters suggest that the distinction was already disappearing from gentry speech. In the first half of the 17th century, thou disappeared from Standard English, although the T–V distinction was preserved in many regional dialects. When the Quakers began using thou again in the middle of the century, many people were still aware of the old T–V distinction and responded with derision and physical violence.[citation needed]

In the 19th century, one aspect of the T–V distinction was restored to some English dialects in the form of a pronoun that expressed friendly solidarity, written as y'all. Unlike earlier thou, it was used primarily for plural address, and in some dialects for singular address as well.[19] The pronoun was first observed in the southern states of the US among African-American speakers, although its precise origin is obscure. The pronoun spread rapidly to white speakers in those southern states, and (to a lesser extent) other regions of the US and beyond. This pronoun is not universally accepted, and may be regarded as either nonstandard or a regionalism.[20]

Yous(e) (pron. /jz/, /jəz/) as a plural is found mainly in (Northern) England, Scotland, parts of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, northern Nova Scotia and parts of Ontario in Canada and parts of the northeastern United States (especially areas where there was historically Irish or Italian immigration), including in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and scattered throughout working class Italian-American communities in the American Rust Belt.


In Old French texts, the pronouns tu and vous are often used interchangeably to address an individual, sometimes in the same sentence. However, some emerging pattern of use has been detected by recent scholars.[21] Between characters equal in age or rank, vous was more common than tu as a singular address. However, tu was sometimes used to put a young man in his place, or to express temporary anger. There may also have been variation between Parisian use and that of other regions.

In the Middle French period, a relatively stable T–V distinction emerged. Vous was the V form used by upper-class speakers to address one another, while tu was the T form used among lower class speakers. Upper-class speakers could choose to use either T or V when addressing an inferior. Inferiors would normally use V to a superior. However, there was much variation; in 1596, Étienne Pasquier observed in his comprehensive survey Recherches de la France that the French sometimes used vous to inferiors as well as to superiors "selon la facilité de nos naturels" ("according to our natural tendencies"). In poetry, tu was often used to address kings or to speak to God.[22]


In German, Du is only used as an informal pronoun. It is only addressed to persons that one knows well, like family members and friends. It is also most commonly used among peers as a sign of equality, especially among young people. In formal situations with strangers and acquaintances, Sie is used instead. "Ihr" was also used in formal situations; this was once the abundant usage, but it has completely fallen out of use. In the plural form, "ihr" is used as the "T" pronoun and "Sie" is used as the "V" pronoun; "Ihr" and "Sie" are capitalized when they are used as the "V" pronoun.

Scandinavian languages[edit]

A T–V distinction was once widespread in the North Germanic languages but its use began rapidly declining in the second half of the 20th century,[23][24] coinciding with the 1960s youth rebellion.[24] The V variant has in practice completely disappeared from regular speech in Swedish[citation needed], Norwegian and Icelandic.[23] In Faroese, however, it is still occasionally used.

The use of the V variant in Danish has declined dramatically, but as of 2023 not completely disappeared.[24] In Danish the T variant is "du" and the V variant is a capitalized "De".[24]

Swedish both had a V-variant of "you" and an even more formal manner of addressing people, which was to address them in the third person ("Could I ask Mr. Johnson to...").[23]


Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani) have three levels of formality distinction. The pronoun तू تو (tū) is the informal (intimate) pronoun, तुम تم (tum) is the familiar pronoun and आप آپ (āp) is the formal pronoun. Tū is only used in certain contexts in Urdu, as in normal conversation, the use of tū is considered very rude. The pronoun तू تو (tū) is grammatically singular while the pronouns तुम تم (tum) and आप آپ (āp) are grammatically plural. However, the plural pronouns are more commonly used as singular pronouns and to explicitly mark the plurality, words such as लोग لوگ (log) [people], सब سب (sab) [all], दोनों دونوں (donõ) [both], तीनों تینوں (tīnõ) [all three] etc. are added after the plural pronouns.[25]

In the Western Hindi dialects, a fourth level of formality (semi-formal), which is intermediate between आप آپ (āp) and तुम تم (tum), is created when the pronoun आप آپ (āp) is used with the conjugations of तुम تم (tum). However, this form is strictly dialectal and is not used in standard versions of Urdu and Hindi.

