Although linguisticians love sticking these phenomena in handy categories, for practical purposes it should be noted that the degrees of familiarity at which one switches from the higher to the lower register form vary quite a lot between different languages and dialects. Thus in standard French the vous form is ubiquitous between adults even in quite close relationships, while Italian lei and Dutch U give way to tu and jij at a fairly early stage of acquaintance.

Furthermore some languages have more than just the two levels: European Portuguese probably scores highest with a scale that runs from:

  • vossa excelencia
  • o doutor/a ingenhera
  • o senhor/a senhora
  • você
  • tu

There have been attempts to stamp out the distinction: the Italian fascists brought in the use of the unmarked voi in an attempt to recreate the Latin tu (which was just a singular unmarked form); like most government imposed linguistic reforms, it didn't work (exceptions are the terminology of Italian football and UK decimal currency), although singular voi is still used in some dialects as an intermediate between tu and lei or as the polite form.