Formal vs. Informal (Friendly)

In the United States we are much less formal than in Spanish speaking countries. As children and young adults, we will often address adults by their first name, and treat them more like family. This is not the case in Spanish speaking countries. A Spanish student would never call a teacher, coach, parent's friend, friend's parent, etc. by their first name.

Friendly, InformalFormal
  • children
  • people younger than you are
  • friends
  • family
  • classmates (even if you are just meeting them)
  • people you know well
  • people you address by 1st name
  • teachers
  • your elders
  • adults
  • people you don't know well
  • anyone you address with a title (Sr. Sra. Srta. Dr.)
  • people in authority

Click here for the different ways to say "you" in Spanish.