Use of names[edit]

The boundaries between formal and informal language differ from language to language, as well as within social groups of the speakers of a given language. In some circumstances, it is not unusual to call other people by first name and the respectful form, or last name and familiar form. For example, German teachers used to use the former construct with upper-secondary students, while Italian teachers typically use the latter (switching to a full V-form with university students). This can lead to constructions denoting an intermediate level of formality in T–V-distinct languages that sound awkward to English-speakers. In Italian, (Signor) Vincenzo Rossi can be addressed with the tu (familiar) form or the Lei (formal) one, but complete addresses range from Tu, Vincenzo (peer to peer or family) and Tu, Rossi (teacher to high-school student, as stated above) to Lei, signor Vincenzo (live-in servant to master or master's son) and Lei, Rossi (senior staff member to junior) and Lei, signor Rossi (among peers and to seniors).[citation needed]

Usage in language[edit]

Singular, plural and other ways of distinction[edit]

In many languages, the respectful singular pronoun derives from a plural form. Some Romance languages have familiar forms derived from the Latin singular tu and respectful forms derived from Latin plural vos, sometimes via a circuitous route. Sometimes, a singular V-form derives from a third-person pronoun; in German and some Nordic languages, it is the third-person plural. Some languages have separate T and V forms for both singular and plural, others have the same form and others have a T–V distinction only in the singular.

Different languages distinguish pronoun uses in different ways. Even within languages, there are differences between groups (older people and people of higher status tending both to use and to expect more respectful language) and between various aspects of one language. For example, in Dutch, the V form u is slowly falling into disuse in the plural and so one could sometimes address a group as T form jullie, which clearly expresses the plural when one would address each member individually as u, which has the disadvantage of being ambiguous. In Latin American Spanish, the opposite change has occurred—having lost the T form vosotros, Latin Americans address all groups as ustedes, even if the group is composed of friends whom they would call or vos (both T forms).[citation needed] In Standard Peninsular Spanish, however, vosotros (literally "you others") is still regularly used in informal conversation. In some cases, the V-form is likely to be capitalized when it is written.

Nominative case[edit]

The following is a table of the nominative case of the singular and plural second person in many languages, including their respectful variants (if any):

Language second-person singular familiar second-person singular respectful second-person plural familiar second-person plural respectful
Afrikaans jy
u[26] julle u[26]
Albanian ti ju ju ju
Amharic አንተ (antä, m)
አንቺ (anči, f)
እስዎ (ɨsswo)
እርስዎ (ɨrswo)
እናንተ (ɨnnantä) እስዎ (ɨsswo)
እርስዎ (ɨrswo)
Arabic أنتَ‎ (anta, m)
أنتِ‎ (anti, f)
antum[citation needed]
antum (m)
antunna (f)
antum (m)
antunna (f)
Aragonese tu vusté
vos (Ansó dialect)
vusaltros (regional)
vusotros (regional)
vos (Ansó dialect)
Armenian դու (du, east)
դուն (tun, west)
դուք (duk, east)
դուք (tuk, west)
դուք (duk, east)
դուք (tuk, west)
դուք (duk, east)
դուք (tuk, west)
Assamese তই (toi; informal)
তুমি (tumi; familiar)
আপুনি (apuni) তহঁত (tohõt; informal)
তোমালোক (tümalük; familiar)
আপোনালোক (apünalük)
Azerbaijani (Azeri) sən siz siz siz
Basque hi (intimate)
zu (standard)
zu (standard)
berori (very respectful)
zuek zuek
Belarusian ты (ty) (Vy) вы (vy) вы (vy)
Bengali তুই (tui; very informal)
তুমি (tumi)
আপনি (apni) তোরা (tora; very informal)
তোমরা (tomra)
আপনারা (apnara)
Bodo नों (nwng) नोंथां (nwngtang) नोंसोर (nwngswr) नोंथांसोर (nwngtangswr)
Breton te c'hwi c'hwi c'hwi
Bulgarian ти (ti) Вие (Vie) вие (vie) вие (vie)
Catalan tu vostè (formal)
vós (respectful)
vosaltres vostès (formal)
Mandarin Chinese (Modern) () (nín)[30] s 你们 nǐmen
t 你們
Czech ty Vy vy vy
Danish du De (increasingly uncommon, very rarely used) I De (increasingly uncommon)
Dutch jij
u jullie[32] u
Early Modern English thou (nom)
thee (obj)
ye[33] (nom)
you (obj)
ye[33] (nom)
you (obj)
ye[33] (nom)
you (obj)
Late Modern English you you you you
Esperanto vi, ci (uncommon) vi vi vi
Estonian sina
Faroese tygum[34] tit tit
Finnish sinä te[35] (uncommon) te te
French tu vous
il/elle (show deference)
vous vous
ils/elles (show deference)
Frisian (west) jo[26] jimme jimme
Scottish Gaelic thu / thusa (emphatic) sibh / sibhse (emphatic) sibh / sibhse (emphatic) sibh / sibhse (emphatic)
Galician ti (tu, eastern dialect) vostede vós (vosoutros, northeastern dialect) vostedes
Georgian შენ (shen) თქვენ (tkven) თქვენ (tkven) თქვენ (tkven)
German du sie[36]
ihr (arch or dial)
er/sie/es[37] (arch or dial)
ihr sie[36]
ihr (arch or dial)
Modern Greek εσύ (esí) εσείς (esís) εσείς (esís) εσείς (esís)
Gujarati તું (tu) તમે (tame) તમે લોકો (tame loko) તમે લોકો (tame loko)
Hindi तू () (intimate)

