What does Vosotros Mean in Spanish? A Guide

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Many Spanish learners don’t understand what vosotros means in Spanish, and they use it incorrectly.

In European Spanish, vosotros is a way to say you in the plural form in informal situations. It is the most common way to address more than one person.

This article will discuss:

👍 The meaning of vosotros in Spanish
👍 How to use the vosotros form
👍 Why it is important for a person to know about the difference between tú, vosotros, usted and ustedes

We’ll also look at other ways to say ‘you’ across the Spanish-speaking world, and where these forms are used (particularly in Spain and Latin America). 

Finally, if you’d like to learn about when to use vosotros and ustedes in context, check out the Spanish Uncovered Course. 

You Plural: When To Use Vosotros?

So, what does vosotros mean and when do you use it?

In European Spanish, vosotros is a way of saying “you” plural in informal situations. It is by far the most common way to address multiple people when you’re in Spain.

In the singular form, the Spanish use tú. This becomes vosotros in the plural form.

In Spanish, we use vosotros as the subject pronoun. It always takes the verb ending ‘-áis’ regardless of the verb type.

If you need a quick refresher on verbs in Spanish, you can check out our Guide to Regular Spanish verbs.

Let’s look at the following example of when to use the pronoun vosotros from the verb ‘to be’ – Ser.

🇪🇸 Vosotros sois guapos
🇺🇸 You (plural, masculine) are handsome

🇪🇸 Vosotras sois guapas
🇺🇸 You (plural, feminine) are pretty

You’ll notice the use of vosotras when addressing female plural subjects in an informal setting.

If you are addressing a group of men and women, then you adopt the masculine form.

For example:

🇪🇸 Vosotros sois todos muy guapos
🇺🇸 You are all very good looking

Use of Vosotros and Ustedes in context

Be aware that in some regions of Spain (particularly in the south), vosotros is often replaced by ustedes (the formal “you” plural). So, instead of ‘vosotros sois‘ you may also hear:

🇪🇸 Ustedes son guapos
🇺🇸 You (plural, masculine) are handsome

Just think of ustedes as the formal version of vosotros.

In Spain, when referring to a group of women, you would use vosotras. Notice that this pronoun is feminine due to the replacement of the ‘o’ with the ‘a’?

In most cases, vosotros would be used when you talk to a group of friends. For example:

🇪🇸 Chicas, vosotras vais todos al partido esta noche?
🇺🇸 Girls, are you all going to the game tonight?

By contrast, in Mexico or throughout Latin America, you’d be more likely to hear the following Latin American Spanish equivalent:

🇪🇸 Chicas, van todas al partido esta noche?

Do you notice the difference in conjugation? This is the same for all verbs in Spanish.

Ustedes, on the other hand, would be used when talking to a group of people who are not your friends and may command some form of authority, such as teachers (even your favorite teachers).

Other contacts that may require a formal construction of you plural include colleagues you do not know, or elderly people that are not your grandparents.

You should always use ustedes unless you are confident you can informally address somebody.

Use sites like wordreference.com if you’d like to practice formal and informal conjugation in context.

Vosotros Vs Ustedes

Today, using vosotros in Spain reflects familiarity with somebody. Spanish people use it frequently in conversation, as opposed to not at all in Latin American countries.

In English, we would say “you guys” to mean the same thing.

In Latin America, the equivalent of vosotros is ustedes. Ustedes is commonly used throughout Latin America for formal as well informal purposes.

Vosotros is not used at all in Latin America, except by native Spanish people. Throughout most of Spain, ustedes is used only as a form of respect.

However, there are parts of Spain, particularly in the South in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, where the use of ustedes is more common than vosotros.

Example sentences

Keep in mind that both pronouns are useful and should be used as “you” plurals although verb conjugations differ.

Let’s look at the examples below.

🇪🇸 Vosotras sois mis amigas favoritas
🇺🇸 You girls are my best friends

🇪🇸 Ustedes son mis amigas favoritas
🇺🇸 You girls are my best friends

🇪🇸 Vosotros os vais hoy o mañana?
🇺🇸 Are you leaving today or tomorrow?

🇪🇸 Ustedes se van hoy o mañana?
🇺🇸 Are you leaving today or tomorrow?

🇪🇸 Nosotros vamos con vosotros o solos?
🇺🇸 Are we going with you guys or alone?

🇪🇸 Nosotros vamos con ustedes o solos?
🇺🇸 Are we going with you guys or alone?

