French › Introductory lessons › Greetings · Les salutations

Vocabulary · Greetings · Les salutations edit

Salut   / (sah-lew) Hi./Bye. informal
Bonjour   /bɔ̃.ʒuʁ/ (boh(n)-zhoor) Hello the normal greeting; all day
Bonsoir   /bɔ̃.swaʁ/ (boh(n)-swahr) Good evening, good night, hello after 19h00 (7pm)
Bonne soirée /bɔn swa.ʁe/ (bohn swah-ray) Good evening une soirée can also mean a party
Bonne nuit   /bɔn nɥi/ (bohn nooee) Good night the normal farewell after dark
Quoi de neuf ? /kwɑ də nœf/ (kwah duh nuhf) What's up?, How's it going? lit: what's new
Pas grand-chose. /pɑ gʁɑ̃ ʃoz/ (pah grah(n) shohz) Not much. lit: no big-thing

When talking to one's peers or to children, Salut is used as a greeting. Its English equivalents would be hi and hey. Bonjour, literally meaning good day, should be used for anyone else. One way of remembering these greetings, is that they come in masculine/feminine pairs. One is upon arrival, the other upon departure.

jour : bonjour / bonne journée
matin : bonjour / bonne matinée (early in the morning), bonne journée (early or late in the morning)
après-midi : bonjour / bon(ne) après-midi (early in the afternoon), bonne journée (early or late in the afternoon), bonne soirée (late in the afternoon)
soir : bonjour, bonsoir / bonne soirée (early or late in the evening), bonne nuit (very late in the evening)
nuit : bonjour, bonsoir / bonne nuit

The French never say Bon matin, they do use matinée, journée, soirée but never use nuitée.

Vocabulary · Good-bye · Au revoir edit

Salut   / (sah-lew) Hi./Bye. informal
Au revoir /o ʁə.vwaʁ/ (oh ruh-vwahr) Good-bye lit: to/until seeing again
À demain /a də.mɛ̃/ (ah duh-ma(n)) See you tomorrow lit: to/until tomorrow
À tout à l'heure /a tu‿ta lœʁ/ (ah too-tah luhr) See you (later today) idiomatic, lit: to all to the hour
À la prochaine /a la proʃɛn/ (ah lah proh-shehn) See you (tomorrow) lit: to/until next time
À bientôt /a bjɛ̃.to/ (ah byuhe(n)-toh) See you soon lit: to/until soon
À plus tard /a ply taʁ/ (ah plew tahr) See you later À plus (short version for "see you")
Ciao /tʃao/ (chow) Bye Italian
Bonne soirée /bɔn swaʁ.e/ (bohn swahr-ay) Have a good evening
Bonne journée /bɔn ʒuʁ.ne/ (bohn zhoor-nay) Have a nice day

In addition to being used as an informal greeting, Salut also means bye. Again, it should only be used among friends. Another informal greeting is ciao, an Italian word commonly used in France. Au revoir is the only formal way to say Good-bye. If you will be meeting someone again soon, use À bientôt or À tout à l'heure. À demain is used if you will be seeing the person the following day.

Vocabulary · Names edit

Tu t'appelles comment ? is used to informally ask someone for his or her name. It is normal to just reply by stating your name, however you may also respond with je m'appelle , meaning I am called....

Jacques Bonsoir, Marie.
Good evening, Marie.
Marie Euh ? Tu t'appelles comment ?
Eh? What's your name?
Jacques Moi, je m'appelle Jacques.
Me, my name is Jacques.
Marie Ah, oui. Quoi de neuf, Jacques ?
Ah, yes. What's new, Jacques?
Jacques Pas grand-chose. Alors, au revoir, à demain, Marie.
Not much. Then, bye, see you tomorrow, Marie.
Marie À la prochaine, Jacques.
See you, Jacques.

