French Greetings

Overview

French greetings vary widely, depending on the time of day, context, and your relationship with the person. From polite conversations with your boss, to answering the phone, to writing formal emails, to holiday greetings and saying a customary goodbye in French, there are a lot of options to choose from!

Two businesspeople greeting each other at heliport

Les salutations – Greetings

Greetings in France are very important in French culture. Below you will find a list of common French greetings that are used in a variety of social settings.

French ExpressionTranslation
Bonjour !Good morning/Hello!
Salut !Hi/Bye!
Allô ?Hello?
Au-revoir !Goodbye!
À bientôt !See you soon!
À la prochaine !See you next time!
À demain !See you tomorrow!
Bon après-midi !Have a good afternoon!
Bon week-end !Have a good weekend!
Bonne semaine !Have a good week!

Contexts:

  • Bonjour is used at all times of the day. It also takes the place of saying “Good morning.” Be sure to say Bonjour to the shop owner or front-of-house employee as soon as you walk into any store or restaurant in France!
  • Salut is more informal than Bonjour and Au-revoir.


La Bise

  • In addition to a verbal greeting, people in France do something called la biseLa bise is typically done between friends and family where they give an air kiss on both sides of the person’s cheek upon a verbal greeting.
  • In more formal settings (i.e. between business partners or between strangers), handshakes supplement a formal greeting.

Below you will find a list of the most common introductory questions to use in various social contexts.

French ExpressionTranslationContext
Comment allez-vous ?How are you?More formal and polite expression and/or asking to a group of people
Comment ça va / Ça va ?How are you?Informal, casual
Ça va bien/malI’m doing well/unwellEither context
Comment t’appelles-tu ?What’s your name?Informal, casual
Comment vous appelez-vous?What’s your name?Formal and/or plural
Je m’appelleMy name isEither context
EnchantéIt’s nice to meet youEither context

Other important French expressions for conversations:

French ExpressionTranslation
OuiYes
NonNo
MerciThank you
De rienYou’re welcome

Highlighted Author:

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.