Formal greetings in French

Mastering Formal Greetings in French: A Comprehensive Guide

In French culture, formal greetings play a crucial role in establishing respect and rapport, whether you’re interacting in a professional setting or meeting someone for the first time.

Understanding and using appropriate formal greetings can make a significant difference in how you’re perceived.

In this guide, we’ll explore various formal greetings in French, along with examples to help you navigate social and professional interactions with confidence.

1. Bonjour (Hello)

“Bonjour” is perhaps the most common and versatile formal greeting in French. It’s suitable for use in almost any situation, from business meetings to casual encounters. Remember to pronounce it with a soft “j” sound, as in “bon-zhoor.”


  • Bonjour, monsieur/madame. (Hello, sir/madam.)
  • Bonjour, comment allez-vous ? (Hello, how are you?)

2. Bonsoir (Good evening)

“Bonsoir” is used specifically in the evening, typically after 6 p.m. It’s a polite and refined way to greet someone as the day transitions into the evening.


  • Bonsoir, mademoiselle. (Good evening, miss.)
  • Bonsoir, avez-vous passé une bonne journée ? (Good evening, did you have a good day?)

3. Salut (Hi)

While “salut” can be used in informal contexts among friends and acquaintances, it can also be employed as a polite greeting in more casual professional settings. However, it’s generally best to reserve “salut” for situations where you’re already acquainted with the person.


  • Salut, monsieur Dupont. (Hi, Mr. Dupont.)
  • Salut, comment ça va ? (Hi, how are you?)

4. Bonne journée (Have a good day)

“Bonne journée” is a courteous way to bid farewell or wish someone well during the daytime. It’s often used after an initial greeting or as part of a closing statement.


  • Bonjour, monsieur. Bonne journée ! (Hello, sir. Have a good day!)
  • Merci beaucoup. Bonne journée à vous aussi. (Thank you very much. Have a good day yourself too.)

5. Enchanté(e) (Nice to meet you)

“Enchanté” or “enchantée” is used to express pleasure upon meeting someone for the first time. It’s a polite way to acknowledge the introduction and convey warmth and friendliness.


  • Bonjour, je m’appelle Marie. Enchantée. (Hello, my name is Marie. Nice to meet you.)
  • Enchanté, monsieur Leblanc. (Nice to meet you, Mr. Leblanc.)

6. Comment allez-vous ? (How are you?)

While “comment allez-vous” may seem like a simple inquiry, it’s a courteous way to show genuine interest in someone’s well-being. In formal contexts, it’s essential to use this phrase appropriately.


  • Bonjour, monsieur. Comment allez-vous aujourd’hui ? (Hello, sir. How are you today?)
  • Enchanté, madame. Comment allez-vous ? (Nice to meet you, madam. How are you?)


Mastering formal greetings in French is an essential aspect of navigating social and professional interactions with finesse.

By incorporating these common greetings into your vocabulary and using them appropriately, you can establish positive connections and demonstrate respect for French cultural norms.

Practice these greetings regularly to become comfortable with their usage and nuances, and you’ll soon find yourself confidently engaging in conversations in French-speaking environments.

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