In Spanish Grammar, Spanish Lessons

Spanish is spoken in more than 25 countries and by more than 450 million people.  While speakers from all countries can understand each other, differences exist between the language.

Today we will travel to the spanish-speaking country of Argentina where they use something known as ‘voseo‘. Perhaps you’ve heard of that vos thing before. Don’t panic, it’s not as complicated as you may think …

What is voseo?

Let’s start with what voseo is NOTVoseo is NOT the same thing as vosotros.  Vosotros is the commonly used pronoun in Spain referring to the familiar 2nd person plural (as in ‘you all’).

Voseo is a substitute for 2nd person singular pronoun, in place of the more commonly used . That’s it.  Instead of , use ‘vos’.

Though not commonly referenced, the use of is known as tuteo, while the use of vos is known as voseo.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS (I, you, he, she)

What is Vos in Spanish?

 

So far so good, right?

It gets even easier.

In most cases, changing vos for tú doesn’t mean changing the conjugation of the verb. You simply replace the preceding pronoun with vos.

 

EXAMPLES USING TUTEO and VOSEO PERSONAL PRONOUNS

Tu vs voseo

 

And as you probably know, in Spanish it is not required to use the personal pronoun before the conjugated verb. So, in many cases tuteo and voseo appear exactly the same (i.e. to just say ‘cenaste’ works in both cases).

This is true with just two exceptions, which we will discuss in more detail later.

 

Where did voseo come from?

Voseo has been said to date back to roman times, originally used as a formal way of addressing someone (very similar to the French ‘vous’, for any of you polyglot french speakers).

Over time, Usted became the formal means of communicating to someone, so in some regions vos was adopted as a replacement for the form.

Where is it used?

Voseo is primarily used in Argentina, Paraguay, and parts of Uraguay, as well as a few other parts of Latin America. Here we will talk mainly of the form used in Argentina, where voseo is both spoken and written.

The map below gives you a better idea of where voseo is predominantly used and to what extent.

 

Use of Vos Map South America

Map adapted from wikipedia

Two Exceptions in Voseo Conjugation

In most cases there is no difference in the verb conjugation between tuteo or voseo. However, as we mentioned earlier there are two exceptions:

  1. present tense
  2. imperative (commands)

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1. Voseo in Present Tense

The voseo conjugation in the present tense is slightly different than that of tuteo.  Can you identify the differences looking at the table below?

Tuteo vs Voseo Present Tense

 

Tu vs voseo present

Vos in the present tense is conjugated in the same manner as in the present tense except for these three differences:

  • An accent is added to the final vowel of the verb
  • IR verbs are conjugated using an ‘is’ ending instead of an ‘es’ ending
  • There is no change in the stem for irregular verbs

Thus, to conjugate a verb in voseo, simply remove the infinitive ending and add the following endings (without changing the stem):

AR verbs end in ás
ER verbs end in és
and IR verbs end in ís

There are fewer irregular verbs in voseo because there is no stem change for irregular verbs as in tuteo.

For example:
PEDIR (tuteo): tú pides = irregular stem change e –> i
PEDIR (voseo): vos pedís = no stem change, i instead of e in the ending

In voseo present tense there are only three irregulars.

  • ser
  • ir
  • haber

These verbs are also irregular in tuteo.

Tuteo vs Voseo Present Tense Irregular Verbs

 

Tu vs vos present_irregulars

Alternatively, we can derive the voseo in present tense by looking at the conjugation of vosotros (2nd person familiar plural).  To derive voseo from the vosotros conjugation, simply delete the non accented ‘i’ in the vosotros ending.  In the case of ‘ir’ verbs, the conjugation of vosotros and voseo is the same.

 

Vosotros vs Voseo Present Tense

 

Vosotros vs vos present

 

 

2. Voseo in the Imperative

What about the imperative?

Can you identify the difference between the imperative  and vos based on the table below?

Tuteo vs Voseo Imperative

Tu vs voseo imperative

 

Remember the imperative  is derived from / equal to the 3rd person singular (¡tú habla!). To derive the voseo from the tuteo we see the same changes we saw as in the present tense:

  • Add an accent to the final vowel of the verb
  • conjugate IR verbs using an I ending instead of E
  • Do not change in the stem for irregular verbs

To conjugate voseo in the imperative (without relating it to the tuteo form), simply remove the ‘r’ from the infinitive ending and add an accent to the final vowel.

Again there are fewer irregulars in voseo imperative compared to tuteo.  Common irregular verbs in tuteo like ser (), salir (sal), or poner (pon), are not irregular in voseo. There is only one irregular in voseo, and that is the verb ‘ir’. However, the imperative of ir is not typically used in voseo. Instead they  use the verb andar (andá):

 Tuteo vs Voseo Imperative Irregular Verbs

Tu vs voseo imperative irregulars

 

 

As we saw with the present tense, the imperative can also be easily derived from vosotros imperative form. To form the imperative vosotros, we remove the infinitive ‘r’ and add ‘d’.  In voseo, remove the ‘d’ and add an accent on the final vowel. There are no irregulars in the vosotros imperative, nor in voseo, with the exception of the verb ir which we previously mentioned.

Vosotros vs Voseo Imperative

Vosotros vs vos imperative

In summary, voseo is very similar to tuteo and vosotros forms. In the table below you can see how the voseo conjugation can be derived from either  or vosotros forms in the present tense and the imperative:

Tuteo, Vosotros and Voseo Conjugation: Present Tense and Imperative

Voseo Table Conjugation Tuteo Vosotros Voseo

Voseo Pronoun ‘ti’

In voseo, in addition to changing in personal pronoun from  to vos, you must also change in the prepositional pronoun ‘ti‘ to ‘vos’.  See the table below:

Tuteo & Voseo Prepositional Pronouns (me / you)

Voseo Prepositional Pronouns

For example:

El teléfono es para ti = El teléfono es para vos

Quiero venir contigo  = Quiero venir con vos

Note that while voseo uses vos for the personal and prepositional pronouns, it does NOT do so for the object pronouns nor the possessive pronouns.  These remain the same in tuteo and voseo.

Tuteo & Voseo Pronouns Comparison

Voseo pronoun chart

 

So that’s vos.  Again, while it is interesting to know, don’t worry about having to learn it.  All Spanish speakers will understand you if you use , even in Argentina.

Do you have any experience using voseo?  Share with us in the comments.  If you found this article helpful or interesting, please consider sharing it 🙂

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Showing 2 comments
  • Thomas Paul Kilroy

    Great article! gracias!

  • Martha KowalakPerez

    This is a little after the fact and thanks for the great article. When I lived in Guatemala I learned that men did not talk to each other with tu (they used vos), not “manly” enough. Perhaps others have learned otherwise. Again thanks for the review!

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