How to Say Hello in French

Three Methods:Cheat SheetBasic "Hello"Time-Based Greetings

While “bonjour” is the most common French greeting, there are actually several ways you can say “hello” to someone in French. Here are some of the best ones to know.

Cheat Sheet

Sample Ways to Say Hello in French

Method 1
Basic "Hello"

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    Say "Bonjour" in any setting. This term is the standard, textbook translation of “hello” and can be used in both formal and casual settings.
    • Bonjour is a combination of the term "bon," meaning "good," and "jour," meaning day. The literal translation is "good day."
    • The term is pronounced bon-zhoor.[1]
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    Use "Salut" in less formal situations. Rather than “hello,” this term would be better translated as “hi” or “hullo.”
    • Even though salut is an interjection used to greet people, it is related to the French verb "saluer," meaning "to greet" or "to salute." The literal translation of salut is "cheers or bye" and it is used for rather informal situations.
    • The term is pronounced without the ending “t,” so it sounds like sah-loo.
    • "Salut" can take the meaning of "goodbye" as well. Therefore, salut can be used in the beginning and in the end of conversations.
    • Another informal greeting using this term would be “Salut tout le monde!” Roughly translated, it means “Hello, everybody!” The term "tout" means "all" and "le monde" means "the world." This greeting would only be used amongst a group of close friends.[2]
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    State "Hé" or "Tiens" in casual settings, too. Both terms are not as standard or formal as bonjour, but they are used to say “hello” in settings that are not especially formal.
    • is best translated as the English "hey." The term is pronounced similarly, with the ésounding close to the English ei.
    • Another informal greeting used amongst friends is "Hé là!" This translates into "Hey there!"
    • As an interjection, tiens! is essentially a surprised "hello!" The "ie" in the word is nasalized and pronounced like the English "y," so the word sounds like t-y-ns.[3]
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    Answer the phone with "Allô." This greeting is the one that sounds most similar to the English “hello,” and it is commonly used to greet someone on the telephone.
    • The term is pronounced ah-low, with a heavy accent on the second syllable.
    • You could could also ask, "âllo?" Used this way, the accent is on the first syllable. This expression would be used if you wanted to ask something along the lines of "Hello? Are you listening?"[4]
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    Use "bienvenue" to welcome someone.[5] If someone visits your home or office, you could welcome them with this phrase which loosely translates into “Welcome!”
    • A more literal translation of the term would be "well arrival." Bien means "well," and venue is a noun meaning arrival.
    • The term is roughly pronounce bea-venoo.
    • Another way to extend your welcome to someone would be to say "être le bienvenu." The term "être" is a verb meaning "to be."

Method 2
Time-Based Greetings

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    Stick with "Bonjour" in the morning and afternoon. There is no special greeting for the morning or afternoon.
    • Since bonjour literally means “good day,” you are essentially saying “good morning” or “good afternoon” when you use the term since morning and afternoon are both considered part of the daytime.
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    Switch to "Bonsoir" in the evening. The literal translation of this word is “good evening,” and it should be used to say “hello” in the evening or at night.[6]
    • The term can be used in formal and casual settings, but it is more likely to be heard in formal settings.
    • Bon means “good” and soir means “evening.”
    • Pronounce the term as bon-swar.
    • One way to greet a crowd of people in the evening is to state, "Bonsoir mesdames et messieurs," meaning, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen."

Article Info

Categories: French