I know that

  • University professors are nearly always on вы with their students.
  • School-age children are always addressed as ты by adults.

So at what stage in the education system does the switch from ты to вы happen?

  • Mileage varies greatly. I address my father-in-law as ты because we used to work together and at the same time address and am addressed by some of my friends back from the college as вы as a long running joke.
    – Quassnoi
    Mar 27 '17 at 19:48

From my personal experience the switch happens when the student leaves school (around the age of 17) and goes to university. It depends on individual teachers of course. Some school teachers might address senior schoolchildren as вы in an attempt to promote their self-esteem and sense of responsibility. University students may get an occasional ты, especially if they are misbehaving. :)

  • 2
    I studied at phisics-mathematics school in the 8th-11th grades, all the teachers always addressed all the pupils as вы.
    – Yellow Sky
    Mar 27 '17 at 11:46

I don't think there is a simple age separation. It all depends on surroundings, teachers, students, school/institution, etc.

For example, in the school, from which I graduated, all teachers addressed all students as вы from 8th grade, that is, from about age 15 or so.

When I started university, all university students (in my uni) were normally addressed by teachers as вы. At the same time, some people that I studied with at the uni said that they were never called вы before starting the uni, that it, age 17 or so.

If you are ok to settle on a "soft" boundary, then I would say it's somewhere between 15 and 18 years old.

Outside the education, there's no clear separation whatsoever and the circumstances will dictate вы vs ты.


Typically the transition happens when the student finishes the school. When he/she hands papers for entrance examinations to university, he/she is already called вы by the stuff.

Some high school students, especially in elite schools, are also called вы. In some elite schools, all students are called вы.

It is not a matter of age. If university student is 16 years old, he/she will be called вы. William James Sidis, if he lived today in Russia, would be called вы as a student of Russian university. If a school student is 18, he would still be called ты.

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