तुम (tum) (familiar)

आप (āp) तुम (tum) आप (āp)
Hungarian te maga (a bit old-fashioned, can be impolite)
ön (formal and official)
ti maguk (a bit old-fashioned, can be impolite)
önök (formal and official)
Icelandic þú þér (very uncommon) þið þér (very uncommon)
Ido tu vu vi vi
Indonesian kamu (more familiar)
Anda kalian Anda
Anda sekalian (less common)
Interlingua tu vos vos vos
Italian tu Lei
Voi (arch or dial)
voi Loro (increasingly uncommon)
Japanese (proper nouns and/or common nouns) (proper nouns and/or common nouns) (proper nouns and/or common nouns) (proper nouns and/or common nouns)
Javanese ꦏꦺꦴꦮꦺ (kowé)
ꦲꦮꦏ꧀ꦩꦸ (awakmu)
ꦥꦚ꧀ꦗꦼꦤꦼꦔꦤ꧀ (panjenengan)
ꦱꦩ꧀ꦥꦺꦪꦤ꧀ (sampéyan)
ꦏꦺꦴꦮꦺꦏꦧꦺꦃ (kowé kabèh) ꦥꦚ꧀ꦗꦼꦤꦼꦔꦤ꧀ꦰꦼꦢꦤ꧀ꦠꦼꦤ꧀ (panjenengan sedanten)
Kannada ನೀನು (niinnu) ನೀವು (niivu) ನೀವು (niivu) ನೀವು (niivu)
Kazakh сен (sen) сіз (siz) сендер (sender) сіздер (sizder)
Korean (neo) (directly addressing a person);
당신 (dangsin)(addressing anonymous readers)
너희 (neohui) – (여러분 yeoreobun)
Ekoka !Kung a i!a i!a i!a
(N. Kurdish)
تو (tu) هون (hûn)
هنگۆ (hingo)
تو (tu)
هون (hûn)
هنگۆ (hingo)
هون (hûn)
هنگۆ (hingo)
(S. Kurdish)
تۆ (to) ێوه (êwe)
تۆ (to)
ێوه (êwe) ێوه (êwe)
Kyrgyz сен (sen) сиз (siz) силер (siler) сиздер (sizder)
Ladino טו בֿוס vos בֿוזוטרוס vozótros בֿוזוטרוס vozótros
Latvian tu[38] jūs[38] jūs jūs
Lithuanian tu jūs jūs jūs
Lombard ti
lüü (m)
lée (f)
viòltar viòltar

