10 Useful French Greetings For Every Occasion

10 Useful French Greetings For Every Occasion

Bonjour to you, too!

 

You know what this means, don’t you? 

And do you know any other greeting in French?

We can’t say that it will be a piece of cake, but it isn’t as hard as you might think.

 

There are many more ways to say hello than just ‘Bonjour.’ 

It’s time to learn something new and to find out about formal and informal ways to salute someone, or kiss on the cheek. 

 

So, are you ready?

Then, let’s get into the world of French salutations, and find out how to use them.

How to learn French Greetings?

There are some fun ways and methods that can help you learn French expressions. They are not just fun, but they are also fast and effective.

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Flashcards

Flashcards are very simple to use and very effective. That’s why they are often used as a language learning tool in schools and courses.

  • Fun quizzes

You can make your own fun quiz and play with your friends, teachers, colleagues, or you can ask someone to make it for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone or in a group, you can gather everyone, make a quiz, and have fun together.

  • Games

Games aren’t just for kids. Adults love them, too. 

Language learners love using games because they make it easier for them to memorize new phrases.

  • Movies

In every movie, you can hear French salutations and goodbyes. If you are a person who can’t live without movies, then this method is perfect for you. 

French Greetings

Like most of the languages worldwide, French also has formal and informal ways of speaking. 

The formal way is used when speaking with someone older, in business conversations, or when talking to strangers.

On another hand, you use the informal way to talk to friends and family members.

For that reason, some of these greetings in French may seem unfamiliar to you at first, but you’ll quickly get your ear used to them too.

Bonjour - Hello/Good morning

This greeting is definitely the most familiar one. Literally, it can be translated as ‘good day.’

It’s the most polite greeting, so it can come in handy in every for both formal and informay speaking.

We can say that in some way, this phrase is almost universal. You can use it to say ‘hello,’ ‘good morning,’ and even good afternoon in French.  

Bonsoir - Good evening

After 6 pm, the ‘Bonjour’ phrase is replaced with the ‘Bonsoir’ phrase. 

If you accidentally use the ‘Bonjour’ phrase instead of this one, don’t panic. It’s not such a huge mistake, and no one will get offended.

 

Note: Except in Quebec, Canada, where people say ‘Bon matin’ which means ‘Good morning,’ On the other hand, there is no proper phrase for Good morning in French. Instead, use ‘Bonjour,’ or ‘Salut,’ depending on the occasion and situation.

Salut - Hi

The phrase ‘Salut’ is simply Hi in French, and it is an informal equivalent to ‘Bonjour.’ 

It is mainly used to greet close friends, so you use it with those that you see quite often or know very well.

Try not to use it in business meetings because you will sound unprofessional.

It’s really easy to pronounce. However, don’t forget that the letter ‘t’ is silent here, so it’s not pronounced.

Coucou - Hey there!

If there’s a more informal way to greet someone than Salut, then it is the Coucou phrase. It’s a fresh, positive salutation that you should keep for your close friends or family members.

This salutation comes from ‘jouer à coucou‘ which means ‘to play peekaboo.’ You see how playful it  is? Use it that way.

Allô? - Hello?

This greeting is not like the English one. You can’t use it on the street or when walking in a room. It’s used to answer the phone. It’s usually pronounced like a question with a rising intonation.

There’s one more situation when this phrase can be used. When a person doesn’t hear what you are saying, you can use it ironically to grab their attention.

Quoi de Neuf? – What’s up?

As you may see from its translation, this phrase is used informally, just like in English. 

If you want to use it to greet a friend or a family member, then you can use Quoi de neuf. 

It literally means ‘What’s new?’ and you can also use it to greet a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Enchanté(e)! – Nice to meet you! / Delighted!

When you meet someone for the first time, you usually want to make a good impression. 

That’s where this greeting comes up. We can’t say that it’s exactly a greeting, but among other forms and uses it has, we can classify it here too.

It has a formal connotation and can be used with anyone, anywhere and at any time. 

It is very polite but not too serious, so don’t worry if you use it in formal situations or on the street.

It’s translated as ‘delighted, enjoyed,’ ugh, but the literal translation is ‘enchanted, bewitched.’ 

Ça va? – How’s it going?

It’s hard to translate this phrase, but the most appropriate way would be ‘does it go?’

Just like the ‘Bonjour’ greeting, this one is also used in almost every situation. 

Comment Ça va? ‘ and  ‘Ça va?’ are practically the same. It’s up to you to choose.

This is not a basic greeting, but we can list it here because you can say it together with the phrase ‘Salut’. For example, ‘Salut, ca va?’

The answer to this question can be ‘Ça va’ as well. 

The only difference is in the intonation. 

It means ‘It’s going well.’ or if you say ‘Tout va bien,’ it means ‘Everything is going well.’

You can also respond with ‘Comme-ci, comme-ça, ’ which can be translated as ‘so-so’ or ‘not bad, not great.’

How to pronounce French greetings?

Yes, French pronunciation is a bit challenging, so if you can read these salutations successfully, then great job!

If you are still struggling with them, don’t despair. 

We suggest practicing pronunciation with tongue twisters.

They can be tricky but fun, too. 

Examples of formal and casual greetings

Many learners, especially beginners, find learning from examples extremely helpful. So let’s see the difference between formal and casual greetings in a real example.

In the following lines, we’ll show you some conversations so that you can see formal and informal greetings.

Formal greeting

Marie meets Piere Dubois in a business meeting.

  • Marie: Bonjour Monsieur Dubois. 
  • Piere: Bonjour! 
  • Marie: Comment allez-vous ? 
  • Piere: Ca va bien, merci. 

Casual (informal) greeting

Anne and Martin are good friends. They see each other in the street accidentally.

  • Anne: Salut! (Hi!)
  • Martin: Salut, Anne! (Hi Anne!)
  • Anne: Tu vas bien? (How are you doing?)
  • Martin: Ça va. (All good.)

Conclusion

So, now you have enough French salutations to get started. 

Learning these phrases is the first step to starting a conversation with a native speaker. After mastering them, you are ready to learn something else. 

What is a typical French greeting?

French people either kiss on the cheek, shake hands or say Bonjour when they see each other.

How do you respond to greetings in French?

You can repeat what they told you. So if they say Salut, you can say Salut back. Also, you can say Bonjour.

How do you say hello in French Bonjour?

Bonjour means Good day but it's usually used to say Hi causally.

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