🇪🇸 Quiero hablar con vosotros sobre la conjugación del verbo ser
🇺🇸 I want to talk with you all about the conjugation of the verb ‘ser’

🇪🇸 Quiero hablar con ustedes sobre la conjugación del verbo ser
🇺🇸 I want to talk with you all about the conjugation of the verb ‘ser’

🇪🇸 Vosotros estais aprendiendo español juntos?
🇺🇸 Are you all learning Spanish together?

🇪🇸 Ustedes están aprendiendo español juntos?
🇺🇸 Are you all learning Spanish together?

Which Spanish countries use this form of ‘you’ plural?

As established, vosotros is only used in Spain, while ustedes is used throughout Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Latin American people use the second-person plural “ustedes”, rather than the Spanish second-person plural “vosotros”.

Is Vosotros formal or informal in Spain?

The vosotros form is informal and widely used in Spain, much like its singular counterpart ‘tú’.

However, the formal equivalent, ustedes, is rarely used in Spain unless referring to somebody in a position of seniority.

Indeed, ustedes, or its singular counterpart ‘usted’ are used in Spain only when speaking to a group of individuals of authority or more than one person that you do not know personally.

Other ways to say ‘you’ in Spanish

Wherever you are learning Spanish, you should know that the vosotros and ustedes pronouns are not the only two forms worth knowing.

In other parts of Latin America, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay, the form ‘vos’ (el voseo) is used instead of tú.

In the plural, this still becomes ustedes.

The voseo alters conjugation and is generally not taught outside of these countries. Let’s look at some examples.

Look at the examples below.

🇪🇸 Vos tenés el regalo de Pablo
🇪🇸 (Pl) Ustedes tienen el regalo de Pablo
🇪🇸 Tú tienes el regalo de Pablo

🇪🇸 (Pl) Vosotros teneis el regalo de Pablo.
🇪🇸 Usted tiene el regalo de Pabol.
(Pl) Ustedes tienen el regalo de Pablo.

All of these sentences mean the same thing. The difference is the use of the pronoun (usted, tú, ustedes and vosotros).

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What is the difference between vosotros and nosotros?

It is not uncommon for learners of Spanish to confuse vosotros with nosotros, especially when they speak Spanish.

As established, you’ll use vosotros when addressing a group of two or more people. This is similar to the English pronoun “you.”

For example:

🇪🇸 ¿Qué tal, vosotros?
🇺🇸 How are you all?

Nosotros , on the other hand, is used when referring to “we” in the first person plural.

This would be the equivalent of saying “us” or “we” in English.

For example:

🇪🇸 Nosotros somos estudiantes
🇺🇸 We are students

While vosotros is always plural, nosotros can be either singular or plural, depending on the context.

So, now that you know the difference between vosotros and nosotros, how do you use them correctly?

The following examples should help:

🇪🇸 Vosotros sois mis amigos
🇺🇸 You are my friends

🇪🇸 Nosotros somos tus amigos
🇺🇸 We are your friends

🇪🇸 Vosotros vivís en una casa muy bonita
🇺🇸 You guys live in a really beautiful house

🇪🇸 Nosotros vivimos en una casa muy bonita
🇺🇸 We live in a really beautiful house

Summing up: What does vosotros mean in Spanish and how do you use it?

We’ve covered a lot in this article. Let’s look at some key takeaways.

✅ Vosotros is a pronoun used in Spain when addressing two or more people
✅ In Spain, the pronoun vosotros is the informal form of ‘you’ plural and is widely used
✅ In Spain, this plural form is not considered ‘informal’ as we think of it in English.

Remember also: 

✅ Spanish speakers use this form when they talk amongst friends and family
✅ Ustedes is only used when addressing people of authority in the plural form
✅ In some Spanish-speaking countries, the pronoun ‘vos’ (el voseo) is used instead of tú, but this becomes ustedes in the plural form
✅ Nosotros is often confused with vosotros. Nosotros is the Spanish equivalent of “us” or “we” in English and can be either singular or plural

The best way to use this plural form correctly is to practice! The more you use it, the easier it will become.

Furthermore, if you are interested in learning Spanish online, then check out LingoPie.

LingoPie is an app that teaches you Spanish through TV. So, you can learn Spanish vocabulary and Spanish grammar by watching Spanish movies and TV shows.

You can take a free trial with LingoPie via the link below. Good luck!


Author bio:

James is the founder of travel-lingual.com, this online travel, and language blog. He is a tutor of English, Spanish and French. He has visited 35 countries and sometimes writes in the third person! 

He has worked as a language teacher in France, Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica. His love of languages led him to create this blog, to share best practices in language learning and inspire others to learn!


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