It’s all about YOU! The differences between “Você”, “Tu”, “Vocês” and “Vós” in Portuguese

Oi! Tudo bem?


If you’ve ever studied Brazilian or European Portuguese, you’ve certainly come across the different ways to say “you” (both singular and plural). There’s a handful of factors that can impact on the choice of using você, tu, vocês or vós. It can be region-wise, class-wise, age-wise and we’re going to talk about these factors today!


“Tu” is the second person singular, but “você” is the third person because it’s actually a title pronoun. “Você” used to be “Vossa mercê” which used to be the way people referred to the king, but it became more popular over time and it then evolved to “vossemecê”, then “vosmecê”, “vancê”, and finally “você”. This is why “tu” and “você” are not conjugated in the same way.



First of all, you need to choose the type of Portuguese you want to learn. Should you choose European Portuguese, you’ll have three options in the singular form:


  • Tu: it’s the informal way of saying “you” and it should only be used when you talk to people you’re familiar with: friends, partners, some family members and younger people. 
  • Você: It’s used with people you don’t know, but that doesn’t mean it’s formal, it just distances you from the person you’re talking to. However, it’s not very common in Portugal.
  • O senhor/A senhora: This is if you need to sound more formal while talking to someone you don’t know or anyone who’s older or in a higher position. It literally translates to mister/ma’am.


Be careful with the verb conjugation because você/senhor/senhora are conjugated in the same way (3rd person singular), but tu is conjugated differently (as the 2nd person singular). What’s more, the subject can be omitted in European Portuguese.


Tu Você O senhor/A senhora
Ser és é é
Estar estás está está
Ter tens tem tem
Gostar gostas gosta gosta
Trabalhar trabalhas trabalha trabalha
Comer comes come come
Beber bebes bebe bebe
Ouvir ouves ouve ouve
Assistir assistes assiste assiste


Some examples:


Where are you from?

1) De onde tu és? (informal) / De onde és? (without a subject)

2) De onde você é? (distancing from the speaker) / De onde é? 

3) De onde o senhor é? (formal when speaking to a man) / De onde a senhora é? (formal when speaking to a woman)


What’s your name?

1) Como tu te chamas? / Como te chamas?

2) Como você se chama? / Como se chama?

3) Como o senhor se chama? / Como a senhora se chama?


What do you like in Portugal?

1) De que tu gostas em Portugal? / De que gostas em Portugal?

2) De que você gosta em Portugal? / De que gosta em Portugal?

3) De que o senhor gosta em Portugal? / O que a senhora gosta em Portugal?


Where do you work?

1) Onde tu trabalhas? / Onde trabalhas?

2) Onde você trabalha? / Onde trabalha?

3) Onde o senhor trabalha? / Onde a senhora trabalha?


When it comes to the plural form of “you”, there are two options: vós and vocês

Now this one is tricky, because it depends on the place you are in Portugal and/or the age group and social class. But still, “vocês” is becoming more and more common amongst different groups around Portugal while “vós” is nowadays obsolete. 


Just remember that the verb conjugation for “vós” and “vocês” is also different. 


Vós Vocês
Ser sois são
Estar estais estão
Ter tendes têm
Gostar gostais gostam
Trabalhar trabalhais trabalham
Comer comeis comem
Beber bebeis bebem
Ouvir ouvis ouvem
Assistir assistis assistem


Some examples:


You are all really intelligent

1) Vós sóis muito inteligentes

2) Vocês são muito inteligentes


You guys never drink alcohol

1) Vós nunca bebeis álcool

2) Vocês nunca bebem álcool


What do you eat at Christmas?

1) O que vós comeis no Natal?

2) O que vocês comem no Natal?



We also have the three different types of “you”: tu, você and senhor/senhora. We use senhor/senhora in the same way the Portuguese people use. However, in Brazil, things are different when it comes to using “tu”.


In Portugal, “tu” is the informal way of saying “you”, but in Brazil, it tends to be used in a more formal way when conjugated properly (as the second person singular)


Some examples in Brazilian Portuguese:


You are Brazilian

1) Tu és brasileiro (formal)

2) Você é brasileiro (informal)

3) O senhor é brasileiro/A senhora é brasileira (formal) 


Do you know where the supermarket is?

1) Tu sabes onde fica o supermercado? (formal)

2) Você sabe onde fica o supermercado? (informal)

3) O senhor sabe onde fica o supermercado?/A senhora sabe onde fica o supermercado? (formal)


Using and conjugating “tu” as the grammar states is quite common in the south of Brazil and in states like Pará and Maranhão due to the strong Portuguese influence.


Ok. Are you still with me? It’s about to get a bit more confusing!


In other states, like Rio, São Paulo, Bahia and etc, “tu” is not really used, but you might come across people using it in extremely informal situations. Yes, people use it occasionally, but they don’t conjugate it properly! They’ll use it in the same way as “você”.


Some examples:


You’re really nice!

1) Tu é muito legal! (extremely informal)

2) Você é muito legal! (informal)


Do you work here?

1) Tu trabalha aqui? (extremely informal)

2) Você trabalha aqui? (informal)


So, to make your life easier, just remember: In Brazil, stick to “você”. If you do wish to use “tu”, don’t worry about conjugating it properly, just conjugate it in the same way you’d conjugate “você”.


* Now this is for those who wish to sound even more informal!*

When using “você”, you can even abbreviate the word to “cê”. It makes it even more informal!


Some examples: 


Do you like Brazilian food?

1) Você gosta de comida brasileira? (informal)

2) Cê gosta de comida brasileira? (very informal)


Where do you live?

1) Onde você mora? (informal)

2) Onde cê mora? (very informal)


Phew! We’re almost there! Let’s talk about the plural form now: “Vocês” and “vós”


This one is easy: you’ll only hear “vós” when you go to the church. This is how the Bible was translated to Portuguese because “vós” is extremely formal. You will never hear this word when speaking to Brazilians – perhaps if you go to court, but it’s definitely a word strictly used in church. If you wish to use “you” in the plural formal, just say “vocês”.


And that’s it! I hope you guys are more familiar with the different ways to use “you”. If you wish to learn Portuguese and become fluent in this beautiful and yet complex language, just contact us and we can schedule both European and Brazilian Portuguese classes on Zoom or in person.


Até a próxima!


Luciana Veloso

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