Lesson | Quiz
Learning to greet people is an essential part of learning a new language. Whether you're planning to continue learning French or just learn a few basics in preparation for a trip, these French greetings can help you on your way. Click the links to hear the word or phrase pronounced in French.
The basic French greeting is bonjour, which can mean hello, good morning, or good afternoon. When greeting someone in the evening (beginning around 6pm), say bonsoir.
To greet someone informally at any time of day, you can say salut, meaning hi.
French greeting tips
You should always greet people by saying one of the above. In some countries, it's acceptable to greet a salesclerk, for example, with just a smile, but not in France - always start out with a polite bonjour. Even when entering a waiting room or boarding a bus, the French will mutter bonjour as a general greeting to everyone within earshot.
In addition, if you know the person or are being introduced, you're also expected to either faire la bise (kiss cheeks) or se serrer la main (shake hands). When arriving at work or school, this means you should go around the room and individually greet each person.
Don't ever greet people by saying "bon matin" or "bon après-midi" - the first is incorrect and the second can only be used as a good-bye - read more.
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