Attractive friendly looking young woman smiling happily, saying Hello, Hi or Bye, waving hand. Showing five fingers. Studio shot

“Hello” in French: 36 Essential Greetings

Are you tired of saying bonjour every time you greet someone in French? 

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re a French learner looking to speak more naturally with your French friends, or a business person looking to connect with associates, we’ve got you covered. With these 36 French greetings, you can ditch old bonjour when you feel like being more creative with your greeting.


“Hello” or “Hi” in French: The Basic Greetings

Bonjour — Hello / Good Day / Good Morning

This is undeniably the most used French greeting, and the most versatile. It works in any setting, formal and informal alike, from opening a business meeting to sitting down with a friend for a drink. It’s probably the first word that most French language beginners learn, and for good reason.

Beyond that, it’s a common courtesy to utter a little bonjour to the baker as you walk into the corner boulangerie (bakery) or to the waiter before you order a coffee on the terrace of a Parisian café. In fact, not using this greeting is considered impolite by many and may merit a disdainful glance.

Once the sun sets, you’ll want to replace this little pleasantry with bonsoir ! (Good evening!) All in all, using either bonjour or bonsoir is your best bet for first greeting someone, especially for those you don’t know well.

Bonsoir — Good evening

Similar to bonjour, this is a standard greeting every French language learner should know. The only difference is bonsoir is used in the evening, usually after six pm and after sunset. It’s the polite way to greet most people at this point in the day, the shopkeeper, the maître d’ (host/hostess) at a restaurant or hotel, someone you nearly run into on the street, or even a friend.

Bien le bonjour — Hello

This is a more traditional and slightly formal way of saying hello in French. It’s a polite and respectful greeting used especially when meeting someone for the first time or in more conservative settings. Bien le bonjour is often accompanied by a handshake and a friendly smile.

Salut ! — Hi!

This is a great greeting to use with anyone you see rather often or someone you know rather well, like a work colleague with similar standing as you, or a good friend. It’s an informal greeting, and should be used as such, so you may not want to salut your boss, a judge, a police officer or even an older person.

Note that the “t” on the end of the word is silent, thus following the general rule in French that if a final consonant is not followed by an “e” or other vowel, it isn’t pronounced.

Coucou ! — Hey there!

This is an extremely informal way of greeting someone, so reserve this one for close friends and family, otherwise you might get a few quizzical stares. As an added tidbit, the verb phrase faire coucou (à quelqu’un) means to wave at or say hey (to someone), and is also quite informal.

Interestingly, the verb phrase jouer à coucou means to play peekaboo, like a mother does with her baby. This highlights the rather playful and familiar tone behind this word.

How to Say “Hello, How Are You?” in French

Enchanté — Nice to meet you

Enchanté might just be the most magical way to greet someone in French. The direct translation means “enchanted” or “delighted.” The term is typically used when being introduced to someone for the first time. For example:

Frank: Salut Marcus ! C’est mon ami d’enfance, Will. (Hey Marcus! This is my childhood friend, Will.)

Marcus: Enchanté Will ! Je m’appelle Marcus. (Nice to meet you! I’m Marcus.)

It’s also technically an adjective and can be used to describe something or someone as enchanting. But as a greeting, it always stands alone.

Comment ça va ? — How are you?

This phrase is commonly used in casual, everyday conversations and is suitable for basically anyone. Just like in English, use this when greeting someone to ask how they’re doing.

Ça va ? — How are you?

This is probably the most commonly used greeting on this list and the most casual. Ça va is used more as a secondary greeting question to follow up an initial greeting such as salut or bonjour. So you would ask:  Salut, ça va? (Hi, how are you?) to a friend, close acquaintance, or colleague with whom you have a good relationship.

You shouldn’t use it when speaking with your boss or professor—unless they’ve given the okay to tutoyer (permission to use casual tu rather than the formal vous), or someone you’ve just met.

Ça va can also be used informally as a greeting without another one preceding it. In other words, it’s totally okay to ask a friend you’ve run into on the street Ça va ? to which they’ll likely reply Ça va as a statement rather than a question.

Note that the ç in Ça va is pronounced like an “s.” It’s a letter in French known as the cedilla.

Tu vas bien ? How are you?

Another variation of ça va this one can be used interchangeably and only in informal settings. The literal translation of tu vas bien is are you going good which sums it up pretty well. Other meanings include are you well and how have you been (if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the person you’re talking to.) 

For formal situations, use the conjugation for vous, vous allez bien ? Don’t forget the liaison between vous and allez which means you pronounce the “s” at the end of vous since allez begins with a vowel. And remember, the “s” is pronounced as more of a soft “z.”

Comment allez-vous ? How are you [formal]?

Comment allez-vous is the formal version of ça va and should be used in settings or with superiors or people you don’t know that well. For example, if you run into the VP of your department at the grocery store, it’s best to say  Bonjour, comment allez-vous ? (Hi, how are you?) rather than using bonjour ça va.

And remember, you pronounce the “t” at the end of comment since the next word, allez begins with a vowel.

Comment tu vas ?  — How are you?

