Utter French!


French Phrases: Basic Greetings

Even if you do not really speak French, it is worth knowing at least the following simple French words and phrases such as the French for "hello", "goodbye" etc. This page lists a few basic French greetings, along with their pronunciations. Although many French speakers will know the English equivalents of these basic words and phrases, they will still appreciate the effort if you take the trouble to learn simple words such as these basic salutations.

The French greetings below are organised into various lists. To hear the pronunciation of the French greetings in each list, click or tap the 'speaker' icon.

Very basic greetings

Firstly, even if you "don't speak French", you may well have heard some of the following already.

bonjour!bõʒuʁhello!, good morning!
bonsoir!bõswaʁhello!, good evening!
s'il vous plaîtsi(l)vupleplease (formal version)*
s'il te plaîtsi(l)təplɛplease (informal version)*
pardon!paʁdõexcuse me!, sorry!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

* The formal versions are used roughly to where you're not on first name terms with a person, whereas the informal versions would be used in cases where you are on first name terms (e.g. friends and family, colleagues of a similar rank). The situation is a little more complex than this: for more information, see the section on when to use tu and vous.

Introducing yourself in French

The following are also useful for introducing yourself in French:

je m'appelle...ʒmapɛlI'm called..., my name is...
comment vous appelez-vous?kɔmɑ̃vuzaplevuwhat are you called? (formal)
comment tu t'appelles?kɔmɑ̃tytapɛlwhat's your name? (informal)
(comment) ça va?(kɔmɑ̃) sa vahow's it going?
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

A question that sometimes arises among learners is "how do you say 'Pleased to meet you' in French?" Well, the possibly surprising answer is that often, French people meeting for the first time will simply say Bonjour!. The following are also possible:

je suis très heureux de faire votre connaissance-(I'm) pleased to meet you!
très heureux!-pleasure!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

Note that female speakers would say heureuse:

je suis très heureuse de faire votre connaissance-(I'm) pleased to meet you!
très heureuse!-pleasure!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

An interesting point raised by Natalie Schorr (2004), Tune Up Your French is that some speakers may find the simple "heureux"/"heureuse" a little abrupt, and that in practice, you may be better off simply saying Bonjour...!

Being polite in French

Here are some basic expressions of courtesy:

merci!mɛʁsithank you!
de riendə ʁjæ̃not at all!, no problem!, you're welcome!, sure! (US)
je vous en prieʒvuz ɑ̃ pʁiyou're welcome (formal)
excusez-moi!ɛkskyze mwaexcuse me, can I get past
je suis désoléjə sɥi dezole(I'm) sorry
pardon?paʁdõexcuse me?, sorry?
vous permettez?vu pɛʁmɛtemay I?, do you mind?
après vous!apʁe vuafter you!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

Saying goodbye in French

As in English, there are various ways to say goodbye in French. The following are commonly used:

au revoir!ɔʁvwaʁbye!
à plus tard!a ply taʁsee you later!
à tout à l'heurea tu ta lœʁsee you soon!, see you in a while!
à bientôt!a bjæ̃tosee you soon!
à tout de suite!a tut sɥitsee you in a second!, see you in a little while!
à demain!a dəmæ̃see you tomorrow!
à plus! (Informal)a plysTTFN!, laters!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

In informal e-mails and SMS messages, it's common to write A+ instead of à plus.

The following are used to 'wish somebody well'. Note that it's quite a common formula in French to use the adjective bon(ne) plus a noun to mean enjoy your ..., good luck with the .... Here are some common examples, but you may come across others:

bonne journée!bɔn ʒuʁnehave a good day!
bonne soirée!bɔn swaʁehave a good evening!
bon courage!bõ kuʁaʒgood luck! (="keep at it!", "be persistent!")
bonne chance!bɔn ʃɑ̃sgood luck! (used when there is actual luck involved)
bonne route!bɔn ʁuthave a good journey!, safe journey!
bonnes vacancesbɔn vakɑ̃senjoy your holiday!
bon voyagebõ vwajaʒhave a good trip!
bon appétit!bɔn apetienjoy your meal!
bon ap! (Informal)bɔnapenjoy your meal!
santé!sɑ̃techeers!
Pronounce these words Pronounce these words
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

Seasonal greetings

As well as he phrases and greetings are above, the following are useful at specific times of the year:

1 This is the cover-all expression that implies Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.

If you're learning Spanish, you may also be interested in our sister site's page of Spanish greetings (with audio recordings).


comments powered by Disqus

Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.