Malay kamu (standard), awak (regional; common spoken short form is engkau informal), hang (northern dialect, but understood and accepted across Peninsular Malaysia), kau (impolite in all contexts except in very close relationships, e.g. friends [but not acquaintances]) anda (polite/friendly formal; found in formal documents and in all formal contexts, e.g. advertisements. Anda almost never occurs in spoken Malay; instead, most Malaysians would address a respected person by their title and/or name), kamu (unfriendly formal; also found in formal documents and in all formal contexts, where the intention is to convey a forceful tone in writing—often seen in lawsuits and summonses). kamu semua (polite/friendly formal), kau orang (when pronounced as ko'rang [used in very close relationships, equivalent to "you all" in parts of the U.S.] is slang and more informal), hangpa (northern dialect), kalian (archaic) anda, kalian (archaic)
Malayalam നീ താങ്കൾ നിങ്ങൾ നിങ്ങൾ
Macedonian ти (ti) Вие (Vie) вие (vie) вие (vie)
Marathi तू तुम्ही tumhī (formal),
आपण āpaṇ (official)
तुम्ही tumhī तुम्ही tumhī (formal),
आपण āpaṇ (official)
Mongolian чи (chi, ᠴᠢ) та (ta, ᠲᠠ) та нар (ta nar, ᠲᠠ ᠨᠠᠷ) та нар (ta nar, ᠲᠠ ᠨᠠᠷ)
Nepali तँ, तिमी (, timi) तपाईं (tapāī̃) तिमी(-हरू) (timi[-harū]) तपाईं(-हरू) (tapāī̃[-harū])
Norwegian (Bokmål) du/deg De/Dem (archaic) dere/dere De/Dem (archaic)
Norwegian (Nynorsk) De/Dykk (archaic) de/dykk De/Dykk (archaic)
Odia ତୁ tu
ତୁମେ tumē
ଆପଣ āpaṇa ତୁମେମାନେ tumemane ଆପଣମାନେ apōṇōmane
Persian تو to شما šomā شما šomā شما/شماها šomā/šomâ-hâ
Polish ty pani (to a woman)
pan (to a man)
(verbs following any of the above addresses are in the 3rd person singular form)
wy państwo (general)
panie (to women)
panowie (to men)
(verbs following any of the above addresses are in the 3rd person plural form, although in many cases for państwo (general) the 2nd person plural form is also possible).
Portuguese in Portugal, Africa, and Asia-Pacific tu você; o senhor/a senhora, dona; vossa excelência (o / a; lhe; si; se; lo/la)
(Vós / O Senhor / A Senhora when addressing a deity, Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary)
vós (dialects of northern Portugal)
os senhores/as senhoras; vossas excelências
Brazilian Portuguese você (and te, oblique form of tu, combined with você for a more familiar tone), tu vocês
Punjabi ਤੂੰ‌ / تُوں tū̃ ਤੁਸੀਂ‌ / تُسیں tusī̃ ਤੁਸੀਂ‌ / تُسیں tusī̃ ਤੁਸੀਂ‌ / تسیں tusī̃
Quenya (Tolkien's High Elvish) tyë lyë
Romanian tu dumneavoastră (formal)

dumneata (less formal, possibly confrontational)

matale, mata (regional, possibly confrontational)

voi dumneavoastră (formal)

domniile voastre (archaic)

Russian ты (ty) narrowly reserved intimates (or for insults) вы (vy) the unmarked norm
the capitalised spelling Вы is used in formal correspondence
вы (vy)
not capitalised
вы (vy)
not capitalised
Rusyn ты () () вы () вы ()
Sanskrit त्वम् (tvam)
त्वा (tva, acc) and ते (te, dat and gen) also used in poetry/verse
भवान् (bhavān, addressing a man, root भवत्)
भवती (bhavatī, addressing a woman)
युवाम् (dual, yuvām)
यूयम् (plural, yūyam)
(वाम् (vam, dual) and वः (vaḥ, plural) for accusative, dative and genitive also used in poetry)
भवन्तौ (dual, bhavantau, addressing men)
भवत्यौ (dual, bhavatyau, addressing women)
भवन्तः (plural, bhavantaḥ, addressing men)
भवत्यः (plural, bhavatyaḥ, addressing women)
Scots thoo, mostly replaced by ye
[ðuː], Southern [ðʌu], Shetland [duː]
ye, you ye, you ye, you
Serbo-Croatian ти / ti Ви / Vi ви / vi ви / vi
Slovak ty Vy vy vy
Slovene ti vi
Vi (protocolar)
vidva (dual)
vidve or vedve (dual – when addressing two women);
vi (plural)
ve (plural – when addressing only women)
vi (dual and plural)
Sorbian (lower) ty Wy wej (dual), wy (plural) wy
Sorbian (upper) ty Wy wój (dual), wy (plural) wy
Somali adi adiga idinka idinka
Spanish (most common)

vos (in parts of the Americas, mainly in the Southern Cone and Central America)

usted (el otro usted: for informal, horizontal communication in Costa Rica and parts of Colombia)

usted (most common)

