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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need advice as to the correct form of address when speaking to strangers or people I just meet regularly when dog-walking. Spaniards are so sociable and chatty and I often find myself having lengthy conversations with people I meet on the beach -we usually start off with dogs then get on to family and life history - but I'm never sure whether to use 'tu' or 'Usted'.
As a polite sort of person I tend towards 'Usted' but I find that 90% of the time I'm answered with 'tu'.
These conversations are great - I've made a few interesting friends and it's really good for my Spanish - but I'm keen to get it right and don't want to cause gratuitous offence.
Advice, please:)
 

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I need advice as to the correct form of address when speaking to strangers or people I just meet regularly when dog-walking. Spaniards are so sociable and chatty and I often find myself having lengthy conversations with people I meet on the beach -we usually start off with dogs then get on to family and life history - but I'm never sure whether to use 'tu' or 'Usted'.
As a polite sort of person I tend towards 'Usted' but I find that 90% of the time I'm answered with 'tu'.
These conversations are great - I've made a few interesting friends and it's really good for my Spanish - but I'm keen to get it right and don't want to cause gratuitous offence.
Advice, please:)
I think people use much more than we are taught in our Spanish classes. The only time I hear my (Spanish) husband really use Usted is to an older stranger, and the over use of usted can "offend" in its own way too. I would say in the informal setting you're talking about is the better option. If you're still unsure and you feel uncomfortable you have to play the waiting game and see what they use when speaking to you or just ask, and they'll be sure to say is ok.

You might hear usted in a shop where clearly in the eyes of the company the check out person is in a subordinate position, or speaking to doctor. To the teachers in my daughters school I usually use tú , but some teachers use usted. To the door man in a building it would be usted, to a police man definitely usted...

Older people, say 60 upwards, may use usted more. The area of Spain might influence the use too. I have the idea that usted might be more common in Galicia and in smaller towns, but I don't know

Hmmm, not helping much am I?
The bottom line is that you're a foreigner trying to speak Spanish - you're allowed to make mistakes:p
 

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As a polite sort of person I tend towards 'Usted' but I find that 90% of the time I'm answered with 'tu'.
We're not here for that long, but I had exactly the same experience. 90% of spanish people I met used "tu" - the gardener, shop assistant, neighbours we met for the first time etc.

I'm happy with that but yeah I dont want to offend anyone.

Originally I am from Germany, where "tu - usted / Du - Sie" is quite strongly used and the etiquette very important in day to day use. Spain seems to be more relaxed so far - but I might be wrong. I know what I would prefer ;) (my years in the uk didnt help I guess)
 

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In my Spanish class we are taught that "tu" is informal and only for family..friends etc. Also, in books I read the same rule applies. However, having said that, in day to day dealings with the Spanish, I find both terms being used. In shops, when i say "thank you " they will reply with "usted". If I ask people how they are they will reply "bien, y tu?". So, whatever comes comfortably to you...learn from them..They're hardly going to pick you up for elementary mistakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Pesky; thanks, your list was most informative and will be very useful.:) It covered everything.
Seb; German is my second language so I know what you mean. But I was amazed when I visited a German school in Huerth, near Koeln a couple of years ago, to find that everyone I met used 'du' immediately. Mind you, I was also surprised at the huge number of English words and expressions now in common use in Germany.
Hombre; yes, like you I was taught when learning French and German that those were the correct uses of tu/vous etc. That was a long time ago, mind you and times and manners have changed.;)
I'm a bit old-fashioned, really. For example I used to give up my seat on trams and the metro in Prague when I saw someone really old and decrepit standing so I was taken aback and to be honest rather upset when a young man offered me his seat on the tube in London this summer....:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If JBoden is around he may confirm that in Poland it's still considered extremely rude to use 'ty' instead of 'Pan' to older people, strangers etc.
But then Poles insult each other in the most polite terms.:D
The distinction isn't so important with most Czechs, especially the young,as I suspect is the case everywhere, but older people tend to be very formal.
My friend whom I've known for years and is not really that old was surprised when she learnt that we addressed a mutual friend by his given name, Ota. I had known him for three months, she had known him for thirty years but still called him Pan (Mr.) Vesely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Come on mr.....you know me by now! Am I the type of guy who's spent a lifetime lying to women?

And another good icebreaker is "Me **** en tu perro".

Hmm. I suspect mischief.;)
Many years ago as a young and foolish student I was teaching English in London to a bunch of Greek Cypriot male teenagers. Speaking no Greek, I asked them how to address people cheerfully and politely in Greek, as an icebreaker.
The phrase they taught me (and which I used once and once only) might have been more useful if I'd been looking for a career other than the one I eventually took up........
So since then I've been careful when using a foreign language.
 

