Basic French Greetings You Must Know
How To Greet In French
What do you say to the French people if you want to greet them? In French, there’s a lot of phrases and expressions you can use to greet someone. Let’s see and learn what are the common words used by people in France when it comes to greeting friends and family.
Basic French Greetings — Common Words & Expressions in French
Bonjour — Hi/Good morning
If we meet someone for the first time on that day, we usually say hi (in English). Now, the question is how do we say hello in French? Well, in French, saying hello or hi will be conveyed through the word bonjour. It is one of the ways to say hello to someone in ways of French greeting. Literally, bon means ‘good’ while jour means ‘day’.
When put together, it means good day, which simply translates to ‘hi’ and ‘hello’. Bonjour also carries the same meaning as good morning. So, whenever you’re in France and you want to say good morning or just greet anyone, feel free to smile and say bonjour!
Bon après-midi — Good afternoon
After having your morning coffee or brunch, if you want to part with any French people, you could say bon après-midi — it’s a phrase which means good afternoon. Remember to only use bon après-midi from 12 p.m. onwards, up until 6 p.m. Another important tip — the French people typically use this specific phrase when they’re parting during the day; at the end of a meeting or a gossip session. It’s almost like a goodbye phrase but specifically for the afternoon. So, it’s best to avoid saying bon après-midi at the beginning of your conversation because we don’t want any French people to frown upon us now, do we?
Bonsoir — Good evening
After 6 p.m. is regarded as evening — so, this is the perfect time for you to start saying good evening! Like bonjour, bonsoir literally means good evening; bon = ‘good’ and soir = ‘evening’. In French greetings, this one, in particular, can be used anytime — when you want to greet someone or when you want to leave them. It’s like ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ but only for the evenings. Remember! You can only use bonsoir when the time of the day is evening (no one uses it in the morning!)
Bonne-nuit — Good night
After a long day of work, meeting, or shopping with your colleagues and friends, we usually bid them farewell by saying good night. If you’re in France, you can get going and let your friends know you’re retiring from the day by saying the word bonne-nuit. Also, like the English ‘good night’, bonne-nuit is used right before a person goes to bed. So, if you’re hanging out with your friends and one of them starting to say bonne-nuit, you should know that they’re already tired and want to call the day off.
Au revoir — Goodbye
This phrase is the standard goodbye phrase. As for how bonjour is used to say hi, this one means to say goodbye. Being a rather formal expression, it’s definitely the right words to say everywhere you go — going out from a coffee shop, leaving the bus, leaving the classroom. Living in the contemporary era, you must’ve heard au revoir being said literally anywhere (even if you’re not a native French person!)
This word is globally famous and we can hear it all over the TV, radio, and the Internet. It’s certainly one of the most common words used by the local French people. So, you might want to remember this useful phrase very clearly in your mind, because some say if you don’t say this word (after purchasing items or even before hanging up on the phone), the locals will consider you as rude. So, be generous with your au revoir and say them all around!
Salut — Hi/Bye
Salut is another way to say goodbye in French, in an informal way. As au revoir is the formal, polite way of saying goodbye, salut is all the way around. It is an informal greeting used by French speakers to casually bid farewell. To simply say, salut means bye-bye. But then, interestingly, salut can mean both ‘hi’ and ‘bye-bye’, depending on the context.
Sometimes the French speakers greet each other in the morning by saying salut instead of bonjour (bonjour is the standard way of saying g0od morning/hi). If you’re with your close friends and family, feel free to use salut but try your best — at all cost to not use the word in a formal professional setting; don’t use it with your boss, don’t use it with your superiors because it is very informal in nature. For formal contexts, use bonjour instead, okay?
Ça va? — How are you?
Another commonly used French greeting is the French word Ça va, which means how are you. So, after you hello in French, to a French person, you can ask him how he is doing by asking your friend Ça va? This particular phrase is one of the most typical French greetings used in France, by both native speakers and non-native speakers. Ça va is the simplified version of comment Ça va, which means how are you doing. You can see how both have essentially the same meaning, so the shorter version is most convenient in French greetings.
Feel free to use both Ça va and comment Ça va in daily conversations, be it formal or informal contexts because both are correct and thus, can be used interchangeably. So, comment Ça va? Are you doing good so far reading these French greeting tips? I hope you are!
Ça va/Ça va bien — I am fine
Yup, don’t get confused yet. In French, Ça va can be a question and it can be an answer at the same time! Confusing but also interesting! Ça va and Ça va bien mean ‘I am fine’. Sometimes, the French people only say bien, which is already adequate to answer the question. If you’re having a good day and want to give a quick, easy answer to how are you is by saying bien!
Learn Other French Words and Expressions
These are some of the basic info on standard French greetings and tips on how to say hello in French. If you’re keen to learn one of the most attractive languages in the world, keep in touch with this blog to learn more about other French common phrases. You can also learn French through Ling App, an interactive, fun app that can boost your language acquisition through its creative games and quizzes. You might surprise yourself to see how the French language will no longer sound alien to you after getting lessons from the Ling App!