(in Cuba and Puerto Rico)

vos, usía and vuecencia/vuecelencia (literary use)

ustedes (the Americas)

vosotros masc. and vosotras fem. (Peninsular Spain, Equatorial Guinea, Philippines)[39]


vosotros, vosotras (literary)

Swedish du/dig Ni/Er (rarely used since the Du-reformen) ni/er Ni/Er (rarely used)
Tagalog ikáw
ka (postpositive only)
kayó kayó kayó
Tajik ту (tu) Шумо (Şumo) шумо (şumo) шумо (şumo) or шумоён (şumojon; the latter is used in spoken Tajik only)
Tamil நீ (née) நீங்கள் (neengal) நீங்கள் (neengal) நீங்கள் (neengal)
Telugu నువ్వు (nuvvu) మీరు (meeru) మీరు (meeru) మీరు (meeru)
Turkish sen siz, sizler siz siz, sizler
Ubykh wæghʷa sʸæghʷaalha sʸæghʷaalha sʸæghʷaalha
Ukrainian ти (ty) ви (vy) / Ви (Vy, addressing officials in letters etc.) ви (vy) ви (vy)
Urdu تو (, frozen or intimate or vulgar)
تم (tum, casual)
آپ (āp, consultative, dialectal)
آپ (āp) تم (tum, intimate or rude)
آپ (āp, casual)
آپ (āp)
Uyghur سەن sen سىز siz or سىلى sili سىلەر siler سىزلەر sizler
Uzbek sen siz senlar sizlar
Welsh (literary) ti, di chwi (preferred) or chi chwi (preferred) or chi chwi (preferred) or chi
Welsh (colloquial) ti, di or chdi (regional variant, not possible when the subject) chi chi chi
Yiddish דו (du) איר (ir) איר (ir)
עץ (ets, regional)
איר (ir)

Related verbs, nouns and pronouns[edit]

Some languages have a verb to describe the fact of using either a T or a V form. Some also have a related noun or pronoun. The English words are used to refer only to English usage in the past, not to usage in other languages. The analogous distinction may be expressed as "to use first names" or "to be on familiar terms (with someone)".

