VOUS or TU ??

 

How embarrassing not to know which one to use ? Is there a rule, how do the French know which one to use ?

 

You are speaking to an adult :

If the person is a family member = TU

If the person is not a family member = VOUS (in general it’s better to go first for the « vous » until told otherwise)

If the person is your boss = VOUS

If you begin a new job and you speak to your new colleagues = VOUS (until they tell you otherwise)

If the person is your banker = VOUS

If the person is your hairdresser’s and you’ve had your hair cut many many many times there = VOUS (unless you meet her/him quite often outside of work for example at school, at your kids’ swimming class… in that case you can use the TU)

If the person is your father-in-law / mother-in-law = VOUS (until they tell you otherwise, but this way you will appear more polite and respectful)

If the person is your friend = TU

If the person is the friend of a friend = TU (unless he/she looks posh, in that case, use the VOUS)

If the person is your friend’s grand ma/ grand pa = VOUS (we always use « VOUS » for elderly people, not so much for the distance and hierachy but more for the respect of their experience in life).

If you are a child and you are speaking to your teacher at school (and you are in « maternelle » or « primaire » = TU (in that very case the child will adress the teacher as « maîtresse »)

If you are a child and you are speaking to your teacher at school (and you are in « collège » or « lycée » = VOUS (in that very case the child will adress the teacher as « madame » or « monsieur »).

 

If you are speaking to a child :Use = TU

In some very rich and religious families in Paris, people use « VOUS » to speak to each other within the family, but this tends to be less and less common these days and i don’t think you’ll meet them here in Morzine J, so relax and always go for « TU » with a kid.

 

CONCLUSION :

If one day you are in one situation not mentioned above and you have a big doubt, always go for the « VOUS » and then if the person feels uncomfortable you using « VOUS » he/she will tell you « on peut se tutoyer » or « c’est pas la peine de me vouvoyer ». That way you won’t offend anyone 🙂