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Ça va

French expressions analyzed and explained

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Ça va
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Expression: Ça va

Pronunciation: [sah vah]

Meaning: how's it going, how is/are ___; I'm fine, it's ok; that's enough

Literal translation: it goes

Register: informal

Notes: The French expression ça va is one of the most common in the entire language. It can be both question and answer, but it is informal, so you should try to avoid it when speaking with people you vouvoie.

Ça va can directly ask how someone is doing:

   Salut Guy, ça va ?
   Hi Guy, how's it going?

   Comment ça va ?
   How's it going?

(Related lesson: "How are you" in French)

Ça va can also be used with a subject or object. Note that it is invariable - no change for a plural subject:

   Ça va les filles ?
   How's it going, girls?

   Ça va le nouvel ordi ?
   How's the new computer working?

Ça va can also ask whether something that was just discussed is acceptable:

   On va partir vers midi, ça va ?
   We'll leave around noon, is that ok? Does that work for you?

You can answer any of the above as well as any similar questions with ça va:

   - Ça va, Marc ? - Ça va. / Oui, ça va.
   - How's it going, Marc? - Fine.

   - Tu vas bien, André ? - Ça va.
   - Are you ok, André? - Yes / I'm ok.

   - Il faut être prêt dans une heure, ça va ? - Ça va.
   - You have to be ready in an hour, ok? - OK.

Variations:

   ça va aller ? - will it be ok? will that work?
   ça va aller - it will be ok
   ça va bien ? - is it going well? are you doing well?
   ça va bien - it's going well, I'm doing well
   ça va mal - it's going badly, I'm not doing so well
   ça (ne) va pas - it's not going well, it's not ok

And ça va can also be an exclamation:

   Oh ! Ça va !
   Hey, that's enough!

Other uses

   Ça va plus an infinitive can mean simply "it will," as in ça va venir - it'll happen, it will come.

   Ça va plus an indirect object pronoun means "that looks good on ___" or "it suits ___": ça te va (bien) - that suits you, ça lui va bien - that looks good on him/her.


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