Greetings in French Language

15 Greetings in French: How to Properly Meet & Greet Someone in France

Greetings in French Language

Bonjour! How much do you know about French greetings and salutations? Learning how to say “good morning” in French, along with other basic greetings, is usually the first task that aspiring French speakers take on.

Properly greeting someone can open up new connections as well as deepen existing ones. Pronouncing “Hello, how are you?” correctly in French may seem like a small feat, but it can have a big impact on your conversations with French speakers throughout the world.

Here are a few easy greetings in French, so you can make an excellent first impression!

15 French Greetings to Know

Just like with other Romantic languages, there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to greeting others in French. The greeting you use depends on your relationship with the other person, the time of day, and the social setting. Properly greeting people is polite, so knowing when to use each greeting is as critical as knowing the greeting itself.

After we cover the fundamental phrases you need to know, we’ll also look at some basics of French etiquette, including the dos and don’ts of greeting people with the language. 

To get a jump start on pronouncing some of the most common French greetings, check out this short video! Then, we’ll dive into greater detail below.

Greeting Phrases in French

1. Bonjour – Good morning / hello

Wondering how to say “good morning” in French? You can use bonjour to say either “good morning” or “hello” to someone when you’re seeing them for the first time of the day. If you encounter the same person again later in the day, it’s appropriate to use a less formal version of “hello.”

2. Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you

In a more formal setting, it’s polite to indicate that you’re delighted to meet someone after they introduce themselves, and this phrase is the perfect way to do so.

3. Bonsoir – Good evening / hello

This greeting is used in similar situations as bonjour but is reserved for the evening.

4. Salut – Hi

Considered one of the more casual French greetings, salut is appropriate when you see someone again later in the day.

5. Coucou – Hey

Close friends use this French greeting often. You can skip the formal bonjour and use this word, or even ciao, when seeing close comrades.

SEE ALSO: 50 Inspiring French Quotes

6. Ça fait longtemps, dis donc – Long time, no see

A typical greeting between old friends, young French people tend to use this phrase often.

7. Âllo – Hello

This French greeting is used exclusively for conversations on the telephone.

8. Ça va? – How are you?

A very simple way to ask someone how they are doing is to say Ça va? It’s a condensed version of the question Comment ça va? – How are you doing? Either version is correct and can be used in formal and casual settings.

9. Tu vas bien? – How are you doing?

Literally translated to “are you doing well?” this is a polite way to ask someone how they are when you’re expecting a positive reply.

10. Quoi de neuf? – What’s up?

This is a very casual French greeting, so we recommend using it only with close friends.

RELATED: 50 Beautiful French Words

Parting Phrases in French

Now that you know how to say hello in French, you need to learn how to properly part ways! Just like with greetings, these parting phrases can differ based on the context.

11. Au revoir! – Goodbye!

Rather formal, this is a safe way to say goodbye in French no matter the social setting.

12. Salut! – Bye!

This French word for “goodbye” is much more casual than au revoir.

13. Ciao! – See ya!

This phrase is Italian in origin, but is popular among the younger French population.

14. À plus! – Later!

This is one of those easy greetings in French and a simple way to indicate that you’ll see them at a later, unspecified time.

15. À demain! – See you tomorrow!

The word demain can be replaced with any day of the week if you know that you will see the other person soon.

Dos and Don’ts for French Greetings

The proper etiquette for greeting people in France relies on a few factors. While it’s expected and considered polite to greet everyone, from colleagues to shopkeepers, the way you greet each person depends on your relationship and the setting. For example:

  • Les bises (kisses) are a typical greeting when meeting friends in France.

Depending on the region of France, la bise can include one, two, or even three little kisses on the cheek. If in doubt, let the other person initiate and move to one side of your face or the other. The kisses generally begin on the right side of the face.

  • A handshake is a greeting that is reserved for formal or business settings.

When entering a meeting for work, it’s normal for colleagues to offer a firm handshake. It’s also common for men to greet with a handshake rather than with une bise.

  • A hug, contrary to American greetings, is reserved for close family members or significant others only. Wondering how to say “family” in French? It’s une famille.

A hug is seen as an invasion of privacy to the French, and can make someone feel uncomfortable if you don’t know them well enough. Save your hugs for your close friends!

Learn More French Greetings & Phrases

An appropriate greeting is just the beginning of a beautiful conversation in French. These guides can provide you with the phrases you need to carry your conversations further:

Want to learn even more French? Your options are endless with TakeLessons! To start, try working one-on-one with a French tutor near you. If you want even greater levels of flexibility, online French classes make it possible to work with a French teacher anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your own home.

No matter what your goals are when it comes to learning French, we wish you the best on your linguistic journey. Au revoir!

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL. She has her Bachelors in French, French Literature, and Psychology from Florida State University and has been teaching since 2008. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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