Top 10 French greetings and polite phrases you should know

French Greetings and polite words

French culture has always been known for its politeness and elegance. People in France are well known for their respect for one another and the basic manners they show upon meeting someone. So, if you meet a French person, you must also show the etiquette the native speakers follow and usage of common French greetings goes a long way into it. 

How well do you know about French greetings and phrases? What are the basic French words to learn? Discover French expressions for everyday life through this blog post, from hello to thank you! Learn the French equivalent of common English expressions, learn what to say when visiting French friends, traveling, at work, etc. Discover the right way to address someone, learn formal and informal forms of address, and other French expressions. It would help you apprehend the French people and how they act around and facilitate good communication with them. 

French greetings and polite phrases

Communication is the best way to build a bond among people. Greeting someone can deepen the bond and help you begin a new connection with them. Here are some of the most useful French greetings and phrases for everyday use.

Bonjour – “Hello”

Curious to know what to say “hello” in French? “Bonjour” is the word used as the initial greeting to start a conversation. It is also used to say Good morning,  hence you can use “Bonjour” as the initial greeting to speak to someone if you are seeing them for the first time or in the morning.  Bonsoir” is the French term for evening hours, meaning “Good evening.”

Missing out on using simple greeting phrases is usually considered a lack of common courtesy in the French language and hence make sure to be part of the social setting by knowing these most common phrases!

Enchanté(e) – “Nice to meet you”

Once you are done with a conversation, it is always good to end with a parting greeting and just like everywhere else, people will feel happy if you said something that conveys that you are pleased meeting and talking to them, especially the French! “Enchanté(e)”  is the term to be used which means, “Nice to meet you”. Make sure to frequently use them, be it during travel, meeting a peer during your studies abroad, or even writing an email to improve your cognitive skills, to make your conversation more meaningful.

Comment vous appelez-vous? / Comment t’appelles-tu? – “What’s your name?”

It is a basic human nature to ask someone their name when meeting them for the first time. How will you ask someone their name in French? Well, “Comment t’appelles-tu?” is the informal way to ask names in French and formally as “Comment vous appelez-vous?” , meaning “what is your name?”. You can also ask the name of a person as “c’est quoi ton nom?” which also means “what is your name?” . If someone asks you these in-return, you can give the answer as “Je suis ” followed by your name, meaning “I am (Name).”

Comment allez-vous?–“How are you?”

We all love to hear someone enquiring about us. A feeling of warmth and pleasure brings a belief that we are not alone and we always expect a positive reply. How do you ask “How are you” in French? “Comment allez-vous?” is one way,  also, as an informal greeting, native speakers use “ça va?” to ask, “How are you?” which is a condensed form of “Comment ça va,?”, that also means “How are you?”. To respond to “ça va?”, “ça va bien” can be used, which means “it’s going well.”


Yes or No are the two basic words we should learn in any language. 

 “Yes” is “oui” and “No” is “non” in French. These two French phrases are used in any situation, both formal and informal conversations, as both are natural expressions. To add more politeness while speaking, addressing the other person as “madame/monsieur” (madam/sir) can also be done, like “oui madame” (yes madam) or “non monsieur” (no sir).

English speakers use phrases like “yeah” or “yep”  to make the conversation more informal, likewise, in French, using “ouais” or “ouaip” (meaning Yeah) instead of “oui” is common in friendly talks.  nan”  is the common phrase used in French as against “non,” meaning similar to “nope” in English.

S’il vous plaît / s’il te plaît–“Please”

Please, is one of the best words used to show your politeness to someone. Saying “please” brings the idea that you respect the second person in the conversation. French “Please” involves formal and informal ways. When you say Please to a stranger in French, you can use “S’il vous plaît.” It is plural and can be used when you are in the middle of a group of people.

When dealing with family or close people, “s’il te plaît” is used to say “Please”. It is more of an informal term and used as a singular phrase. Using “please” during conversations is a great way to impress people and make the conversation more polite.

Excusez-moi – “Excuse me”

Well, that was self-explaining in itself! “Excusez-moi” as a French Greetings can be used in many situations to make the talk more polite, be it to help people notice each other, to gain someone’s attention, apologize for a mistake, or to exit back.

When you meet a stranger and want to have a word with him, you can begin with “Excusez-moi ‘ (Excuse me). It is also a rational way to ask someone to get out of your way, like on a crowded bus or train, as an example,  “Excuse me, give me some way”, in English  can be said as “excusez-moi, donnez-moi un moyen” n French.

Au revoir! – “Goodbye!”

Whether the conversation is formal or informal, it is good to say “au revoir” meaning “Goodbye”  when you finish and leave a conversation.  If you are leaving after  work, you can say something  like “au revoir à demain” which means “Good bye, see you tomorrow”. In French etiquette, people follow the custom of saying Goodbye even when leaving around family or friends together with a hug or hand shakes.

Merci beaucoup–“Thanks a lot”

 “Merci” is the French term for “Thanks.” , to make it more powerful, use “Merci beaucoup” meaning “Thanks a lot.” Never forget to say “Merci beaucoup” when someone does a favor for you. It is the best way to show gratitude, and French people are more particular in such acts,  it would give them a feeling that you are one among them.

Les bises -“Kisses.”

How about a gesture instead of a word as the last in our list of 10 French greetings? It is a habit for French people to kiss on the cheek (once, twice, or three times) when seeing each other.  It is a tradition followed, and a gesture used to say goodbye. But kissing is a more informal practice, you only kiss the person you know the most, like close relatives and friends, colleagues at the office with whom we have a strong bond. In formal situations, we usually do a handshake.

Thus, greeting people by exchanging kisses is the most friendly way to show your love and affection to someone in French. And the French for kisses? It is “Les bises”

First impressions on how you respect a language and culture are significant in any country. If you are planning a visit to France, even for a short time, make sure you know the basics of French. Take our “French Crash Course” or “French for Travel Course” if time is of essence or consider enrolling for a complete French Classes. 








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