We have already covered the topic of greeting someone in French earlier in our blog. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of nuances you need to learn to become fully fluent in French.
For example, did you know that “bon matin” is not the correct French phrase for “good morning?” Can you tell the difference between “Bon soir” and “bonne soiree?” You might if you have already read this post, but if not - read on.
Today, we are going to tell you everything there is to know about greeting someone in the morning and in the evening like a true French person. We’ll share with you all the secrets of choosing the right phrase and doing it with the perfect French pronunciation. So, are you ready to say “good morning” in French like a native? Let’s go.
And if you want to practice right away or learn some other French phrases, try our app right here, right now:
“Bonjour” - The Classic “Good Morning” in French
The following phrase is the most common way of saying “good morning” in French, and you will hear it the most often. “Bonjour” is not only limited to the morning, it can also be used to greet someone you meet for the first time during the day.
You can say bonjour in many formal and informal situations. It is the easiest way to greet someone in French. Once you have mastered it, you can use it almost everywhere and at any time.
“Bonjour” has many different meanings, but the most basic one is “hello.” You can also use it to say “good afternoon,” “good evening,” “good night,” and even “goodbye.” Literally, it means “good day.” It is the most frequently used French word when coming or going.
The first thing you have to know about this French greeting is that the stress is always put on the last syllable. There are several consonants in French that are silent when out at the end of the word.
N in “bon” is thus not pronounced - and as “bonjour” is originally a combination of two words - “good” and “day” - n will also be silent here.
The “ou” combination sounds like oo in the English “zoo” - so you will basically say something like bo~zhooR.
Add Formality to the Phrase
When someone is older than you or in a higher position than you, you should always show them respect by using titles before their name. To do that, simply add “Madame” or “Monsieur” after the basic bonjour.
This greeting is more polite than the one you use with your friends and family, but not as formal as some other expressions. The word order is the same as in English - first name, then title.
For example, if you want to say “good morning” to your neighbor, you would say Bonjour Madame/Monsieur Dupont. If you are talking to a woman who is younger than you, you can also use the title “Mademoiselle.”
When to Use Regular and Formal “Bonjour”
You can use the regular “bonjour” both in formal and informal situations. It’s useful when talking to friends or family members, and it’s also good for formal ones, like when you’re at work. If you want to add even more formality to the phrase, use “Madame” or “Monsieur,” this will sound very polite.
And if you ever feel confused about which one to choose, you can always fall back on this classic “Bonjour” greeting. Everyone knows what it means, and you won’t be incorrect to use it at any moment.
“Bon Matin” - “Good Morning,” but Only in Canada
French speakers in Canada are very particular about the way they greet someone, and they have a separate phrase for “good morning” that is not used in France. In fact, it is actually considered wrong to use this expression in European French as this is an anglicism, a phrase borrowed from English.
The most common way of saying “good morning” in Quebec is bon matin, which literally means “good morning.” As mentioned, it is never used in France, but some learners find it easier to pronounce.
However, unless you are traveling around the Quebec area, we strongly recommend not using this expression when wishing good morning to French people.
Unlike regular “bonjour,” “bon matin” is a more formal way of greeting someone. For example, you can use it to say good morning to your boss (or a group of people, as you would use the same pronoun vous in the conversation). While it is a bit more informal than Bonjour Madame/Monsieur, it is still more polite than just saying, “Hey you!”
Pronouncing "Bon Matin"
When saying bon matin, remember that French people pronounce the “i” letter differently than English speakers. So instead of [ai] or [ee], you will say something like ah.
Bo~ matah~ may be a pretty good way of saying this phrase - however, if you want to hear how native French speakers use it, visit YouTube tutorials or download our app.
“Bonsoir” and “Bonne Soirée” - What’s the Difference?
If you have been reading our blog, you probably already know that “soir” and “soirée” both mean “evening.” However, just like with “bonjour” and “bonne journée,” there is a difference in the usage of these two words.
The difference is “bonsoir,” “bonjour,” and “bon matin” (masculine) all mean this moment in time - you can use it, for example, when saying hello to the friend you’re meeting.
On the other hand, their feminine versions - “bonne soirée’, “bonne journée,” and “bonne matinée,” are meant for a longer period of time. For example, when you’re parting ways with someone at night, you can say bonne soirée or bonne journée.
