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Polite form in french - when is it used?

When and to who do we use the polite form in French (vous êtes... etc)?
I know it's used for people that you don't know, or older people perhaps, but is it only then?
From movies I've watched it seems to me that even people with a great degree of intimacy use the polite form and rarely have I heard someone use the second person singular.... but maybe I'm wrong. Your feedback would help! :)

For learning: French
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    In real life, I'd say "vous" to older people because they were raised that way and you should show respect to them, and I would do the same to people in power (boss and such). I would not say "vous" to a colleague or someone younger, that would be weird for me. I don't like my students telling "vous" to me either because it makes me feel old! (actually, if I would call someone "Monsieur" or "Madame" then I'm likely to follow with the "vous" but if I call them buy their first name, then it's unlikely)

    In films, they make say "vous" all the time as it sounds a bit romantic, maybe? Or maybe the film director is old and old fashionned? It's everyone's guess.

    First of all with strangers, and not your close friends and relatives. Public dealings, and other such interactions. Non polite form is with friends an relative and children only. This is the experience in France and Switzerland, but no rules are fixed.

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