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Formel et informel

This video is part of our course beginners 1

What is formal?

When speaking and writing, we use the pronoun subject “vous” to address someone formally.  Using “vous” is polite.

When is formal used?

The formal word “vous” is used with someone you don’t know or don’t know too well. It is also used at work and for people older than you.

At work, being formal is not an obligation, it depends on the relationship you have with the person. Same with someone older than you. But you should be formal at least at the beginning.

Some people might be informal with you even when they should be formal but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should do the same (it depends if you want to stay polite or not).

What is informal?

When speaking and writing, we use the pronoun subject “tu” for informal situations.

When is informal used?

The informal “tu” is used for friends and family. Also with children and teenagers and close associates.

Every time you are unsure you should be formal, as it is a polite thing to do.

Can we switch from one to another?

You can switch from formal to informal, but there are rules to follow:

  • The person with the “authority” decides first.
  • If you are not this person, you should wait to be “invited” to be informal.
  • Even if the other person is informal with you, it doesn’t allow you to do the same.
  • “Tu peux me tutoyer” → “You can say ‘tu’ to me” or “you can be informal.” This is the phrase you need to look out for.
  • Once you have been “invited” to address someone informally, it is rude to keep addressing the person formally.

When two people with the same position or age meet for the first couple of times, they usually agree on being formal or informal and they stick to it.

On se tutoie ou on se vouvoie ? We say “tu” or “vous”?

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