Formal or Familiar?
In Spanish, there are two ways to say the English word "you." The difference between the two lies in the degree of formality that is conveyed. One is considered "formal" while the other is considered "familiar."
- usted - formal
- tú - familiar
In typical healthcare situations, it would be more common to use formal speech, and so on this website and in our courses we have elected to use "usted."
But formal speech extends beyond simply using "usted" instead of "tú."
In health care, you will frequently be giving patients commands—things like "breathe in" or "please sit down." These commands can be given in either a formal or an informal way, and again we have opted for the formal.
One thing you need to be aware of is that if you speak in this formal way to a child, it will sound quite strange to them, because it is not common to speak formally with children.
For that reason, when we present strictly pediatric material, we will expressly note the use of famililar speech.