Vocabulary · How are you? · Ça va ? edit

Comment allez-vous ? (formal) ,
Comment vas-tu ? (informal) ,
Comment ça va ? / Ça va ? (informal)
  /kɔ.mɑ̃‿tal.e vu/ ,
  /kɔ.mɑ̃ va ty/ ,
  /kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va/
How are you? lit: How do you go?, It goes?
Est-ce que vous allez bien ?   /es.kə vu.z‿al.e bjɛ̃/ Are you well?
Ça va (très) bien   /sa va (tʁɛ) bjɛ̃/ I'm doing (very) well. lit. It's going (very) well
Je vais bien   /ʒə ve bjɛ̃/ I am well.
Ça va
Oui, ça va
  /sa va/
  /wi sa va/
Things are going fine.
Yes, I'm fine.
Très bien, merci   /tʁɛ bjɛ̃ mɛʁ.si/ Very well, thanks.
Pas mal   /pɑ mal/ Not Bad
Pas si bien/pas très bien   /pɑ si (tʁɛ) bjɛ̃/ Not so well
(très) mal   /tʁɛ mal/ (very) bad
Comme ci, comme ça   /kɔm si kɔm sa/ So-so
Désolé(e)   /de.zɔ.le/ Sorry. Désolée if feminine, same pronunciation
Et toi ?
Et vous ?
  /e twɑ/
  /e vu/
And you? (informal)
And you? (formal)

DIALOGUE: Two good friends, Olivier and Luc, are meeting.

Olivier Salut Luc. Ça va ?
Hi Luc. How are you?
Luc Ça va bien, merci. Et toi, ça va ?
I'm well, thanks. And you, how are you?
Olivier Pas mal.
Not bad.
Luc Quoi de neuf ?
What's new?
Olivier Pas grand-chose. Au revoir Luc.
Not much. Goodbye, Luc.
Luc Au revoir, à demain.
Goodbye, see you tomorrow.

Ça va ? is used to ask someone how they are doing. The phrase literally means It goes?, referring to the body and life. A more formal way to say this is Comment allez-vous ?. You can respond by using ça va as a statement; Ça va. in this case is used for I'm fine. The adverb bien /bjɛ̃/ is used to say well, and is often said both alone and as Ça va bien. Bien is preceded by certain adverbs to specify the degree to which you are well. Common phrases are assez bien, meaning rather well, très bien, meaning very well, and vraiment bien, meaning really well. The adverb mal /mal/ is used to say badly. Pasnot /pɑ/ is commonly added to mal to form Pas mal., meaning Not bad. Comme ci, comme ça., literally translating to Like this, like that., is used to say So, so.

To be polite, you can add merci /mɛʁ.si/, meaning thank you, in your responses to the questions e.g., très bien, merci.

Exercises edit


(Highlight or hover over a line to show the answer.)

Translate from French to English.
Bonne soirée Have a good evening.
À tout à l'heure See you (later today)
Je vais bien. I am well.
Et vous ? And you? (formal)
À demain See you tomorrow
Comment allez-vous ? How are you? (formal)
Salut Hi./Bye.
Très bien, merci. Very well, thanks.
Est-ce que vous allez bien ? Are you well?
Je m'appelle My name is
Bonne nuit Good night
À bientôt See you soon
Pas si bien/pas très bien Not so well
Ça va bien I'm doing well.
Bonjour Hello

(Highlight or hover over a line to show the answer.)

Translate from English to French.
What's your name? Tu t'appelles comment ?
Have a nice day Bonne journée
Hi./Bye. Salut.
Not much. Pas grand-chose.
Have a good evening Bonne soirée
Your friend François sees you and starts a conversation. How might you respond?
  • François: Salut. Comment vas-tu ?
  • You: _________
  • François: Quoi de neuf ?
  • You: _________
  • François: À la prochaine.
  • You: _________

ExerciseBasic phrases dialogue
Put the following conversation in order:
1. MichelJe ne vais pas très bien.Bonjour, JacquesAu revoirComment ça va?
2. JacquesDésolé.Ça va très bien! Et vous? Allez-vous bien?À demain.Salut, Michel!
1. MichelBonjour, JacquesComment ça va?Je ne vais pas très bien.Au revoir
2. JacquesSalut, Michel!Ça va très bien! Et vous? Allez-vous bien?Désolé.À demain.