Related T and V words
Language T verb V verb T noun V noun
Assamese তই-তইকৈ মাত (toi-toikoi mat) (very informal), তোমা-তুমিকৈ মাত (tüma-tumikoi mat) (familiar) আপোনা-আপুনিকৈ মাত (apüna-apunikoi mat) তই-তই কৰা (toi-toi kora) (very informal), তোমা-তুমি কৰা (tüma-tumi kora) (familiar) আপোনা-আপুনি কৰা (apüna-apuni kora)
Basque hika aritu / hika hitz egin (very close) zuka aritu / zuka hitz egin (neuter / formal)
berorika (aritu / hitz egin) (very formal)
Bengali তুইতোকারি করা (tuitokāri kôrā) (very informal) আপনি-আজ্ঞে করা (āpni-āgge kôrā) তুইতোকারি (very informal)
Breton teal / mont dre te / komz dre te c'hwial / mont dre c'hwi / komz dre c'hwi
Bulgarian (говоря / съм) на "ти" (govorya / sam) na "ti" (говоря / съм) на "Вие" (govorya / sam) na "Vie" на "ти" na "ti" (more like adverb) на "Вие" na "Vie" (more like adverb)
Catalan tutejar / tractar de tu / vós tractar de vostè tuteig, tutejament
Chinese 稱(呼)"你" (chēng(hū) nǐ) / 說"你" (shuō nǐ) 稱(呼)"您" (chēng(hū) nín) / 說"您" (shuō nín)
Czech tykat vykat tykání vykání
Danish at være dus at være Des
Dutch tutoyeren; jijen, jouen, jijjouwen (used very rarely) vousvoyeren tutoyeren vousvoyeren
English to thou (referring to historical usage) to you (referring to historical usage) thouing youing
Esperanto cidiri vidiri cidiro vidiro
Estonian sinatama teietama sinatamine teietamine
Faroese at túa, at siga tú at siga tygum
Finnish sinutella teititellä sinuttelu teitittely
French tutoyer vouvoyer; very rarely vousoyer / voussoyer tutoiement vouvoiement; very rarely vousoiement / voussoiement
Frisian (West) dookje jookje dookjen jookjen
Galician tratar de ti tratar de vostede -
German duzen siezen Duzen Siezen
Swiss German Duzis machen Siezis machen Duzis Siezis
Greek Μιλώ στον ενικό Μιλώ στον πληθυντικό Πληθυντικός ευγενείας
Hindi तूतड़ाक करना (tūtaɽāk karnā)
Hungarian tegez magáz tegezés magázás
Icelandic þúa þéra þúun þérun
Interlingua tutear vosear tuteamento voseamento
Italian dare del tu (intransitive) / tuteggiare (transitive, archaic) dare del Lei / dare del Voi
Indonesian mengamukan (transitive); berkamu (intransitive); menggunakan kamu mengandakan (transitive); beranda (intransitive); menggunakan Anda pengamuan; penggunaan kamu pengandaan; penggunaan Anda
Korean 말을 놓다 (mareul notta); 반말하다 (banmalhada) 말을 높이다 (mareul nophida); 존댓말하다 (jondaemmalhada); 반말 (banmal) 높임말 (nopphim mal); 존댓말 (jondaemmal)
Lithuanian tujinti tujinimas
Norwegian å være dus å være dis
Occitan tutejar vosejar tutejament vosejament
Polish mówić per ty
tykać (humorous)
mówić per pan / pani mówienie per ty mówienie per pan / pani
Portuguese tratar por tu, você; chamar de tu, você tratar por senhor / senhora / senhorita; chamar de senhor / senhora / senhorita o senhor / a senhora
Romanian a tutui a domni tutuire plural de politeţe
Russian обращаться на "ты"
быть на "ты"
тыкать (tykat') (colloquial)
обращаться на "вы"
быть на "вы"
выкать (vykat') (colloquial)
тыканье (tykan'ye) выканье (vykan'ye)
Serbian не персирати (ne persirati),
бити на ти (biti na ti),
тикати (tikati)
персирати (persirati),
бити на ви (biti na vi),
викати (vikati)
неперсирање (nepersiranje),
тикање (tikanje)
персирање (persiranje),
викање (vikanje)
Slovak tykať vykať tykanie vykanie
Slovene tikati vikati tikanje vikanje
Upper Sorbian ty prajić, tykać wy rěkać / prajić, wykać tykanje wykanje
Lower Sorbian ty groniś, tykaś (se) {lit.} wy groniś, wykaś {lit.} ty gronjenje, tykanje wy gronjenje, wykanje
Spanish tutear, vosear ustedear; tratar de usted tuteo, voseo ustedeo
Swedish dua nia duande niande
Turkish senli benli olmak / konuşmak, sen diye çağırmak sizli bizli olmak / konuşmak, siz diye çağırmak senli benli sizli bizli
Ukrainian тикати (tykaty),
звертатися на "ти" (zvertatysia na "ty")
викати (vykaty),
звертатися на "ви" (zvertatysia na "vy")
тикання (tykannia),
звертання на ти (zvertannia na ty)
викання (vykannia),
звертання на ви (zvertannia na vy)
Urdu تو تکار کرنا (tu tukaar karna) تو تکار (tu tukaar)
Welsh tydïo galw chi ar X tydïo galw chi ar X
Yiddish דוצן (dutsn)
זײַן אױף דו (zayn af du)
זײַן פּער דו (zayn per du)
אירצן (irtsn)
זײַן אױף איר (zayn af ir)
דוצן (dutsn)
אַריבערגיין אױף דו (aribergeyn af du)
אירצן (irtsn)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity published in T.A Seboek (ed) (1960). Republished in Giglioli (1972). The page numbers cited below are from Giglioli.
  2. ^ Giglioli p. 217
