Plumber - tu or vous?

Also depends on your job. Fonctionnaires A of the EN all tutoie each other on principle, it is political.
I wouldn’t tutoie my artisans because it isn’t respectful. Voilà le fond de ma pensée sur les us et coutumes.

And really French people* are very very very rarely offended when foreigners such as you don’t know these things. We don’t expect you to be like us. If a French person in a shop tutoies me I am very surprised and think we haven’t looked after the goats together, if it is an anglophone I am more indulgent, I think I am a fairly typical French person.

*of course some of us are touchy idiots who get offended at anything.

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The language lessons one has may also not help. Among other things I’ve started doing Duolingo and it’s Tu all the way. :stuck_out_tongue:

Agree completely, some working environments are tu others vous, it’s vous with my in-laws, artisans and if someone I don’t know uses tu in the shop I usually stress the s’il VOUS plait, but apart from the refugees and other immigrants (we have lots) who are learning. It’s a very complicated thing for non-natives and even after years here, francophone family, work, degrees, French day-in-day-out etc. I still very occasionally get it wrong when tired and in a mixed (tu et vous) group :man_facepalming:


@vero That is what I meant, about working. Soon after I arrived in '99 I had a casual job driving a small van delivering antiques bought in France to England. I had a young man with me to help with the lifting, he was English but had been brought up in France from an early age and was thus totally fluent.

On the ferry, sitting down to dinner with all the other commercial drivers, mainly French, I was surprised that I/we were included in all the tutoying and asked him what was going on. The reply was simple ‘we are all brothers, family’. He was right, in the following 22 years of eating with and otherwise associating with routiers it has always been like that, always, and with the bar staff and patrons in the routier restos too.

With the petanquers universally just the same. We used to go to the biggest gathering in the world each year at Millau, and from the off it was always tu.

The dansants, a little slower at first, but as soon as we became perceived as regulars, tu followed very quickly.

When I say ‘it was always tu’, I took my cue from the others, I did not assume and that is the way it is today in normal life.

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this is quite subtle. I would continue with first name and vous. He is working for you, you will be vous, you are the boss; he ccould feel it patronising to be called tu. My local market garden is tu with the lady boss, vous with her son with whom i dont joke and weigh myself on the big veg scales! Some put up with it because they think you are ignorant.

I have already spoken of the work situation with fellow drivers, but not at the firm. From the off the owner/MD was always Monsieur Gauthier to all us drivers with the exception of a few who had been there 30 years or so, but he always called us by our first names and, of course it was always vous, in both directions.

But his son, Vincent the 2nd in command, was always on 2 way name and tutoying terms, as were all the office staff. Only the Patron was formal.

However, after I retired and the first time I saw the Boss in the supermarket, I noticed all of a sudden I was tu and, when this happened more than once I reciprocated and we have been on personal terms ever since, including David and Paul.

So as I say, as foreigners not au fait with the system, wait until you are addressed and behave accordingly. No matter who it is. :slightly_smiling_face:

I very occasionally get it right!