See, hear and learn the 3 most common ways to say how are you in French: comment-allez vous, comment vas-tu and (comment) ça va?
When my niece who learned how to speak French taking French classes saw me this new year, she greeted me with : ‘comment-allez vous?’ in order to ask me how are you in French. Quite impressive for the following reason:
Comment-allez vous is the most formal and polite way to ask somebody how are you in French. When you are amongst friends, you would use the more informal or casual way to say how are you: comment vas-tu?
Comment means "how" in French.
Allez-vous and vas-tu are 2 ways to say "go you" in French: the first way is the formal and utterly polite way, the latter is the one you will use amongst your friends or who-ever you feel related to on a similar level (colleagues at work, your brothers and sisters…).
Then there is the third way to say how are you in French that you will hear a lot: (comment) ça va? , translated from French to English as : "it goes"? If you only want to remember one way of saying how are you in French, then remember ça va:
as you can both use it in formal and informal conversation – be it more informal than formal – and
it’s a perfect way to say "that all goes well".
However if you want to impress people with your politeness, then repeat what my niece said: comment allez-vous? You can’t go wrong with this way of saying how are you in French. And when the French person feels that you are ‘allowed’ to use the more casual way of saying how are you in French, he will answer your question with comment vas-tu.
Enjoy speaking French greetings in less than 10 minutes! Download this free French language CD snippet. Listen and repeat the French words to learn how to speak French fast: about 10 minutes from now you will be able to fluently pronounce and remember all common French greetings!
Common French greetings
Did you ever tell yourself: "I want to learn French but I don’t have any time to enroll in a French course"?
The good news is that you can speak French or learn any language for that matter at home. Better still, thanks to French language CDs you can learn French anytime, anywhere.
These French language CDs will make you learn French easily, just like you learned your mother language: by listening and repeating.
Download these French Greetings (782KB – Learn French mp3) as an example. You will not only hear the French greetings, but you will be asked to repeat them. After you finished listening and repeating the French words, you will be surprised how fast they are embedded in your memory already.
Learn French greetings
Download and listen to the French Greetings anywhere you can: in your car, going to your office or in the shower and make sure you repeat the French words out loud!
This way you will learn French greetings without any effort as you can rewind the audio over and over again.
Greetings in French:
Paul: Salut Claire.
Claire: Salut, Paul. Comment ça va?
Paul: Bien merci, et toi?
Claire: Je vais très bien.
French language translation to English:
Paul: Hi Claire.
Claire: Hi Paul. How’s it going?
Paul: Good thanks, and you?
Claire: I’m going very well. (I am very fine)
French Christmas greetings
"Joyeux Noël" are the French greeting words you will hear around Christmas. Listen to the French pronunciation at : French Christmas Greetings.
How to greet people in French
You can have a look in our previous post how to greet someone in French: it does involve kissing… French greetings and salutations do differ depending on where you are in France:
most greeting in French is accompanied by one kiss on the left cheek and one on the right
in the south of France, the French greet by kissing once on the right once on the left
in Paris you could get double as much kisses: right, left right left
and in the west of France people will only give one kiss.
When you are new in France, you simply don’t join in the kissing and stick to the French greeting phrases you learned in the audio of this page.
When you don’t know when to use formal French greetings, informal greetings or French business greetings you have 2 options:
always use Bonjour: as that’s both a formal as informal greeting, or:
simply repeat the French language greetings you heard when the French person greeted you.
Simply repeating what you hear is the most simple and always accurate way to greet people in France!
Learning French greetings with French language CDs
Today you have learned not only the most common French greetings, you also learned that you can learn French fast by just listening to French language CDs.
Look and listen how in the video French friends say hello how are you in French:
Hello, how are you : Salut, ça va?
"Fine" : Ça va.
Listen and look for the basics in any conversation
There are 2 ways learning how to speak French:
learn to speak French only using your memory to learn French words and phrases
learn to speak French using your whole body: your eyes, ears, imagination and gut feeling!
Even when you don’t understand any French words, or you switch off the volume of the above French video:
your gut feeling tells you that these French people are greeting each other
your imagination tells you that they are most likely asking how are you, and you, and what do we do next?
When you want to learn French fast: your imagination is your best friend. Both when it comes to learning French online, offline and especially when you follow French language courses in France:
although languages use different words,
people do communicate the same things over and over!
In most situations:
you will be able to imagine and guess what the other person is saying, and
your guessing will improve once you learn to recognise some basic French words.
Look back at the French greetings video above. Knowing that ça va literary means: it goes, try to figure out what the girl called Charlotte at the end is saying to the guys?
without understanding any words, you see that they are all leaving together…
when you did understand the girl saying "On y va?", you recognized the word va, which means ‘go’
so what do you guess she said? Right, Charlotte said: "Let’s go!".
Better than French language courses in France
Yabla French provides a great way to practice your guessing and listening skills.
In stead of following French language courses in France where people speak and speak and speak, Yabla French offers you French videos from native French people with a "guess the missing word game"
All you need to do is look at the French video, listen to the French words and guess the missing French word. It’s a great way to improve your guessing skills and trust me: no other French course will teach you the importance of guessing.
Before reading the French words below, your best way to learn the French language is watch the French video again and guess what they are trying to say.
Improving your guessing skills by watching peoples body language increases understanding the French words for 90%!
Salut! Ça va? (Hi! It goes?, meaning ‘How are you?’)
Ça va. Et toi? (It goes, meaning: ‘fine’. And you)
Ça va. (I’m fine)
Ça va. Et toi?
Salut Charlotte!Ça va?
Ça va bien et toi? (I’m very well and you?, bien means well)
Très bien… (very well, très means very) Salut Miloud …Ça va?
Ça va. Et toi?
Très bien. On y va? (Shall we go?, literary translated: one there go?)
If you want to remember anything from today’s French lesson is that you need to improve your imagination and guessing skill in order to learn French quick. You will learn how to speak French much quicker than when you only would rely on reading words in French language courses.
Again, people all over the world want to express the same things but do it in different ways.
In Rome, do what the Romans do. In France, do what the French do. When it comes to French greetings, the French tend to kiss each other twice (one left, one right). If you don’t want to ruin a French girl’s make-up, do kiss the air left and right!
La bise, translated to ‘the kiss’, is the usual way French friends greet each other. When you visit France and get to know French people better, they could ask: on se fait la bise? Shall we kiss?
Again, listen for the basic word "bise", and you will know what they are trying to say or do 🙂
If you are not fond about giving and receiving kisses, you can equally well shake hands in France. Just be prepared for la bise when you decide to study French in France :-).
French greeting tips
The easiest way to greet anybody in France is starting out with a simple ‘Bonjour‘ which translates to "GoodDay" (listen to the French audio for Bonjour at our previous online French course: How to say hello in French)
Even when entering a waiting room or boarding a bus, the French will mutter bonjour as a general greeting to everyone within earshot.
How are you in French summarized
I can hear you saying: ‘eh, we hardly didn’t learn any new French words nor French phrases today’. (did you notice you learned the very useful French phrases for ‘very good’, ‘let’s go’ and OK – have a look again at the video!)
In this second of our French language lessons I wanted to emphasize that there is more to learning French than memorizing words out of a French course book:
look and listen to the French person
try to understand basic French words
imagine what he or she wants from you or tries to say to you
answer accordingly when you learn more French words and French phrases in our next course
The only mistakes when speaking and learning French are: closing your ears, mouth and imagination! Other than that: communicate in any way possible!