Home LanguageGrammar The Pronoun Debate: Nosotros vs. Vosotros (Explained)

The Pronoun Debate: Nosotros vs. Vosotros (Explained)

by Logan

Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Learn Spanish correctly! You don’t say vosotros!” But how can there be more than one correct way to speak Spanish?

It turns out that there are two ways to conjugate verbs in the plural form in Spanish—the nosotros form and the vosotros form.

In this article, we’ll look at when to use each of these forms and try to understand why there are two different ways of doing things in the first place.

What Is Nosotros?

You are a group of people (us, we, you). This form is used when speaking to a group of friends or in a more intimate situation. It’s also used in informal situations like with family members and close friends. In Latin America, it’s commonly used by Afro-Americans who have incorporated it into their way of speaking Spanish.

The construction Nosotros consists of two words: nos meaning we and tros which can mean either us or others depending on its context and on whom it refers to (it’s ambiguous) This word combination can mean both things at once!

What Is Vosotros?

While it may be obvious, vosotros is a second-person plural pronoun in Spanish. If you’re talking to more than one person but only using two pronouns, you have to use vosotros.

The singular form of vosotros is vuestro, which is equivalent to your when used as an adjective and just means yours when used as a pronoun.

Your verb must agree with whatever noun or pronoun you’re using.

Vosotros is often used in Spain, but most Spanish-speaking countries use ustedes instead.

The Spanish Word "SILENCIO" is Painted On A Wall Which means SILENCE
The Spanish Word “SILENCIO” is Painted On A Wall Which means SILENCE

Spanish grammar

Pronouns are an important part of any language. They help distinguish which nouns are being talked about, and who is doing what to whom, all without directly referring to a specific person or thing. This can be particularly helpful in sentences where there may be confusion or ambiguity, such as in possession, or when expressing emotion like love or gratitude.

As you’ll soon see, they can even have a gender! In Spanish, we refer to these as subject pronouns because they tell us who is performing a particular action. For example, I am walking means that I am performing that action—walking—and it also tells us that I’m performing it on my own (as opposed to with someone else).

The subject pronoun in English for I is I; for you, it’s you; for he/she/it, it’s he, she, or it. In Spanish, those same words would be yo, tú, él, ella, and ello. But what if we want to say something like Juan loves Maria?

El lenguaje del Español (The Lanuage of Spanish)

The most common reasons we use nosotros and vosotros are because of subject matter and audience. Nosotros is used to indicate a group you are part of or a group you’re talking about, while vosotros refers to groups that aren’t relevant to your life or that you have no relationship with personally (such as distant family members).

The key difference is that nosostros tend to be informal—and almost always used in conversation—while vosotros are formal and used in writing.

Of course, there’s some flexibility with these rules, so let’s take a look at an example from literature Nosotros los pobres tenemos que trabajar duro para ganarnos la vida. (We poor people have to work hard to earn our living.) Here, author Miguel de Cervantes uses nosotros because he’s referring to himself and his fellow poor people; it would sound awkward if he said vosotros los pobres.

Now let’s compare that sentence with one written by Gabriel García Márquez: Vuestra casa está ardiendo. (Your house is on fire.) Here, he uses vosotros because his audience isn’t close friends or relatives, they don’t know each other well enough for him to address them informally.

Real conversation starters with native speakers

In a bid to improve your conversational skills and build up your confidence, start a chat with someone in your class that you don’t know well yet (or someone else who is learning Spanish).

Be friendly, mention a mutual interest or shared experience (you both took an Almodovar film class last semester), and get chatting!

You might find that conversation comes easily as you learn more about each other. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there—and never underestimate how much progress you can make when speaking with native speakers!

If you feel particularly brave, try striking up a conversation with someone at a local café or bar where people are likely to be in a relaxed social mode.

Tips To Learn The Spanish Language

The Spanish language takes effort and practice to learn it’s not an easy task, especially when you don’t have anyone to talk with in person or have access to a nearby Spanish-speaking country.

It helps to know that people around you are interested in helping out—and there are even websites where you can do just that! Whatever your preferred learning style may be, these tips should help get you started on mastering the Spanish language.

And remember, it’s always good to keep practicing what you learned. Practice makes perfect! So if you haven’t mastered it yet, don’t worry! You will one day.

It would be helpful to speak some basic phrases in Spanish before arriving in a foreign country. For example, “Hello, my name is Alex”, “I am from Spain”. and “How are you?” would make an excellent icebreaker while traveling through Mexico City or Buenos Aires.

A Stop Sign in Spanish Which is Indicating Double Roads
A Stop Sign in Spanish Which is Indicating Double Roads

What Is the Difference Between Nosotros and Vosotros?

Spanish has two sets of pronouns, one for speaking to a group and one for speaking to an individual or just a few people. Which set you choose depends on which of three groups you’re in, not who is listening to your conversation.

The first group is family, friends, and close acquaintances (people with whom you are familiar); the second is the general public (people outside your circle of intimates); the third is servants or inferiors such as domestics, waiters, etc., and animals (people or creatures whose intelligence/sentience we do not recognize).

The form used depends on who is listening at any given time in our conversations with those we know well (Nosotros) and those that we don’t know well (vosotros). For example, if talking to children, pets, or strangers we use vosotros; if talking to adult members of our family and friends we use Nosotros. To help keep track of it all there are a couple of mnemonic devices commonly used by students of Spanish.

One is I am good but he/she is better (in English), meaning when addressing another person directly I am good but when referring to someone else I am better; no soy Bueno Pero él es Mejor. Another common mnemonic device uses mamá and papá where papá = tú , mamá = ustedes .

NosotrosVosotros
Nosotros is used when talking to family, friends, and close acquaintancesVosotros is used when talking to those that we don’t know well
Nosotros is used when talking to a groupVosotros is used when talking to
Comparison of Nosotros and Vosotros

Books you can read to improve your grammar

If you’re interested in improving your Spanish grammar and having a greater command of Spanish then I would recommend you to read the following books on Spanish grammar:

Conclusion

  • Vosotros is often used in Spain, but not in other Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Vosotros translates as “you all” while nosotros means “we or us.”
  • Focusing on the difference between homonyms and understanding their meaning to improve your language skills.
  • Reading books are a great way to study Spanish.

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