In a traditional household, I'm curious.. In what sense do people talk to one another?

Does a father talk to his children using "вы"? или "ты"?

To the same respect, does a child refer to his parents as "вы", или "ты"?

I'm just curious because the ты version is for informal conversations, but in most European languages, speaking in the "ВЫ" sense would be respectful.

  • 1
    As an addition to the previous answers, it should also be noted that it is very uncommon to address any child (less than 12-14 years old I think) as вы.
    – Spc_555
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 7:00

5 Answers 5


Usually ты is used when addressing parents/children.
But if a child is not very close to the grandparents, uncles, aunts etc (for instance - see them very rarely), вы is used.
Practically, the addressing form for a particular relative is usually established in the early childhood and remains for the whole life.

More detailed description: wikipedia

  • so by this logic then, if the child IS close with their grandparent, they will use "ты" then, right?
    – ddavison
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 21:24
  • 1
    Correct. But this can have exceptions depending on the situation, for example: at work.
    – Dmitry
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 21:41
  • 1
    Hmm... What is the reason for downvote? Please clarify.
    – Dmitry
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 22:37
  • 1
    @sircapsalot Yeah, in modern language if the child is close, "ты" is the best choice. You see, politeness is a double-edged sword. The reason is, it's a formal way to show basic respect by assuming a person you talk to is, probably, a respected citizen (safer than to assume they are morons). On one hand, it shows your respect, on the other — it automatically creates some distance. Again, rules may depend on the language. In contemporary Russian usage people do not, as a rule, speak with polite "вы" inside family, and no one uses "вы" towards kids (neither adults, nor kids themselves).
    – Shady_arc
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 0:13
  • This is a wrong answer.
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 20:42

Random facts in addition to other answers:

  • Among upper class since XVIII (when вы was established as formal singular) until early XX century (Socialist Revolution) children saying вы to their parents (while parents said ты to them) were not unusual.

  • Мама, вы seems to be one of typical addressing forms to mother-in-law nowadays.

  • As regards permanency addressing form established in childhood (see @Dmitry’s answer), there seems to be exceptions. In fact, that is the only case when somebody switch over from ты to вы which is not implying worsening relations, I can imagine.

    I in person had changed form of address for several not very close relatives from e. g. дядя Игорь, тыИгорь Владимирович, вы when grew up (they still call me Дима, ты).

  • However, shifting from ты to вы indeed is not common. That implies, that hence it’s highly unusual to address вы to children, not only to your own or in family, I mean, but anywhere to any children; a person who knew you well in your childhood, not only relative, but, for instance, school teacher who taught you since the fifth grade (i. e. 11–12 y. o.), most probably would say you ты forever.


In modern language always ты is used between parents and children (unless the person who makes address wants to explicitly underline they do not recognize the other party as their relatives).

Addressing in such circumstances by вы would mean "I do not know you and do not want to, I do not recognize you as my father/son, who are you to me?", this may be used in a case of formal non-recognition of the familial relationship or in a case of extreme conflict.

  • wow! is this true? I don't see an upvote so i don't want to believe it, in case it's not true :) Just don't want to get false facts.. It'd make sense if it were true, I just really find it interesting
    – ddavison
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 16:30
  • 2
    Sounds pretty legit to me.
    – Spc_555
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 6:57
  • 1
    Using Google I found a forum where parents are discussing if the children should use "вы" when addressing parents. Looks like some families still teach the children to use "вы" even for mother and father.
    – Artemix
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 8:32
  • 1
    Yes, that's true. And also, вы is used at work. E.g., a boy is studying in the school where his mother works as a teacher — then, at school, he addresses her по имени и отчеству и на "вы". this is not something imaginary, it's my cousin's case. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 16:31

Don't know if personal experience is indicative, but my own experience corroborates Dmitry's reply.

I have always addressed members of my family using ты, which included my mother, my father, one of my grandmothers who lived with us. The other grandmother which lived separately I've never felt close and never considered part of my family but on the other hand I've always respected her highly; and thus I've always used вы to address her.

My uncles and aunts I always addressed using вы except one, who was very sympathetic to me. My cousins always got ты.

I knew of only one family where a child addressed his parents with вы, and that family was quite peculiar.

  • Was there any jealousy between your grandmother and other people if you were addressing everyone as ты, and her as вы? or does that not happen :)
    – ddavison
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 16:24
  • 1
    No, there was not.
    – ach
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 0:41

It depends on family. But most common is to refer to parent and child as "ты" and to grandparent as "вы".

Горе от ума. А.С.Грибоедов

Ah! grand' maman, вот чудеса! вот ново!
Вы не слыхали здешних бед?
Послушайте. Вот прелести! вот мило!..

Капитанская дочка. А.С.Пушкин

Матушка твоя, узнав о твоем поединке и о том, что ты ранен, с горести занемогла и теперь лежит. Что из тебя будет? Молю бога, чтоб ты исправился, хоть и не смею надеяться на его великую милость. Отец твой А. Г.

Тарас Бульба. Н.В. Гоголь

-- Не смейся, не смейся, батьку! -- сказал наконец старший из них.
-- Смотри ты, какой пышный! А отчего ж бы не смеяться?
-- Да так, хоть ты мне и батько, а как будешь смеяться, то, ей-богу, поколочу!
-- Ах ты, сякой-такой сын! Как, батька?.. -- сказал Тарас Бульба, отступивши с удивлением несколько шагов назад.
-- Да хоть и батька. За обиду не посмотрю и не уважу никого.

  • 2
    Тарас Бульба is completely unrelated here. Whenever the action of novel takes place, it’s not later than early XVII century, formal singular вы just did not exist that time. Especially in Запорожкая Сечь. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 23:23
  • 1
    Горе от ума and Капитанская дочка are hardly relevant too. They can be used to prove situation of Griboyedov / Pushkin times, but you seems to talk about modern state, which is totally different. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 23:42
  • I also doubt that it is most common to say вы to own grandparents. Relevant references would be highly desirable. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 23:42
  • In short: −1 to your answer. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 23:43
  • Молодец! Спасибо!
    – power
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 12:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.