Basic French Greetings


Quizlet:  Practice Basic French Greetings

The basic French greeting is bonjour, which can mean hello, good morning, or good afternoon. 

When greeting someone in the evening (beginning around 6pm), say bonsoir.

To greet someone informally at any time of day, you can say salut, meaning hi.

BonjourHello, good morning, good afternoon
CoucouHi (very informal)
BonsoirGood evening
SalutHi / bye

French greeting tips

You should always greet people by using one of the French greetings above. In some countries, it’s acceptable to greet a sales clerk with just a smile, but not in France – always start out with a polite bonjour

Even when entering a waiting room at the doctor’s office or boarding a bus or train, the French will say bonjour as a general greeting to everyone within earshot.

If you know the person or are being introduced to someone, you’re also expected to either faire la bise (kiss cheeks) or se serrer la main (shake hands). When arriving at work or school, this means you should go around the room and individually greet each person.  Every single person. 

Faire la biseTo kiss cheeks (the number of times varies according to region)
Se serrer la mainTo shake hands

Don’t ever greet people by saying “bon matin” or “bon après-midi” – the first is incorrect and the second can only be used as a good-bye.

Exchanging pleasantries about one’s health is typical when greeting someone. There are several ways to ask how someone is, and which one to use depends on whether you want to be formal or informal (formal and informal is a really big thing, especially in France).



Whether talking to one person or more than one, ask Comment allez-vous ? (How are you?)


Je vais bien.I’m fine.
Bien, merci.Fine, thanks.
Bien, et vousFine, and you?



The most common question is Ça va? (literally, Is it going?), and it has variations:

Ça va bienIs it going well?
Comment ça va ?How’s it going?

If you’re just talking to one person, you can also ask Comment vas-tu ?


Ça vaI’m fine
Ça va bienI’m doing well
Pas malNot bad
Bien, et toi?Fine, and you?
Je vais bienI’m fine
Je vais malI’m not doing well
Très malVery bad
Comme ci, comme çaSo-so
Pas très bienNot so great
Ça va très bienI’m doing great
Ça ne va pas du toutI’m not doing well at all
La vie est belle!Life is beautiful!
Tout va bienAll is well



Quoi de neuf?What’s new?


Rien de nouveauNothing’s new
Pas grand choseNot much

Saying goodbye

Au revoirGoodbye
SalutBye or Hi
À tout de suiteSee you in a moment
À bientôt, À toute à l’heureSee you soon
À plus, À plus tardSee you later
À demainSee you tomorrow
À la semaine prochaineSee you next week
À la prochaineUntil next time
À la rentréeSee you in the fall
Bonne journéeHave a nice day
Bon après-midiHave a nice afternoon
Bonne soiréeHave a nice evening
Bonne nuitGood night

Good-bye gestures

As you say good-bye, you should also faire la bise (kiss cheeks) or se serrer la main (shake hands).

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