Hindi Language Blog

Aap, Tum and Tu Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Hindi Language

You might be little confused with three form of you in Hindi, “Aap”, “Tum” & “Tu”. Even after going through all Hindi films, literature,  National broadcast, TV shop and everything at your disposal – Can you differentiate when to use what?

Let me show you the points that why some people use a particular form in a particular environment and when to expect a particular form from an Indian if you happen to befriend them or start a relationship.

Aap ( आप )
Aap is most formal form of “you”. It is used to address an elder, stranger, relatives or used in official use. This form must always be used to address an elder (formal or informal) and a stranger. It shows respect for a person. The respect apart, this form can show the distance between the people. In informal environment, it is understood that when a person continue to use “Aap” for a long time, he wishes to maintain a distance. In the Indian society, now days majority of parents are forcing their children to use “Aap” to address everyone including themselves. If you could speak Hindi and would be communicating with an Indian for the first time, you would have heard it already in your communication.

Tum ( तुम )
Tum is a less formal form of “you”. It is used in informal environment, among elder members in family, married friends , official environment among work colleagues etc. It shows that the people know each other and at same time, wish to give the respect due to age or environment. In Hindi, it is the most conservative address for “you” to address a familiar person. In familiar environment, if you are addressed with “tum”, don’t get nosy that you are now given a less respect. It is most likely that you are now more accepted in their circle, understanding or a relationship.

Tu ( तू )
Tu is the informal form of “you”. It is used in an informal environment, close relationship and illiterate masses. It is also used to address God. It represent a close bond among the person and it is used by close friends, pre-marital couples, young family members, same age relatives etc. Its wrong use could be offensive and it is heard sometime in verbal fight or in high temperament.
This form has been used and still used by children to address their parents. Some parents are expecting their children to use “Aap” instead of “Tum” or “Tu”. To new generation, the use of “Aap” is valid in even in close relationship because it represent etiquette, manners and being civilized.
Though, the other people think that overuse of formalities are killing the essence of human bonding and everything that represent it. My personal opinion is “Aap” could be avoided in a close relationship.

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About the Author: Nitin Kumar

Nitin Kumar is a native Hindi speaker from New Delhi, India. His education qualification include Masters in Robotics and Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Currently, he is working in the Research and Development in Robotics in Germany. He is avid language learner with varied level of proficiency in English, German, Spanish, and Japanese. He wish to learn French one day. His passion for languages motivated him to share his mother tongue, Hindi, and culture and traditions associated with its speakers. He has been working with Transparent Language since 2010 and has written over 430 blogs on various topics on Hindi language and India, its culture and traditions. He is also the Administrator for Hindi Facebook page which has a community of over 330,000 members.


  1. Praveen:

    Very well explained!
    One regional aspect is also there. For example, in Bihar, Aap is preferred more whereas in Mumbai, they prefer to be less formal and use Tu more commonly.

  2. ravinder:

    I was confused between tu & tum ,good explanation.

  3. L.Hrangkhawl:

    I am really satisfied with the explanation.

  4. Gunesh:

    Good Explanation..
    Thank you.

  5. L. Dwijen:

    This explanation is very good. I have now no confusion of the matter.
    Thank so much.