Friday, March 27, 2009

Word of the Day: Voseo

OK, most Costa Ricans don't actually use the word voseo--which is the use of the 'vos' as a second person singular pronoun--but el voseo is something that trips up many a foreigner, so I feel obligated to write about it now and then.

Regarding the use of vos is Costa Rica, one must keep a few important things in mind:

  • Vos is a perfect substitute for the pronouns , and Ud. that are taught in Spanish classes in North America (as well as in Latin American classrooms).
  • Ud. and vos predominate in everyday spoken language. While Costa Ricans know the pronoun , it is mostly relegated to two specific (but important) uses--speaking to God and speaking to a lover. (Bibles refer to God as .)
  • Ud. and vos are for the most part interchangeable, except that in most formal situations you will want to use Ud. My advice to travelers in Costa Rica is to use Ud. at all times, which tends to be a practice of many Costa Ricans, anyway.
  • Vos has its own verb forms in the present tense, but it uses the forms in the past and future tenses.
Regular vos conjugations are as follows:

  • tocar (to touch) --> vos tocás
  • comer (to eat) --> vos comés
  • decir (to say, to tell) --> vos decís
As you can see, it is simply a matter of replacing the 'r' with an 's'. As a matter of orthography you will also add a tilde to the last syllable, but that is simply because of a spelling rule.

It's also helpful to look at it as a cousin to the vosotros form, which it pretty much is. To make vosotros singular, forming the vos form, you simply do the following for -ar, -er, -ir verbs:

  • tocáis --> tocás
  • coméis --> comés
  • decéis --> decís
As you can see, the -ar and -er verbs take out the 'i' and the -ir verb takes out the 'e'.

This short lesson will be just about all you'll need to know about voseo in Costa Rica--or just about anywhere else on earth except for Chile. However, for those of you who would like to know about irregular vos forms and the history of the pronoun in both Spain and the New World, I will soon create a post on those issues.


Anonymous said...

wow! thank you!!! found this site when i was trying to look for some infos about CR. im just new here in CR and doesnt speak spanish at all, so this site is soooo helpful and very informative! thanks a lot!


Thomas Carmona said...

Thank you for your kind comments. Glad to help out! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I am a (non-native) Spanish-speaker who is headed to Costa Rica next month and I never understood the vos form (we obviously didn't learn it in school). Thanks for the help!

Viagra Online prescription said...

I prefer to use Vos in almost every situation, it sounds friendly and kind.