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French Culture/tutoyer vouvoyer


Dear Caro,

I am a woman in my thirties, taking some language courses at university.  My professor is about 40.  I've had him for over a year.  About three months ago he said we could tutoyer each other, between us, but in class I should address him as vous.  He is gay by the way so there aren't any romantic overtones here.
Well this semester is almost over, and long time ago he said a few of us would go out for drinks once it is over.  Well, on his recent email to me, which had answered some questions I had on grammar, he vouvoyed me.  He said regardez cette.... et votre composition.  He has never done this before, and I'm wondering why he did this, and if I should ask him.  A French friend told me this  is a slap in the face.  I keep thinking I've done something to offend him., but I can't think of anything.
Your take on this - last week is was dis-moi and now it's votre.
Please help me understand!


Hi Rosie,

I do not know the background you've had with this teacher, but for me it is not a slap in your face. Actually since you use 'vous' in class he answered with 'vous' in the email because it is professionnal, he respects the teacher-student relationship. If your email was personnal (not about grammar) he would have used 'tu'.

Maybe the best solution is to ask him to clarify the situation. Since you are learning French, it is understandable to have misunderstandings.

i hope this helps



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