Greetings in French : a start for interacting with French people

Knowing greetings in French is essential to begin interacting with native speakers. We know that in order to communicate better, it is good to know how to introduce yourself to your new acquaintances as if you were a native speaker. That’s why we decided to leave you with an easy guide to greet you, interact and say goodbye without any problems.

In France, manners and basic rules of courtesy are of great importance. It will be very rare for you to pass by someone’s side without greeting them. It will never be too much to say “bonjour” or “bonsoir”, so do not be afraid to say hello.

Before getting into content, it is good to tell you that the great importance of speaking the language accordingly lies in knowing how to communicate in the right way. When we are in the process of learning, we must know that French is divided between formal and familiar language. There are different words and even basic rules that differentiate each style. In general, we use formal language to address people we do not know, elderly people, or in the work environment, and one of the biggest differences lies in the use of “vous”. On the other hand, we use “tu” in the informal language which is to communicate with close people, friends or family.

Discover the greetings in French

1. Greeting

Greetings in French

As we mentioned at the beginning, a greeting is of great importance in France. If you go down the street , if you get on the bus, or enter a bakery, and you meet someone you see on a regular basis the most normal thing is to say “bonjour”, even if you don’t really know the person. If you want to be more formal, just add a title to each person or, on the contrary, if you already have confidence, the first thing that will come to your mind will be “salut”.

2. Interacting

Break the ice and start talking can be a challenge when you’re in a new place, more if you’re speaking a different language. So, a couple of phrases to start a conversation are never too much on our list. Remember that, when you talk to another person, differentiating whether you are speaking in a formal or informal tone, will be mainly given by the use of “vous” or “tu”.

Prendre contact

3. Saying goodbye

Greetings in French

Although “au revoir” is the most common word known worldwide to say goodbye in French, there are a few phrases that can make you sound like a local when you leave a place. They are used depending on the moment and the context.

#1 we use them to wish a good day or to say “I hope your day goes very well”.

#2 when we say goodbye but we’ll see each other again sometime during the day, we use the phrases of the second group. We use “À tout de suite” if we’ll see each other in a short time, usually in less than an hour; if we meet again in more than one hour we can use “à tout à l’heure”; and if it will be a long time, we better say goodbye with “à plus tard”.

#3 if we are not sure when we will see each other again, we use some of the phrases from the third group.

#4 we are sure of when we will meet again, that‘s why we specify at the end of the sentence the day or precise moment of meeting.

To accompany the words, there are the gestures!

Greeting each other in France is a little more complicated! Indeed, French people kiss each other (informal context) or shake hands (formal context).

But kissing in France is an art!!! Who to kiss? How many kisses to kiss? Which cheek to start with? It differs from region to region!
Find out more in this video “L’art de la bise” from the Karambolage program broadcast on Arte.

Greetings in French

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