This is the informal version of the previous greeting, with its formality level falling somewhere between comment allez-vous ? and ça va ? As such, it’s used with friends, family members or peers. It’s not for use with your boss!

Like in English, this phrase is asking how you’re doing as a greeting, and the speaker doesn’t generally actually want an honest answer. To respond to someone greeting you this way, you can respond with in a general way, like Je vais bien (I’m fine) or Ça va bien (It’s going well).

Comment se passe ta journée ?  — How’s your day going?

This greeting can be used any time of day and can be used in both informal and formal situations—just remember to change ta to votre when you’re being polite.

Comment ça se passe pour toi ?  — How are things going?

This greeting is also friendly and informal, and conveys more of a genuine interest in how someone is doing. You can ask how things are going to inquire about life in general, work or any other personal situations your friend or relative is facing.

This one’s especially useful if you know something’s been going on in someone’s life and you want to check in on them.

Quoi de neuf ? — What’s up?

This informal phrase literally means “what’s new?” and it’s an excellent greeting to use with a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, with the intent of starting a conversation about what’s been going on in your lives since you last met.

Ça roule ? — How’s it going?

This greeting is a very casual and colloquial way to say hey to your friends. The phrase literally means “Does it roll?” and you can respond with Oui, ça roule ! (Yes, everything’s going smoothly!)

More Common French Greetings

Bienvenue — Welcome

This is the term you’ll be greeted with when visiting someone’s house, office or really anywhere else that you’ve been invited to.

Bienvenue can also be used to welcome someone to a new place. You’ll often hear bienvenue en France (welcome to France) when a local learns you’re visiting their country for the first time.

Also, fun fact, bienvenue is composed of two separate words bien (well/good) and  venue (technically past tense of the verb “come”). So when put together, it literally combines to “well-come”!

Ravie de te rencontrer  — Delighted to meet you

This is the phrase you use when you’re meeting someone new. Note that it’s informal, so it’s better used among friends and acquaintancenes.

The formal version of this phrase is Ravie de vous rencontrer.

Ça fait longtemps, dis donc ! Long time no see!

A less frequently used phrase for greeting, this one’s reserved for when you see someone you haven’t seen for quite some time. So it’s not a daily occurrence, and you shouldn’t walk into the office and say this to your colleagues unless you’ve just returned from an extended vacation or time off for another reason.

You can also use the first part of the phrase, ça fait longtemps to refer to something you haven’t done in a while. For example: Allons skier, ça fait longtemps. (Let’s go skiing, it’s been a while.)

How to Answer the Phone in French

Allô ? — Hello?

While a cognate with English “hello,” this greeting isn’t used in the same way as English “hello” or even bonjour, so you can’t use it to greet people on the street.

This word is used mostly just to answer the phone. It can also be used to get the attention of someone who hasn’t heard you, the point being that it’s as though the person wasn’t there.

Allô, [Your Name] à l’appareil  — [Your Name] speaking

This phrase combines the greeting allo with a self-introduction. It’s a polite and pretty formal way to answer the phone, basically the same as in English. You’re more likely to hear and use it in professional situations.

Oui, bonjour — Yes, hello

If you’re looking for a phone greeting that’s fairly neutral in formality, this is the one for you. You’d use this to acknowledge the caller while maintaining a friendly tone.

Written Versions of “Hello” in French

Salutations distinguées — Distinguished greetings

This is a formal and polite way of saying hello in French, commonly used in written correspondence, particularly in business or official letters. If you use it anywhere else in writing, it’ll seem stuffy!

Salutations  — Greetings

Look familiar? This English-French cognate means exactly what it looks like, and is used as a respectful opening in written correspondence. You’ll generally only see it in business letters.

Cher / Chère — Dear

Follow these up with the name of the person you’re writing to, and you have the versatile letter heading of “Dear [Name],” an excellent choice for semi-formal occasions. Remember to use the correct form of the French word to avoid offense!

Cher Monsieur / Cher Madame — Dear Sir/Madam

If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing, opt for this written greeting! It’s polite and neutral, though it sounds more formal than using a person’s name. 

Bonjour à tous  — Hello to everyone

This one’s used to address a group of people in written correspondence. It is commonly used in emails, newsletters or announcements to greet and acknowledge a wider audience.

How to Say “Goodbye” in French

You’ve said hello and had a conversation. Now that it’s time to move on, here are some ways to say goodbye!

Resources for Learning About French Greetings

FluentU: Some of the French greetings above might sound familiar to you, but a lot of them—especially the more informal ones—will probably be new. If you’re looking for the fastest way to learn how to pronounce these greetings and use them like a real French speaker would, FluentU could be your best bet.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

FluentU Ad

JeFrench French Greetings: Very helpful slideshow video on French greetings for beginners.

French Greeting Dialogues at French Some quick dialogues with accompanying Youtube videos.


It’s au revoir (Goodbye) for now!

It’s never easy to say goodbye, but with all these options of how to greeting someone in French, it will be much easier to meet new friends in Paris or wherever you may be in the French speaking world. By the way, if you’re looking for different ways to say “goodbye” in French, we’ve got you covered.

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