New Club Member - Tutoyer or not?

A new member - an elderly gentleman (mind you, probably younger than me), has recently joined our photo club and I’m struggling with how to address him. Of course I tutoyer every other member but it feels somehow a bit disrespectful, given his age and the fact that I’ve only just met him. I’d welcome advice on what is the most courteous approach. Thanks.

I’d go with your instinct: that is, vouvoyer him.

It’s never going to be offensive to do that, whereas - given you don’t know him - you couldn’t predict his reaction if you got it wrong and moved to intimacy too soon :smiley:


A straightforward question, politely put is my rule, maybe with a little joke about how ‘foreign’ and difficult it is for us Anglos to pitch it at the correct level.

Bear in mind, if he is French, that you as an Anglo, will be by him automatically excused from any faux pas as a result. :smiley:

Obviously we are all waiting for @vero at this point. :joy: :rofl:


I come across this quite often…
As a firm rule, I address any newcomer “vous”… and, of course, as chat flows here and there, I’m “tu” with the Group and “vous” with the Newcomer… back and forth…

Until I fall from grace and I say “tu” instead of “vous” … aaargh… it’s my own fault, I talk to everyone and I talk quickly…

I stop in mid sentence, swiftly apologize and explain that it doesn’t come naturally to me to have the 2 words… and, with a smile… I’m given the go ahead to use “tu”… :wink: :wink:
We are talking about Groups, where we are all there to enjoy ourselves.

Of course, if the conversation is brief or very formal … there is no fall from grace… and I go with “vous” until advised otherwise… :wink: :wink:


Stick with vous to start with and listen carefully to what he and others are using. Although not foolproof as many are much better than I at constructing sentences to avoid the questions altogether!

It will probably fall into place pretty quickly without you needing to make the proposal. But if it doesn’t then just make the suggestion if it feels appropriate. He may of course turn out to be someone you really don’t want to tu-toi!

Since I’m a grown woman who has been here for years I don’t use the anglo excuse, especially as it’s blinking obvious from my accent!


it’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation and an apology… :wink:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: My accent makes it obvious that I’m a foreigner … :rofl:
but I’m often mistaken for being Dutch for some reason… :wink:

and it’s interesting to note how my lapse, made in the flurry of chatting with a number of people at the same time (when all of 'em bar the newcomer are “tu”) … gets 'em discussing languages, their visits to UK etc etc… and the “newcomer” is happily engaged and swiftly “one of our gang”.

EDIT: I should also mention that sometimes, if I do catch myself saying “tu” in error and stop talking, in mid-flow… cheeks flushing, obviously embarrassed… .and about to apologize…
the person will swiftly but-in and say (comfortingly) don’t worry, blah blah blah…
and I would be just as kind if the roles were reversed… :wink:

It’s an odd problem we come across in Romance language countries, principally I suppose, although German as well.
I’m wondering if background plays a part. We have some French friends that we used to see regularly when we lived in France. Dinner afternoon tea etc. They never used “tu” to us. Yet we had other friends who used it almost from the word go, or simply said, it’s about time we used “tu” isn’t it?
Is it insulting to use “tu” to somebody you don’t know, for instance if you have an altercation of some sort. “Ta gueule” for instance?

Incidentally Stella, I’m looking out for a missed apostrophe in your regular ems. Isn’t it quicker to type them rather than ‘em?

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Yes of course, that’s why we say “ta gueule” and never “votre gueule”. Tutoiement can be weaponised but that’s a very different situation to Anglophones getting confused. Anglophones vouvoie everyone anyway :slightly_smiling_face:

nope… I type how I chat… and 'em is just one of my little typing quirks… (of which there are many) :rofl: :roll_eyes: :rofl:

Incidentally, there’s a song from way back… “voulez-vous coucher avec moi” which is/was obviously a very polite way of asking a stranger … :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Well you can vouvoie even within the family. My grandfather’s 3rd wife liked to vouvoie him and always did. People usually vouvoie their parents-in-law.

Lady Marmalade

I recall Macron turning with savagery on a man in a crowd who used ‘tu’.

“I’m ‘vous’ to you!”

Always vous till they say.

If you really must let out your inner “Tu”, it’s always used for animals.

I seem to recall Sarkozy saying “Casse-toi, pauvre con”

and God! That’s what the Bible uses (and, therefore, in churches, Protestant and Catholic).

Both tu and vous can be weaponised….I refuse to tu-toi one woman I dislike intensely in our volunteer group. She is slightly older, which lets me get away with it to an extent.

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slight deviation… but

I know someone who refuses to say “bonjour” to a certain person, even if that person does say it first…
Silence seems to the weapon of choice in this instance… :wink:

My sister-in-law does this. I don’t. I often wonder if I should, but my mother-in-law is very relaxed with me tutoyer’ing her.

According to a man of God which my OH spent four weeks travelling with through France to deliver aid … God is your father and you vous or tu according to what you are comfortable with. He won’t mnd either way. Makes sense to me

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