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Ti or vi?

While in English, we use only one personal pronoun (you) to address either a friend, a colleague, or an elder, in Croatian, there are two pronouns: ti and vi. The use of these pronouns depends on whom you are speaking to and what type of social relationship you have with that person, specifically, whether it is a more or less formal relationship. Of course, we English speakers make these distinctions in formality in other ways, but in Croatian, the rules of formality also include using these two pronouns.

Vi is used when addressing a stranger, an elder, or your boss at work, and is therefore the formal pronoun. Whereas ti, the informal pronoun, is used when speaking to friends, family, or someone younger than you. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure which pronoun is appropriate, err on the side of caution and default to using vi until the person you are speaking with says it’s okay to use the informal ti.