Are you planning to visit France soon? Or do you have French friends or colleagues? Learning French greetings is essential to make a good impression and start your conversations on the right foot. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about saying “hi” and “bye” in French, from basic phrases to more advanced expressions.
French is a beautiful and rich language, with a wide range of greetings and expressions to use in different contexts. Whether you’re traveling to France, working with French-speaking colleagues, or simply want to expand your language skills, learning French greetings is a great way to start.
In this article, we’ll explore the most common French greetings and how to use them properly, including pronunciation tips, cultural insights, and helpful examples. So, whether you want to say “bonjour” to your new French neighbors or “au revoir” to your colleagues at the end of the day, read on to discover the secrets of French greetings.
It is important to remember that In France and with French people it’s considered impolite to skip the greeting and jump right into a conversation or when asking for something in the bistro, restaurant, or shop. So take a moment to say hello and introduce yourself.
Basic French Greetings
Let’s start with the most basic French greetings that you’ll hear and use every day. These phrases are simple and easy to remember, but they can make a big difference in how you’re perceived by French speakers.
- Bonjour – Hello (used any time of the day)
- Adding a title is very common in French and adds to the politeness, for example: Bonsoir Monsieur or Bonsoir Madame.
- Salut – Hi/Bye (informal, used among friends or in casual settings)
Remember to always use “bonjour” when you meet someone for the first time, regardless of the time of day. It should also only be used with any one person just once a day – unlike ‘hello’ in English.
More Advanced French Greetings
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced French greetings that show your language skills and cultural awareness. These expressions may not be used as frequently, but they can make a big impact when used in the right context.
- Comment allez-vous ? – How are you? (formal)
- Je vais très bien, merci. – I am well, thank you.
- Et vous – comment allez-vous – And you, how are you?
- Ça va ? – How’s it going? (informal)
- Oui, ça va. – Yes, I am good.
- Et toi – ça va ? – And you (informal), how’s it going?
- Enchanté – Pleased (enchanted) to meet you (used when meeting someone for the first time). Or Enchantée when a female is speaking though the pronunciation is the same as enchanté). This is an abbreviation of one of these more complete phrases:
- Enchanté de vous rencontrer. – Enchanted to meet you.
- Enchanté de faire votre connaissance. – Enchanted to make your acquaintance.
- Or another way is Je suis ravie de faire votre connaissance. – I am please to make your acquaintance.
Note that “enchanté” is used only by the person who is being introduced, not the one doing the introduction.
Just as there are different greetings for different times of day and occasions, there are also different farewells in French depending on the situation. Here are some common French farewells:
- Au revoir – Goodbye (used in both formal and informal settings)
- À bientôt – See you soon (used when you expect to see the person again soon)
- À la prochaine fois – Until next time (used when you don’t know exactly when you’ll see the person again)
- À tout à l’heure – See you soon (the term tout à l’heure means ‘just now’ or ‘in a moment’)
- À demain – See you tomorrow (used when parting ways in the evening and you plan to see the person the next day)
By using the appropriate farewell, you show consideration for the other person and respect for French cultural norms. So, whether you’re saying “au revoir” in a formal setting or “à bientôt” to a friend, make sure you’re using the appropriate farewell for the occasion.
And farewells for different Times of Day
There are also common farewells that are specific to the time of day or other occasions:
- Bonne journée – Have a good day (used when parting ways during the day)
- Bon après-midi – Good afternoon (used from around noon until 6 pm)
- Bonne soirée – Have a good evening (used when saying goodbye in the evening)
- Bonne nuit – Goodnight (when going to bed)
- Bon week-end – Have a good weekend (used on Fridays or when saying goodbye for the weekend)
Keep in mind that the specific times when these greetings are used may vary depending on the region and the context.
Careful with bonsoir. It is a greeting and it’s used during the evening hours while bonne soirée is the corresponding farewell.
French Greetings for Different Occasions
In addition to time-specific greetings, there are also specific French greetings for different occasions. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Félicitations – Congratulations (used to congratulate someone on a special achievement)
- Bonne chance – Good luck (used to wish someone good luck)
- Joyeux Noël – Merry Christmas (used during the Christmas season)
- Bonne année – Happy New Year (used during the New Year’s season)
- Joyeuses Pâques – Happy Easter (used during the Easter season)
- Joyeuse Saint-Valentin – Happy Valentine’s Day (used on Valentine’s Day)
Informal or Slang French Greetings and Farewells
Here’s a list of 20 common informal or slang greetings and farewells in French:
- Salut – Hi / Bye (used in both greeting and farewell)
- Coucou – Hey there (used in greeting). A bit cutey and used by girls.
- Tchao or Ciao – Bye (used only as a farewell – unlike in Italian where it is used a both a greeting and farewell)
- À plus – See you later (used in farewell)
- Wesh – What’s up (used in greeting)
- Quoi de neuf ? – What’s new? (used in greeting)
- Bien ou quoi ? – Good or what? (used in greeting)
- À toute – Catch you later (used in farewell)
- Adios – Goodbye (used in farewell)
- Bisous – Kisses (used in farewell)
- À la prochaine – Until next time (used in farewell)
- À plus tard – See you later (used in farewell)
- Allez – Go (used in farewell)
- À la revoyure – See you soon (used in farewell)
- À la prochaine fois – Until next time (used in farewell)
- C’est parti – Let’s go (used in greeting or farewell)
It’s important to note that these expressions are very informal or slang and should be used with discretion, as they may not be appropriate in all situations. It’s always best to be aware of the setting and the people you’re speaking to before using these informal or slang expressions.
- Âllo (Hello) is only every used on the telephone.
Learning French greetings is an essential part of communicating effectively in French-speaking countries or with French-speaking individuals. By using the appropriate greeting for the occasion, you show cultural sensitivity and respect, and you can build stronger relationships with French speakers.
From basic phrases like “bonjour” to more advanced expressions like “enchanté(e),” we hope this guide has provided you with a comprehensive overview of French greetings. Remember to practice your pronunciation and use the appropriate greeting for the occasion, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering French greetings.
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