How to say hello in French?
If you want to start learning French, the first word you should say is “Bonjour“. But “hello” in French is not that simple.
With this famous word « Bonjour » you might have noticed that it’s made up of two words: bon and jour. It literally means “Good day.” It is the equivalent of saying “hello”. You can use it with anyone, from a close friend or family member, to someone you just met.
At the 13th center, its was written in two words “Bon Jour” and was meaning “Happy day”.
It is one of the most important rule to respect if you don’t want to be seen as a rude person! There is another word, as important as Bonjour, to say Goodbye: Au revoir. Even if you did not take French at school (a big mistake by the way!) you would know it for sure.
In formal contexts, you will often hear a parallel with bonjour. Bonsoir can also be use to say Bonjour, but in the evening.
It happens very often to enter in a shop or a restaurant, and say « Bonjour » but since it is 5pm, the person in front of you could say “Bonsoir”; either you don’t pay attention, or you can have the impression that this person just corrected your error…and answer with an awkward smile.
When you leave a bakery, for example, instead of Bonsoir or Au revoir, we say “Bonne journée”, which translates to “Goodbye and have a nice day!” The word is so important for French people that there is even a forum on internet, what to think about the people who do not say hello. Some get angry at not getting an answer when they say hello to their neighbors. The tradition is to repeat Bonjour until we get an answer, great strategy right? So…many of them get so angry that show the serial killer they are hiding inside!
I have a souvenir from my little childhood. I went with my grand mother to the bakery, and I said « Bonjour » to the baker. He did not answer so I said to my grand mother « Mamie, he did not say hello », and she said to me « It’s because she is rude, honey »
Now, let’s understand another word, “Salut”. It is coming from the latin word “Salutem” and appeared in the 12th century. But nobody said “Salut!” to Louis 14th, the Sun King!
You cannot use this word with everyone. It is a very friendly word you can use with your friends. It is like “Hi”. You can try in a restaurant…you will see the reaction of the waiter! Now you are ready to face the French! Good luck and…bonsoir!