Portuguese/Contents/How to say "you" in Portuguese
In English, the second person pronoun only has one person - whether talking to one person or several, whether talking to an intimate friend of someone we don't know at all, we say "you". However, as many other languages, Portuguese has several forms for these words. In fact, there are EIGHT forms of the word "you" in Portuguese. They are listed below.
Tu and Vós
'Vós' is relatively uncommon nowadays, but 'tu' is still widely used in Portugal and in south of Brazil.
TU This form of "you" is very informal, and can be used only when talking to one person. That is to say, it is only used between friends, when addressing children, or in situations where a certain level of comfort has been established. It is mostly used in Portugal. In Brazil it is never used with the exception of the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. Tu is conjugated with the SECOND PERSON SINGULAR conjugation (This means that when we use a verb, such as falar [to speak], there is a unique way to conjugate falar - in the present indicative, it is tu falas).
VÓS This is the plural form of "you", or SECOND PERSON PLURAL. It is formal in Portugal. It is hardly ever used in the spoken language even in Portugal; it is still occasionally used in (formal) written communication in Portugal. It may also be encountered in literature, for example The Bible, in a similar way to some words such "Thee" and "Thou" in English. For example, Vós falais [you speak].
Você and Vocês
These are the most common forms of 'you' in usage. If in doubt, they can be used in almost any situation.
VOCÊ This is the more commonly used form of "you" and is used between employees, friends, people of the same age and social standing. Again, it can be used only when you are talking to one person. It can be both mildly formal (in Portugal is never informal) and informal (in Brazil). It is widely used in Brazil instead of tu. It uses the THIRD PERSON SINGULAR conjugation, which means we use the same form of the verb as with "he" or "she" - for instance, ele fala [he speaks] and você fala [you speak].
VOCÊS This has the same level of formality as the singular você, however, it used when talking to a group of people. It uses the THIRD PERSON PLURAL conjugation. That means that we use the same part of the verb as with 'they'. For instance, eles gostam [they like] and vocês gostam [you like]
O senhor and A senhora
These are the polite forms of 'you'. They are widely used.
O SENHOR and A SENHORA This is the formal version of "you" (one person), and is used when you don't know someone, or towards someone you should show respect to, for example, a boss or a teacher. O senhor is used when talking to a male, and a senhora when talking to a female. Like você, it uses the THIRD PERSON SINGULAR conjugation. So we can have Você fala or O senhor fala.
OS SENHORES and AS SENHORAS These two forms are, as you have probably guessed, the plural forms of o senhor and a senhora, respectively. We use them in the same situations as with o senhor and a senhora - but when we are talking to more than one person.
And what if we are talking to a group which is mixed? Unfortunately for equality of the sexes, we use os senhores if the group is mixed. These forms, like vocês, use the THIRD PERSON PLURAL conjugation. So we can have eles comeram [they ate], vocês comeram [you ate], os senhores comeram [you ate] and as senhoras comeram [you ate]