What are some French greetings and farewells

Everything about French greetings

When learning a language, it is important to understand how to greet and address people correctly without offending or hurting them. This is especially true if you know the language a little better and have to conduct conversations or correspondence in a professional environment, for example at work.

French greetings

In the French language, greetings and salutations can create a lot of confusion because there are so many variations, each with situations where they may or may not be appropriate. But if you break them down into manageable blocks, it is possible to learn them relatively quickly so that you can master them.

Hello and goodbye

Chances are, “Bonjour” and “Au revoir” were the first two French greetings you learned, and with good reason. They can be used in almost any situation and viewed as both formal and casual. But there may also be moments when you want to change something or you have to say something different.

The following terms can all serve as potential substitutes for “Bonjour”:

Bonsoir (good evening / good night) - This is almost a direct replacement for “Bonjour” as it can be used both formally and informally. However, it should not be used until later in the day.

Allô? (Hello?) - This is the equivalent greeting to “Hello?” When answering the phone. It is almost never used in face-to-face communication. Basically, you listen to whether someone is on the other end of the line.

Salute! (Hi!) - A far more casual way of saying "hello"; It is best used on people you see often, such as good friends, family members, or work colleagues of a similar class.

Ça va? (How are you?) - Another informal greeting that should only be reserved for close friends or people with whom you are equal. Since this asks how the other person is feeling, it is likely that you will get longer and more detailed feedback than a simple "hello".

The following expressions, however, are all potential replacements for “Au revoir”:

Bonne journée (Hello) - This might seem confusing as “Hello” is usually a greeting, but “Bonne journée” can be used as the equivalent of “Have a nice day!” be considered.

Bonne soirée (good evening) - As you probably already suspect, this corresponds to the above expression, but is used in the evening. A variant of this would be “bonne nuit”, which means “good night” but is only used when a person is going to bed.

Salute! (Bye!) - And it remains confusing, because: If “Salut!” is used at the end of a conversation, it no longer says “Hi!” but is the equivalent of “Bye”. Again, this word is quite casual and is best left to people who know you well or see you often.

À tout à l’heure! (See you later!) - If you want to say goodbye to someone briefly but expect to see him or her again later that day, this is the perfect goodbye.

The way you greet a coworker or friend may be different from the way you greet someone you are interviewing with. If you can properly learn when to use these expressions appropriately, your French will immediately sound much more honed and you will be able to adapt to different situations more freely.

The beginning of a letter

Greeting someone face-to-face is one thing, but when you're writing a letter, you should use very different forms of salutation and salutation. This is especially true in a professional environment or when you are writing an official letter or email to an important person for whom a simple "hello" is not enough.

The two main forms of address you will need are “Monsieur” and “Madame”, which are used when addressing a man or a woman Person, you should attach them (e.g. Monsieur Max Mustermann, Madame Martina Musterfrau, and so on.)

If you are not sure who exactly you are writing to, it is best to start with “Madame, Monsieur” (Dear Sir or Madam). This is a standard introduction and is used regardless of whether the recipient turns out to be female or male.

So here are typical, formal salutations in letters:

Monsieur (Dear Sir) - General form of address when writing to a man.

Madame (Dear Madam) - General form of address when writing to a woman.

Madame, Monsieur (Dear Sir or Madam) - General salutation if the recipient's gender is not known.

Monsieur le Directeur (Dear Managing Director) - Used when writing to the head of a company or the head of an organization.

But maybe you are also writing to someone who is much closer to you, such as a friend or family member, and the letter or email should therefore not be formal at all. In such situations, you can use the following casual salutations instead:

Cher Jonas (Dear Jonas) - More informal address when you and a male address each other by first name.

Chère Janina (Dear Janina) - More informal address when you and a female address each other by first name.

Salut Jonas! (Hi Jonas!) - More informal, used when talking to friends or family.

Bonjour à tous! (Hello everyone!) - Casual, used when you're writing to more than one person.

Coucou! (Around: Hello!) - Very informal, used between friends.

Recoucou! (Hi again!) - Very informal, used when messages have already been exchanged.

Most importantly, when deciding which of these greetings to use, you determine what level of formality is appropriate. If you're not sure, use the more formal form of address and then use the way they answer you as a guide. It is very unlikely that someone would feel offended if you are too formal at first.

French greetings for ending a letter

Very few things can be as confusing as saying goodbye to an email or letter. Many of the typical greetings in French, especially goodbyes, are long and irritate even native speakers. However, it is imperative that you learn how to end a letter, as using a false closure can make you look unprofessional or even annoy the recipient.

Below we offer you examples of some formal letter and email endings:

Veuillez recevoir, [roughly: Dear Madam or Sir], mes salutations distinguées (roughly: Yours sincerely) - This is a general, informal goodbye that is acceptable in most situations.

Je vous prie d’agréer, [roughly: Dear Madam or Sir], l’expression de mes sentiments respectueux (roughly: with best regards) - As above, but used when writing to someone in a position higher than yours.

Veuillez agréer, [roughly: Dear Madam or Sir], l’assurance de notre parfaite considération (roughly: Yours sincerely) - The equivalent of the above if you are writing to someone in a position lower than yours.

Je vous prie de croire, [roughly: Dear Madam or Sir], à l’assurance de mes salutations distinguées (roughly: Sincerely) - Another variation is needed when you are writing to a very important person.

Cordialement (best regards) - Represents a kind of bridge between formal and informal, is especially popular in emails, especially in a professional environment.

Merci d’avance (Thank you in advance) - This is a good ending for your letter when it is informal and you have a question or need help with something. In extremely formal letters, however, you'd better avoid this ending as it is a bit presumptuous and assumes that your request will be honored.

Of course, a formal goodbye is not always required, and when writing to someone you know well and who is not part of your work environment, you may choose to use one of the following casual endings:

Amicalement (love greetings) - Usually used between friends.

Affectueusement (In love) - Used when writing to family members or close friends.

Gros bisous (many kisses) - Very casual, used on people you are very close to.

Bisous (kisses) - Extremely casual, usually used in emails or text messages between very close friends. It's more of a humorous nature, similar to HDGDL (I love you very much) in German

Nothing can go wrong with these French greetings, so à vos crayon, prêts, écrivez!