  3. ^ Formentelli, Maicol; Hajek, John (2016). "Address Practices in Academic Interactions in a Pluricentric Language: Australian English, American English, and British English" (PDF). Pragmatics. 26 (4): 631–652. doi:10.1075/prag.26.4.05for. hdl:11343/129713. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  4. ^ Wierzbicka, Anna (2003). Cross-cultural pragmatics. The semantics of human interaction (2nd ed.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  5. ^ Clyne, Michael (2009). "Address in intercultural communication across languages". Intercultural Pragmatics. 9 (3): 395–409.
  6. ^ Cook, Manuela (2019). "Chapter 1: N-V-T, a framework for the analysis of social dynamics in address pronouns". In Bouissac, Paul (ed.). The Social Dynamics of Pronominal Systems. John Benjamins. pp. 17–34. ISBN 978-90-272-0316-8.
  7. ^ Brown & Gilman pp. 254–255
  8. ^ Brown & Gilman pp. 257–258
  9. ^ Brown & Gilman pp. 278–280
  10. ^ Crystal, David & Ben (2002) pp. 450–451. Reproduced at David Crystal's Explore Shakespeare's Works site
  11. ^ Brown & Gilman p. 258
  12. ^ Brown & Gilman pp. 269–261
  13. ^ Brown & Gilman pp. 266–268
  14. ^ a b Lawn, Rebecca (7 September 2012). "Tu and Twitter: Is it the end for 'vous' in French?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  15. ^ Põhjala, Priit (12 April 2013). Kas teietada või sinatada?, Eesti Päevaleht.
  16. ^ ye, pron. and n.. Retrieved 10 November 2018. a1225 (▸c1200) Vices & Virtues (1888) 31 (MED): Hwo is þat us muȝen sceawin ða gode ðe ȝe us behoteð? {{cite encyclopedia}}: |work= ignored (help)
  17. ^ "Interlude 12 : Choosing thou or you" David Crystal (2004) pp. 307–310
  18. ^ Crystal (2004) p. 308
  19. ^ Schneider, Edgar W. (2005). "The English dialect heritage of the southern United States". In Hickey, Raymond (ed.). Legacies of Colonial English. Cambridge University Press. p. 284. ISBN 9781139442381.
  20. ^ "Interlude 17, Tracking a change: the case of y'all" Crystal (2004) pp. 449–452
  21. ^ Summarised in Fagyal et al. (2006) pp. 267–268
  22. ^ Fagyal et al. p. 268
  23. ^ a b c "Þéranir á meðal vor" (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 29 October 1999.
  24. ^ a b c d Oskar Bandle; Kurt Braunmüller; Lennart Elmevik (2002). The Nordic Languages: An International Handbook of the History of the North Germanic Languages. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1631–. ISBN 978-3-11-017149-5.
  25. ^ First-Year Hindi Course (Part one), H.H. Van Olphen (page 30-32) https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/46086/First_Year_Hindi_Course-Part_1.pdf?sequence=2
  26. ^ a b c As with many instances in English, the pronoun is capitalized when talking to God, as in prayer.
  27. ^ In some spoken varieties of Arabic such as Egyptian, terms such as ‏حضرتك‎ (ḥaḍretak) ("your grace") or ‏سيادتك‎ (siyadtak) ("your lordship") are used
  28. ^ In some spoken varieties of Arabic such as Egyptian, terms such as ḥaḍretkum ("your graces") or siyadetkum ("your lordships") are used
  29. ^ Technically a "double plural", sometimes employed for a small group of people.
  30. ^ Only commonly employed in northern dialects like Pekingese, which is from 你们 nǐmen. Wang Li states that is derived from the fusion of the syllables of 你们, making its origin analogous to v- pronouns in several European language families in being derived from the second person plural. In support of this hypothesis, the expression 您们 for the formal second person plural is traditionally regarded as wrong, and remains rare in Mainland China (although it is more commonly used in Taiwan).
  31. ^ Including 大家 (dàjiā) and 各位 (gèwèi). In the past 您们 (nínmen) was considered incorrect, but is now used more frequently, especially in Taiwan.
  32. ^ From obsolete jelui = jij + lui = "you people"
  33. ^ a b c As grammatical case largely disappeared during the transition from Late Middle English to Early Modern English, ye was often replaced with you from the 15th century on.
  34. ^ Only common in official documents.
  35. ^ Necessitates compound verb forms with participle in singular.
  36. ^ a b Even as a 2nd-person pronoun, sie employs 3rd-person (plural) verb conjugations.
  37. ^ employs 3rd-person singular verb conjugations. Derisive.
  38. ^ a b Capitalized in correspondence.
  39. ^ Lipski, John (2004). "The Spanish Language of Equatorial Guinea". Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. 8: 120–123. doi:10.1353/hcs.2011.0376. JSTOR 20641705.


External links[edit]