The Spanish personal pronouns tú and vos
Many modern American Spanish language varieties use the personal pronoun vos instead of tú when referring to the grammatical second person. The pronoun vos is the predominant, if not the only form used by an enormous amount of Spanish speakers in many countries. This usage is especially evident in ordinary day to day oral language exchange.
The Spanish verb forms experience changes in their structures: Vos users say, for example, vos tenés or vos sabés instead of tú tienes or tú sabes.
The pronoun vos is used in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and all the Central American countries with the exception of Panama. Speakers in some countries make a selective use of this pronoun. In Chile and Colombia for example, tú is also used. On the other hand, vos is used by everyone in Argentina or Uruguay in daily speech.
The historical reasons that gave origin to this language phenomenon are far too complex and convoluted to be examined in detail in a short post like this. However, I must add that it’s very important for all users of any Spanish language variety, to have a clear understanding of the basic nature of it.
Firstly, the pronoun vos is as legitimate as tú since it’s used by a vast amount of speakers in many countries of the new world.
In the second place, contrary to the official position of Spanish language academies, the pronoun vos should be taught alongside tú as synonym structure for the second person singular in all modern Spanish grammar texts. Doing this would not only contribute to enrich the Spanish grammar as taught in the school system, but it would – more importantly – recognize a language usage that some people pretend that it doesn’t exist.
For students of Spanish as a second language it’s extremely important to know about this language aspect, especially in circumstances that require them to be in Spanish speaking regions or countries where vos is used.