Sociolinguistic Perceptions of Tú, Usted and Vos in the Highlands of Ecuador

Jesus Toapanta


The Spanish pronouns ‘Tú’, ‘Usted’ and ‘Vos’ all translate into the English second person singular ‘You’. However, this does not mean that they convey the same meaning. In Ecuador, for example, the pronoun Usted is normally used to signal formality, distance, and not familiarity; and, and Vos are often used to signal friendship, closeness, and informality. In addition, these pronouns adopt different meanings depending on where in Ecuador the interaction takes place. For example, in a reciprocal relationship between classmates, Vos implies friendship and closeness in the city of Cuenca, but in the city of Quito Vos implies lack of respect. In this sense, this study examines how college students perceive the usage of these pronouns at home, at the university, and at the workplace. This paper analyses samples taken from three cities in the highlands—Quito, Cuenca, and Loja—and describes how these pronouns are being used at these locations in Ecuador. The results reveal this very peculiar variation and show the different meanings and tendencies of these pronouns.

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2017 International Journal of Linguistics

International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

Copyright © Macrothink Institute ISSN 1948-5425

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.