Basically, “bonjour” or “bonsoir” mean “hello” and “goodbye,'' while their longer alternatives will be used when you want to say something like “have a nice morning/evening."
This duration that the -ée suffix adds to the word can be seen in another popular French phrase: Bonne Année, or “Happy New Year.” This way, you wish the recipient a good year all year long, not just say, “it’s a good year at this moment.”
Pronuncing "Bon Soir"
The French words for “evening” are pronounced differently depending on the form you’re using - for example, you will say suar for “soir,” while “soiree” will sound like sua-RREH.
The same goes for “bonne journée” and “bonne matinée” - you simply add the -rreh suffix at the end.
“Salut” - Casual and Fun
When it comes to informal ways of greeting someone in French, there is no better word than “salut.” It is super informal, it can be used both by men and women, and just like “bonjour,” you can use it to say both “hello” and “good morning.”
Basically, salut is the first French word that some children learn to say -- and the first thing you should master when you decide to learn French. If you don’t know it yet, add it to your vocabulary right away. Anytime you want to say bonjour to your close friends or relatives, you can change it to a casual salut.
Moreover, you can use “salut” both to greet people and to say goodbye. “Salut” works for any time of day (although French people prefer changing it to bonsoir when saying “good evening.”)
“Comment Ça Va ?” - When You Want to Avoid a Traditional Greeting
Another way to say “good morning” in the French language is to simply ask the person how he or she is - you can do that with a phrase we have already learned earlier, Comment ça va ? (How do you do?) It’s not one of the traditional morning greetings in French, yet it is often used by native speakers.
You can ask someone how they are in both formal and casual situations (although we recommend avoiding it during conversations with your strict boss.) If you want to use a more casual and friendly tone, you can stick to the shorter version, Ça va ? Just remember to only use it in informal settings.
Pronuncing "Comment Ça Va ?"
Comment ça va ?
How do you do?
Ça va ?
How are you?
This phrase may seem a little more complicated than the other ways to say “good morning” in French that we have covered today. However, it’s not that challenging. You just have to remember that the -ent suffix is pronounced as en~, where the n is nasal. This sound is also transcribed as [ɑ̃] - write it down, it will help you remember.
Another rule: the -ent suffix is not always pronounced in French words. For example, in verbs, it’s always silent - so if you see something like ils parlent, you will know to pronounce it as il paRl.
With the second part of the expression, you shouldn’t have any problems. The “ç” letter is pronounced like the English s. Komɑ̃ sa va is what this phrase should sound like. But make sure to listen to the way native speakers pronounce it - it will make your life easier.
Sound More Natural When Saying Good Morning in French
Don’t just say bland phrases as they are, you don’t want to sound like just another tourist visiting Paris. Instead, personalize your ways of saying hello or good morning in French and make it fancier.
For example, when you use “bonjour,” you can add some of the following phrases to it:
Ma chérie/mon chér
My sweetheart/darling (to a woman and to a man that you’re dating).
Ma belle/mon beau
My beautiful/handsome (to a woman and to a man you find attractive).
Of course, all those are pretty casual - so avoid using them in formal situations.
When talking to your boss or your neighbor, you can instead use “Madame/Mademoiselle/Monsieur,” depending on the person you’re talking to. Bonjour monsieur sounds very polite, so that can definitely help you make a good first impression at work.
Want to avoid all of the above but still add a hint of flavor to your morning greetings? Simply greet the person by their name - Bonjour Étienne ! Or, if you’re speaking with a group of people, use “a tous,” which literally means “to all.” When you say Bonjour a tous, you will be saying, “Hello everyone.”
Final Thoughts on French "Good Morning"
Today, we have covered a simple yet necessary subject of greeting someone in the morning or in the evening. We hope that now you know that bonjour is not the only French word for “good morning’. We also hope that you will never use the phrase bon matin anywhere outside the Quebec area.
Another important thing to remember from today’s language learning lesson: the feminines versions of the greetings used at a certain time of the day, such as bonne journée or bonne soirée. If you didn’t remember them from our last article about greetings, check it out again - it might help you reinforce the knowledge.
And of course, if you want to learn French or practice saying good morning in it more - download our app. There you will have many opportunities to hear the native speakers using the most common French greetings - and get a chance to do it yourself.