What is the vosotros verb form in Spanish?
A grammatical explanation
Vosotros, in grammatical terms, is second person plural familiar form of the verb. It occupies the fifth position on our verb paradigms (see the paradigm and examples at the end of this article).
But when do you use it?
If you already know something about the difference between 'tú' and 'usted', you can make the same comparison between 'vosotros' and 'ustedes'. In very broad terms, 'tú' is used for people you are friends with or on a first-name basis with, and 'usted' is for someone you might call 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' in English. This is frequently called 'informal you' (tú) and formal you' (usted). Vosotros and ustedes are exactly the same thing, but in the plural form - that is, vosotros is 'informal you plural' and ustedes is 'formal you plural'.
The vosotros form is used on a daily basis in Spain and rarely even heard in the rest of Spanish speaking world outside of church and in books and films that come from Spain, although people in other Spanish-speaking countries do understand it. Spanish speakers outside of Spain only use the 'ustedes' form for both formal and informal you plural.
Should I learn it?
If you are going to spend time in Spain, you must learn it. If you know with absolute certainty that you will never ever speak to anyone from Spain nor read any sort of literature or newspapers nor see any Spanish films nor listen to any Spanish music, then yes, you are safe to ignore the vosotros form.
But seriously now, in order not to be taken by surprise, you probably should have some basic familiarity with the vosotros form. As stated, native Latin American Spanish speakers understand it, although they don't use it and probably couldn't tell you the verb forms themselves. You should at least aspire to this level - understanding - even if you are in a situation where you will almost always be dealing with Latin American Spanish speakers. Our own Spanish Whiz computer program lets you choose whether or not you want to practice the vosotros form in the verb exercises.
The information below shows you both the basic verb paradigm and examples of the vosotros verb form:
Subject pronouns in Spanish (basic verb paradigm):
|I - yo||we - nosotros|
|informal you - tú||informal you - vosotros|
|formal you, he, she - usted, él, ella||formal you, they - usted, ellos|
-ar verbs: hablar (speak)
-er verbs: comer (eat)
-ir verbs: vivir (live)
Other tenses (examples of vosotros only, using 'hablar', 'comer' and 'vivir'):
Present continuous: estáis hablando, estáis comiendo, estáis viviendo
Preterite: hablasteis, comisteis, vivisteis
Present perfect: habéis hablado, habéis comido, habéis vivido
Future with 'ir a': vais a hablar, vais a comer, vais a vivir
Imperfect: hablabais, comíais, vivíais
Future (will): hablaréis, comeréis, viviréis
Conditional: hablaríais, comeríais, viviríais
Present subjunctive: habléis, comáis, viváis
Perfect subjunctive: hayáis hablado, hayáis comido, hayáis vivido
Past subjunctive: hablarais - hablaseis, comierais - comieseis, vivierais - vivieseis
Computer programs to learn Spanish: www.braser.com