On Peut Se Tutoyer ? - French Expression Explained

woman holding coffee cup

Expression: On peut se tutoyer ?

Pronunciation: [o(n) peu seu tu twa yay]

Meaning: Can we use tu with each other?​

Register: informal


French makes an important distinction between tu, the informal "you," and vous, the formal "you." There are even verbs: tutoyer means "to use tu" and vouvoyer means "to use vous." Deciding whether to use ​tu or vous can be difficult for non-native speakers, and then even when you do choose correctly, you sometimes need to make a switch.

That's where the French expression on peut se tutoyer comes in.

Some situations, such as a meeting between friends of friends, are borderline. The French feel that maybe they should use vous but would prefer tu. In order to avoid offense, they'll ask on peut se tutoyer ? Another common scenario occurs when you start out using vous with someone and eventually become friends - at some point you'll want to make the switch to tu.

Variations: Peut-on se tutoyer ? On se tutoie ?