Written by:
Aug 17, 2020

How to Say Hello in French: 12 French Greetings

Thinking about learning French? Get started by learning one of the first words you’ll need to know--”hello”. In this article you’ll learn how to say this as well as several other French greetings so you can get conversations rolling with native French speakers and make a good impression.

Ready to learn how to say “hello” in French? Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll learn:

  • Bonjour - the most common way to say “hello” in French
  • If you don’t say bonjour when entering a shop or café, you might be thought of as rude
  • When greeting one another in France, you faire la bise

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How to say hello in French

#1 Bonjour - “Hello” in French

The most common way to say “hello” in French literally translates as “good day”. You’ll hear this French greeting everywhere -- as you enter shops, greet acquaintances, and even in Disney’s well-known film “Beauty and the Beast”. 

It’s polite and used in both formal and informal situations. And if you’re speaking to a large group of people, you can use bonjour à tous (“hello everyone”).

And with a slight modification, you can turn bonjour into a goodbye. It’s bonne journée and it’s an expression you can use someone a good day as you part ways. 

#2 Salut - “Hi” in French

To say “hi” in French, you use salut. It’s usually only used in less formal settings. So while it’s perfectly fine to use it with friends or family, you might not want to use it as your greeting of choice at a job interview. 

Salut can also be used to say “goodbye” in French.

#3 Bon matin - “Good morning” in French

You can greet someone with “good morning” in French. It’s bon matin. As you may have guessed, given that bonjour means “good day” and bon matin means “good morning”, that bon means “good”. 

Like bonjour, bon matin has a partner expression that can be used to say goodbye. It’s bonne matinée, meaning “have a good morning”.

#4 Bonsoir - “Good evening” in French

“Good evening” in French is bonsoir

When do you switch from bonjour to bonsoir? Around the end of the workday is when it’s generally acceptable to stop using bonjour and begin using bonsoir

Bonne soirée is what you can use to say goodbye and tell someone to have a good evening. 

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#5 (Comment) ça va ? - “How are you?” in French

You can use this phrase to greet someone and ask how they are. Comment ça va ? or simply Ça va ? are common expressions and ways to ask someone how they’re doing. 

#6 Coucou - “Hey” in French

This expression doesn’t have an exact translation in English and it’s use is pretty unique. It’s often used when greeting children, but females may also use it amongst friends, and family may use it with other family members. 

It’s also a common greeting in written communication, though only in informal settings. 

#7 Quoi de neuf ? - “What’s new?” in French

Ask someone “what’s new?” in French with this expression. At first glance, it may look like this question translates as “what of nine?” but it’s used to ask “what’s up?” or “what’s new?”

#8 Allô ? - “Hello” on the phone in French

Greeting someone on the phone? Use this word to say hello! Âllo is usually said with a rising tone as if to ask “are you there?” 

#9 Ça roule ? - “How’s it going?” in French

This is a fun French expression you can use as a greeting. Literally, it means “it rolls?” but you use it to ask someone how it’s going.

#10 Enchanté(e) - “Nice to meet you” in French

You’re at a party and your French friend waves you over to come meet some other people. They share who you are with their friends and to greet them, you say “enchanté”, or if you’re female, enchantée. It’s a great greeting to use when you’re meeting someone for the first time. You can use it with bonjour, too. 

#11 Bienvenue - “Welcome” in French

If you invite your French friends or co-workers over to your place for dinner one night, you might greet them with bienvenue as you welcome them into your home. 

#12 Rebonjour - “Hello again” in French

Run into a co-worker in the cafeteria after already greeting them that day? You probably wouldn’t say bonjour again which is why French has this useful greeting. Rebonjour is like saying “hello again” and is a fantastic option when you run into someone a second time during the day. 

Choosing the Best Way to Say “hello” in French

Greetings are very important in French culture. If you’re entering a shop, meeting co-workers, or catching up with family, some form of greeting will be a leading part of the conversation. Even just starting with bonjour shows your knowledge of French culture and your desire to connect with French speakers.

Worried you’ll pick the wrong way to say “hello” in French? Don’t let these XX ways of saying “hi” overwhelm you! Depending on the context and formality of the situation, certain greetings will be more appropriate than others. 

With friends and family, salut or coucou are likely the way to go. But in more formal situations, like work, school, or when talking to strangers, you may prefer to us bonjour may be the better option. 

How to Say Hello in French -- Faire la bise

Greetings aren’t always just words. In some places, it’s a handshake. In others, it’s a hug. When greeting someone in France, you’ll likely be expected to faire la bise. This is a gesture upon both meeting and parting ways where you kiss someone on the cheek (or cheeks). Depending on where you are in France, you may kiss each cheek once, kiss three times, or even four! 

Sometimes la bise is only done between two women or a women and a man, but other times and in other places, male acquaintances may also faire la bise

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