What Does “Vosotros” Mean in Spanish and Should You Use it
Vosotros means “y’all” or “you guys” in English. It’s the informal form of saying you (plural) in Spain Spanish.
In English, there is only one way of saying you. In Spanish, there are several options of saying you depending on the number of people you are talking to and the situation.
- If you are talking to one person you know well, use tú. If you don’t know them well, use usted.
- If you are talking to more than one person you know well, use ustedes. If you don’t know them well, use vosotros or vosotras.
- In Latin America, replace vosotros and vosotras with ustedes.
That’s the TL;DR version for vosotros. If you are interested in digging a littledeeper, keep reading for more about what is vosotros, when to use it and how to conjugate verbs.
In Latin America, people hardly ever use vosotros. But, if you plan to visit Spain and want to sound like a local, it’s essential to get the hang of it. Using vosotros instead of ustedes is one of the little things that sets European Spanish apart from Latin American Spanish.
Before we delve into the meaning of vosotros in English, let’s take a moment to review what are pronouns and how they function in English and Spanish. This will help us lay a strong foundation for understanding vosotros in Spanish.
Pronouns are words that are used to replace or refer to nouns in a sentence. They function as substitutes for nouns to avoid repetition, make sentences more concise, and to maintain clarity in communication. Pronouns can be divided into different categories such as personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and more.
Personal Pronouns in English
|Third person||he / she / it||they|
Personal pronouns in Spanish
|First person||yo||nosotros & nosotras|
|Second person||tú /usted||vosotros & vosotras / ustedes (formal)|
|Third person||él & ella||ellos & ellas|
As you can see from the tables above, unlike several European languages including Spanish, English does not differentiate between the second-person singular and plural pronouns. This is because of some gradual changes in the history of English. However, we can still see some informal distinctions of in English dialects around the world like y’all in American English and you guys in British English.
Spanish uses a special pronoun ustedes to show politeness and formality, like when talking to someone older than you or to someone in power. So in Spanish, use tú (informal “you”) to talk to your close friends, but to talk to your boss, use usted (formal “you”).
What is Vosotros
Now you probably understand what does vosotros mean in Spanish. Vosotros is simply the informal second-person plural pronoun used to address a group of people you are familiar with or have a close relationship with. It is the equivalent of “you all” or “y’all” in English. If you’re referring to only female plural subjects, use vosotras instead.
If we dig a little deeper, you’ll see vosotros actually combines vos (y’all) and otros (others). Can you see the link between different European languages – vocês in Portuguese, vous in French, voi in Italian, вы in Russian? This way, it’s easier to remember the meaning of vosotros, right?
When to Use Vosotros – Vosotros vs Ustedes
Now you may ask, vosotros sounds like such an important pronoun, but how come I didn’t learn it in my Spanish textbook?
Well, the answer is pretty simple. In Latin American Spanish, people don’t use vosotros. Vosotros is only used in Castilian Spanish in Spain. In Latin America, if you want to refer to a group of people, you always use the ustedes form. This is true whether you are talking to your best friends or your boss. So if you are learning Latin American Spanish, go ahead with ustedes and don’t confuse it with vosotros.
However, if you plan to visit Spain or communicate with Spaniards, knowing how to use vosotros can help you sound more like a local and blend in. Simply speaking, in Spain, people use vosotros instead of ustedes in informal settings. Ustedes, on the other hand, is only reserved for formal situations like when addressing leaders, superiors, professors, etc.
Just remember, vosotros is like y’all, and you should only use it under these three conditions: 1. You’re in Spain, 2. in informal situations, and 3. addressing more than 1 person.
Vosotros requires different verb conjugations based on the verb’s ending (–ar, -er, -ir).
The basic verb endings for vosotros are -áis/éis/ís. The table below shows how verbs conjugate according to different tenses. We have another article about Spanish verb conjugation in general if interested.
Some example sentences using vosotros conjugation:
- Podéis elegir cualquier cosa del menú. (You all can choose anything from the menu.)
- Sois mis amigos. (You all are my friends.)
- ¿Qué queréis hacer? (What do you all want to do?)
What about irregular verbs? Here is how to conjugate irregular verbs in vosotros form.
|Verb||Vosotros Form (Present Simple)|
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