For once and for all, when should I use "vous"? I have offended people by "vous"ing them... Thanks guys. I know the basic rules but on more than one social occasion, I have used "vous" incorrectly. I thought that it was appropriate for a stranger who I was meeting for the first time but apparently it was not because we were at a party. The other time, it was an older person (a few years) but he thought that we on equal terms and was offended that he was considered an older man. I have heard that even some French people will have entire conversations without using "you" to avoid the whole issue.
Mar 27, 2011 4:44 PM
Answers · 3
I agree, but I would like to add something. If you felt that you offended someone by using "vous", it's likely because this person was the same age as you, and was seeing you as an equal. For example, other students if you're a student, or your direct colleagues (being or not the same age). I think most of the people would just find it funny, but some would actually feel offended. And remember: if you're talking to someone who has the same status as yourself, and you say "vous", the more he/she will find you young or pretty, the more likely he/she will be offended. I've experienced it with a 45 yrs old "colleague" (I was 20 and I was a trainee..). Don't worry too much about those ! Keep saying "vous" to strangers and people you see as superiors. People younger than you will be pleased to be called "vous", and some elders who can't admit they're actually not so young won't. It can't be helped !
March 27, 2011
I agree with the comment left before me. 'Vous' is truly the safer option to use, as 'tu' can be quite offensive if used to a complete stranger or someone that you should show respect to. However, if someone that you've been speaking to or have a relationship with says that it is acceptable to 'se tutoyer', then you should switch to 'tu.'
March 27, 2011
"vous" is used to show respect when you talk with a stranger, with someone older than you or with your superiors like a teacher or a boss.
March 27, 2011
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