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How to say you in French?

There are two forms of “you” in French: “tu” and “vous”.

If modern English doesn’t have that difference anymore, it used to. Shakespeare uses “you” and “thou”.

tu = you

vous = thou

There are two rules regarding the usage of “tu” and “vous” in French.

1.Old English used “you” to refer to one person (singular) and “though” to refer to several people (plural). The same logic applies to French. Exemple: Pierre, tu regardes la télé ?– Pierre, are you watching TV? Exemple: Marie et Sophie, vous avez vu le nouveau James Bond ? Mary and Sophie, did you see the new James Bond?

2.The second rule refers to a certain number of social codes. – the use of “tu”: informality between friends an adult talking to a child – the use of “vous” formality to acknowledge hierarchy (an employee talking to his boss and vice versa) you can refer to someone by his or her first name and still you the “vous” form; however this is rather old-fashioned. Général Charles de Gaulle would use “vous” and her first name to talk to his wife.


If uncertain about “tutoyer” or “vouvoyer” someone, go with the latter.

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Have a great week!


Your French Teacher