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Vous and Tu

My understanding was that it was still best to use vous forms, but I downloaded some podcasts to refresh my french and they were teaching "tu" forms. What's current, best, typical, whatever....

Posted by
8515 posts

It's still vous for commercial situations and with people you don't know well. Young people may use tu more to be cool, but to be safe, you should stick with vous.

Edit: could you post the links you've been listening to.

Posted by
28145 posts

I can't imagine using the familiar form with somebody I didn't know well, or a young child.

Posted by
1345 posts

Vous and let the French you are dealing with take the lead. Its probably best being too formal than too informal, the former will be funny to your hosts, the latter offensive.

Posted by
120 posts

As a French native myself I fully agree with MC. We are rather formal with other French people we don't know but we won't be offended if you say "tu" in a sentence. We know learning French is so hard... : )

Posted by
61 posts

Thanks everyone. The podcasts are called "Coffee Break French" also available in other languages. The idea is that if you have a 15 minute coffee break, you can learn a language:)

I was just searching for something to get my ear back tuned and refresh some vocabulary. I was never fluent, and college was in the 70's so I have no illusions of gaining competency. With my accent, it'll be quite clear that I'm resurrecting school-girl french, so for that alone vous is more appropriate, haha.

If anyone has other podcasts they recommend, I'd love to know.
Los Altos, Ca

Posted by
1783 posts

Hi Alison, it's been my experience that the French people appreciate your attempt to speak their language, even if it's not perfect. I took a non-credit class at a local college a few years ago and we used "French in 10 Minutes a Day" ( as the text. It's very good and comes with a CD that you can use on your computer to play matching games. I use it before every trip to brush up. Hope you have a great time in France!

Posted by
732 posts

Alison, you may be surprised how well your French comes back when you're in France. Just be sure to use it whenever you can. If nothing else, you can use it to order your food in restaurants! Even my son who takes Spanish ordered all his meals in French.

The key to speaking French is to not worry about making mistakes. No one cares if you put a feminine article with a masculine noun. You can still communicate! And for ease, default to vous as the others have said. For normal tourist transactions, vous is the way to go.