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More Formality and Gender

Let’s dissect some of the phrases you’ve learned.

More Formality

Notice that some expressions have two different forms depending on whether you’re asking someone formally or informally. Again, you should use the more formal question ¿Cómo se llama usted? or ¿Habla usted inglés? when talking to someone who is older or of higher rank (a professor, your boss, or your doctor), or in a more formal environment. Use ¿Cómo te llamas? or ¿Hablas inglés? when talking to a younger person or at an informal party or gathering.

Again, the formal expressions using usted:

What’s your name? (formal) ¿Cómo se llama usted?
Do you speak English? (formal) ¿Habla usted inglés?

And informal expressions:

What’s your name? (informal) ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you speak English? (informal) ¿Hablas inglés?

Gender

Spanish adjectives change according to the gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) of the noun they modify. To say welcome, use bienvenido when talking to a man and bienvenida when talking to a woman. Similarly, the masculine form of pleased to meet you is encantado, and the feminine form is encantada.

Masculine Feminine
bienvenido (welcome) bienvenida (welcome)
encantado (please to meet you) encantada (please to meet you)

Just to clarify though, when you’re saying welcome, you’re saying “you are welcome” to someone else, and so the gender applies to the person you’re talking to, while when you say pleased to meet you, you’re saying that you are pleased, so the gender applies to yourself. Let’s look at a few different scenarios.

a man to a woman: ¡Bienvenida! (Welcome!), Encantado. (Pleased to meet you.)

a woman to a man: ¡Bienvenido! (Welcome!), Encantada. (Pleased to meet you.)

a man to a man: ¡Bienvenido! (Welcome!), Encantado. (Pleased to meet you.)

a woman to a woman: ¡Bienvenida! (Welcome!), Encantada. (Pleased to meet you.)