Just say you to you

In Dutch, we address almost everyone as ‘you’. Everyone is equal, so we rarely use ‘you’ anymore. In French you can’t get away with such familiar behavior – although that is changing. When you use ‘vous’ in French and when ‘tu’, there are unfortunately no clear-cut rules. Fortunately, there are guidelines:

You use ‘Tu’ for:

– family
– friends
– colleagues
– someone you want to offend (like your boss)

You use ‘Vous’ for:

– people you don’t know
– people who are clearly older than you
– people who are higher in the hierarchy (your manager, the president)

Funny exception: you address God as ‘tu’.

It is important that you do not propose tutoring too quickly in a conversation. If you are ‘lower in rank’ (for example because you are younger), you leave it to the other to propose to switch to ‘tu’.