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P
Seb; German is my second language so I know what you mean. But I was amazed when I visited a German school in Huerth, near Koeln a couple of years ago, to find that everyone I met used 'du' immediately. Mind you, I was also surprised at the huge number of English words and expressions now in common use in Germany.
I lived between Bonn and Koeln most of my life. Yes the younger generation tends to use Du quite a bit more and especially in this area people tend to be more informal with each other anyway. The amount of english words in german day to day language is amazing and it gets more every year. I have left Germany four years ago and I could swear it wasnt that much back then :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I lived between Bonn and Koeln most of my life. Yes the younger generation tends to use Du quite a bit more and especially in this area people tend to be more informal with each other anyway. The amount of english words in german day to day language is amazing and it gets more every year. I have left Germany four years ago and I could swear it wasnt that much back then :)
Do you know the area around Huerth? Istill have friends I e-mail occasionally but haven't visited recently. I spent a lot of time in Baden-Wuerttemberg, in a town called Ludwigsburg when I was at University. That was a long time ago....
Last year I went to a Conference in Berlin.What a fabulous city!!! I just fell in love with it.
 

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I'm a bit old-fashioned, really. For example I used to give up my seat on trams and the metro in Prague when I saw someone really old and decrepit standing so I was taken aback and to be honest rather upset when a young man offered me his seat on the tube in London this summer....:(
Steps that we go through in life.
I can pinpoint exactly when I stopped being señorita and started being señora in the market. It was when I had my daughter, not immediately after in the pram stage, but around pushchair toddler stage.
I also remember a long time before that in the queue at a supermarket somebody asking if I was the last and saying "Oh, I don't know whether to call you tú or usted" ! I was surprised that she would say that, that it would be difficult for a Spaniard to not know which form to use sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think I'll use tu for anyone who looks younger than me or the same age.
Mind you, that will be rarely as there are an awful lot of ancianos (as) around these parts at this time of year.
 

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Do you know the area around Huerth? Istill have friends I e-mail occasionally but haven't visited recently.
Yes I lived around 30 km away from Huerth (roughly). I used to cycle a lot and had several races around the area. Actually it was part of one of my training rounds for a while. Plus there are several TV production companies in Huerth I had the honour to work with.


Sebastian
 

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Come on mr.....you know me by now! Am I the type of guy who's spent a lifetime lying to women?

And another good icebreaker is "Me **** en tu perro".
I use it in reverse every day cos round here it's dog heaven. Dogs in baskets..dogs in bags...dogs with baseball caps on...dogs with sunglasses on...dogs being carried...dogs with clothes on...what the hell is happening ????
If they were animal lovers they would'nt humiliate dogs the way they do. We were sat at a pavement cafe this morning and a couple who use it every day arrived. He is severely disabled and rides a "trike". She spent 5 minutes making the dog had a good seat and was sitting comfortably on a special blanket...totally ignoring her disabled husband, who struggled on his own to a chair.
I've just realised..this has absolutely nothing to do with this thread.....:confused2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I use it in reverse every day cos round here it's dog heaven. Dogs in baskets..dogs in bags...dogs with baseball caps on...dogs with sunglasses on...dogs being carried...dogs with clothes on...what the hell is happening ????
If they were animal lovers they would'nt humiliate dogs the way they do. We were sat at a pavement cafe this morning and a couple who use it every day arrived. He is severely disabled and rides a "trike". She spent 5 minutes making the dog had a good seat and was sitting comfortably on a special blanket...totally ignoring her disabled husband, who struggled on his own to a chair.
I've just realised..this has absolutely nothing to do with this thread.....:confused2:
Maybe not, but it's interesting, to me anyway, as I am totally besotted by Our Little Azor.
I certainly wouldn't humiliate him by dressing him up in silly coats, hats etc. although even if I felt like doing so there aren't a lot of tailors who cater for 54 kilo Ridgebacks.
But we did choose our house because it had a huge lawned garden just for OLA.
If we do move a large walled garden and plenty of walking places in the neighbourhood will be Number One priority, for OLA, of course.
I don't overindulge him, though. He has to behave at all times and is only allowed a few of his toys at a time.
I'm just about to cook his beef mince, rice and carrots for dinner.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes I lived around 30 km away from Huerth (roughly). I used to cycle a lot and had several races around the area. Actually it was part of one of my training rounds for a while. Plus there are several TV production companies in Huerth I had the honour to work with.


Sebastian
I don't suppose that you knew the Raeche family? He is a Judge in Koeln, she (Gerda) teaches at the Friedrich Ebertschule in Hermuehlheim.
Now if you did, that would show that it really is a small world.:)
 
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