VOS vs. TÚ

How problematic is it to choose between “tú” and “vos”? I think it is much more insignificant than it is generally thought to be:

Firstly, because there are formal differences in only two tenses: Indicative present and imperative mood -also in subjunctive present but it is less usual-; and lastly, because no matter which form you choose, it does not represent a problem understanding or being understood by other Spanish speakers from other countries.

Which are these differences?

Indicative present:

Vos: No irregularities, stress on the last syllable, change in the ending of “ir” verbs. There is only one irregular verb in the “vos” form for the present tense: SER. IR is also irregular but it’s exactly like “tú”.

Pens.ar Pod.er Ped.ir S.er
Piens.as Pued.es Pid.es Eres
Vos Pens.ás Pod.és Ped.ís Sos

Imperative mood (affirmative):

Vos: No irregularities, stress on the last syllable, change in the ending of “ir” verbs. There is only one irregular verb in the “vos” form for the imperative tense: IR

Pens.ar Pod.er Ped.ir Ir
Piens.a Pued.e Pid.e Ve
Vos Pens.á Pod.é Ped.í Andá

So, if you consider the whole scene, it is not a big deal at all. Who would I suggest to learn one form and who, the other one? I would encourage people on vacation to learn or use “tú” conjugation, especially the ones who have already learnt it and who are staying here for little time and/or only for tourism; whereas, I would totally recommend “vos” forms to the following people:

*  Tango lovers (Tango would not exist without “vos” and viceversa).

*  The ones who move to BA for work or studies.

*  Or simply too lazy students (“vos” is way more regular than “tú”).

¡Buena suerte!

6 thoughts on “VOS vs. TÚ

  1. srjordan says:

    Me gusta el resumen. I’ve noticed sometimes (and this might just be more ignorance than grammatical correctness/incorrectness) that people will also (whether the tuteo or voseo) in the preterite indicative will add an ‘s’ which sounds more like the vosotros.
    Ex: ¿Comprastes la camisa?
    Do you notice that much where you are?

  2. JuJu says:

    Native speakers almost always add the s in the pret. indic. I’ve noticed that with every speaker I’ve talked to from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. I’m sure most people do it, it makes sense since the present indic. there is always an S at the end of that form compras –> comprastes.

  3. JuJu says:

    But I don’t see it with higher/formally educated people, I meant to add. I think it’s a native Spanish vs. learned Spanish thing.

  4. sofiabohmer says:

    Thanks, both of you for your comments.

    The same phenomenon happens in Buenos Aires.
    It is true that this occurrence does not appear in learning books, neither are they taught as correct in school. True that it is attributed to people with no formal education.
    However, language is a complex entity. It is not only a linguistic phenomenon but also a social one: it´s a membership mark used by the members of a certain group to show they belong to it.
    As I see it, analyzing it in terms of native Spanish/learned Spanish or correct/incorrect would be to remain on the surface of the problem while -unconsciously- stigmatizing not a linguistic form, but the linguistic community who speaks it.

  5. Señor Jordan says:

    I would equate the confusion of ‘-as’ & ‘-astes’ to alguien & nadie.

    Many hispanics I have met over the years who have immigrated to the US to work in factories think that you say ‘nadien’ instead of ‘nadie’ because if ‘alguien’ ends with an ‘n’, why wouldn’t the opposite?

    The reasoning makes sense similar to with the present and preterit indicative. Descriptively, the communication occurred, the symbol was conveyed adequately to the hearer. But prescriptively, it’s incorrect.

  6. sofiabohmer says:

    I have never heard that use here in BA but I agree: It must be the same phenomenon.
    I have just realized that we didn´t discuss the cause of the ending “-astes” in here.

    What I suggested to explain that use is that there is a trend among certain groups of speakers to regularize language forms.
    For example:
    If the second person singular, present, indicative of verbs ends in “-as, -es” >> Quieres, Piensas, etc… then speakers extend that rule to other tenses like preterite. For example: quisiste >> quisistes.

    The same happens with “alguien/nadien” (as presented by Jordan)

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