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Vos in Spanish: what it is and how to use it

Today we are going to learn how to use vos in Spanish!

Probably you are here because you just met somebody from Argentina, Uruguay or some country from Central America.

Maybe you wondered ‘What does vos mean in Spanish? Like… a boss?’

Vos is just another second person singular pronoun. The same as , but with its own forms.

‘Oh, no, more conjugations!’, you might say. But I promise it’s very easy to use!

Using vos instead of is a linguistic phenomenom called voseo, especially common in Argentina and Uruguay, but also widespread in certain regions of Latin America.

Learn how to vosear in Spanish at firsthand from an Argentine! Querés?

But first, a little bit of history…

Vos in Spanish: origins

The origins of vos date back to a few centuries ago in Spain. It was used to address people with a certain social status as a sign of respect.

On the other hand, was used in informal contexts, just the same as nowadays.

However, towards the end of the 15th century, people increasingly started using vos to treat people as equals without any kind of social distinction.

The expression vuestra merced‘ (usted, the formal second person singular pronoun) came to replace vos with its original meaning.

At the time, even Spaniards weren’t sure about which one they should use!

But finally usted became the proper form to show respect and vos fell into disuse.

Spaniards took the recent changes to the Spanish colonies in Latin America and people adopted them, except for those who lived in remote places far from the key trade areas with Spain!

They weren’t updated with the latest news coming from Spain, and as a result, they continued using vos with its informal meaning.

One of those places was the River Plate area!

A guy pointing his finger at the camera
¡Che, vos! ¿Todo bien? Photo by Flávio Santos from Pexels

Vos in Spanish: conjugations

First of all, vos has different forms only for the simple present tense and the imperative mood. Then , the conjugations are the same as the ones for .

So for example, in preterite and imperfect the forms are:

tú hablaste –> vos hablaste

tú hablabas –> vos hablabas

Vos in the present tense

Conjugating verbs in vos is pretty easy! For the present tense, follow these three steps:

1) Take an infinitive verb and remove the R: hablar –> habla

2) Now add an S: hablas

3) Finally, put the accent mark and stress the last syllable: hablás

That’s all! The same steps apply for all of the verbs in Spanish. Yes, even the irregular ones!

Let’s take three random irregular verbs: querer, jugar, and decir.

tú quieres –> vos querés

tú juegas –> vos jugás

tú dices –> vos decís

You see? Vos in Spanish is learner-friendly! The only two exceptions are ser and ir:

tú eres –> vos sos

tú vas –> vos vas

Vos in the imperative mood

For the imperative mood (used to express orders, instructions, give advice, etc.), it’s the same trick, but without adding an S.

1) Take an infinitive verb and remove the R: hablar –> habla

2) Put the accent mark and stress the last syllable: hablá.

And it’s done! The only exception is ir:

tú ve –> vos andá

Vos: prepositional pronoun

Prepositional pronouns are special forms of a personal pronoun that are used as the object of a preposition. In Spanish, the most common is ti, but in voseo, we use vos as well.

Esto es para ti. (= This is for you) –> Esto es para vos.

Quiero ir contigo. (= I want to go with you) –> Quiero ir con vos.

Do you want to learn more Spanish?

I hope you have enjoyed this article about vos in Spanish and how to use it!

When you come to Argentine or any of the voseantes countries, they’ll love hearing you vosear.

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Thank you very much and until next time,

Kevin.

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