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Lesson Transcript

Michael: How do you greet someone at different times of the day?
Aurore: And are there any alternatives?
Michael: At FrenchPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Ben Lee is greeting his friend, but he hasn't noticed how late it has become. Ben says,
"Good morning."
Ben Lee: Bonjour.
Ben Lee: Bonjour.
Justine Jérôme: Il est déjà 21 heures. Bonsoir.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Bonjour.
Michael: "Good morning."
Justine Jérôme: Il est déjà 21 heures. Bonsoir.
Michael: "It's already 9 p.m. Good evening."

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, we will talk about time-sensitive French greetings. French, similar to English, has some greetings that are used depending on the time of the day, or,
Aurore: moment de la journée.
Michael: However, French greetings are not used in the same way that English greetings are. For instance, while "Good morning" is often translated in French as
Aurore: Bonjour,
Michael: this French expression isn't limited to greeting someone in the morning, or the time between the rising of the sun and 12 noon. It's more like the French version of "Good day," which you can use throughout the day as long as the sun has not yet gone down. But, once the sun has set, you should switch to,
Aurore: Bonsoir
Michael: which literally means "Good evening."
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Ben Lee says "Good morning?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Aurore as Ben Lee: Bonjour.
Michael: This expression is made up of two words,
Aurore: bon
Michael: which is equivalent to the word "good," and,
Aurore: jour
Michael: An Old French word that literally means "day." To say,
Aurore: bonjour
Michael: is to say "good day" in French. Again, while this expression is often translated as "good morning" in English, it's a greeting that's used throughout the day until around 6 in the evening.
[Recall 2]
Michael: Now, let's take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Justine Jerome says "It's already 9 p.m. Good evening?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Aurore as Justine Jerome: Il est déjà 21 heures. Bonsoir.
Michael: Ben greeted Justine with a "Good day," even though it was already late in the evening. Justine gently corrects him and says he should instead be using the expression,
Aurore: Bonsoir
Michael: which literally means "Good evening," and comes from the two words,
Aurore: bon
Michael: which again means "good," and
Aurore: soir
Michael: which means "evening." This same expression can be used as a substitute for "goodbye" when you're leaving, as long as it's still nighttime.
Michael: In today's lesson, we learned that French, similar to English, has time-related greetings, which are
Aurore: bonjour
Michael: which means "Good day," and is used to say hello to someone during day time, and,
Aurore: bonsoir
Michael: a greeting that literally means "Good evening." However, unlike the word
Aurore: bonjour,
Michael: this expression can be used when you're saying goodbye to someone at night. Oh, by the way—while we're on this topic, you may be wondering about
Aurore: Bonne nuit
Michael: This means "Good night," and I thought it'd be great to mention it, as many students often make the mistake of using this as a greeting,which doesn't actually work in French. Indeed,
Aurore: Bonne nuit
Michael: is only used as a way of saying goodbye, either when you're leaving a place, or just going to bed in your own home. You can say it to friends or your family to wish them a good night. So, in short, if you're greeting someone in the evening or at night, always use
Aurore: Bonsoir
Michael: and keep
Aurore: Bonne nuit
Michael: to bid your loved ones good night when going to bed.
Michael: Perhaps you're wondering why we haven't covered the expression "Good afternoon." Or maybe you're asking if there are alternatives to the two expressions we've just learned. Let's delve into these two subjects, starting with the expression "Good afternoon." French people don't really use the expression "Good afternoon," as they already find the expression,
Aurore: Bonjour
Michael: sufficient. However, the expression has a French equivalent, of course, and you say it as,
Aurore: Bonne après-midi.
Michael: Just so you know though,
Aurore: Bonne après-midi
Michael: wouldn't be used to actually greet someone, but as a way of saying goodbye when leaving, in the sense "have a good afternoon." What about alternatives to "Good day" and "Good evening?" While the expressions,
Aurore: Bonjour and Bonsoir
Michael: may seem too formal, they really are just the standard equivalent of saying "Hello" in French. However, if they're still too formal for you, you can instead use expressions such as
Aurore: Salut.
Michael: This is the equivalent of "hi" or "hey" and is something that you use to greet family, friends, and colleagues. You can use this to greet anyone regardless of their age, but keep in mind that it's an informal greeting and should be used only when addressing someone you're very familiar with. A similar expression would be
Aurore: coucou
Michael: which also means "Hi" in French. This is a cute way of greeting someone, and it's something you won't hear a lot of males say, unless it's a dad talking to his child. And, like in most languages, there are other ways you can say "Hello" in French that isn't necessarily "Hello." One way is with the expression,
Aurore: Ça va ?
Michael: which means "How are you doing?" or "How are you?" This the most standard way of asking someone how they are doing, but you can also say it like,
Aurore: Comment ça va ?
Michael: or "How is it going?" And if you feel like sounding a bit less formal, you can go with,
Aurore: Quoi de neuf ?
Michael: which is the equivalent of "What's up?"
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: Whenever you're not sure how to greet someone in French, just stick with,
Aurore: Bonjour and Bonsoir
Michael: and you'll be fine. However, there are certain situations that you need to be specific with your greeting. For instance, when answering the phone in French, you should say,
Aurore: allô
Michael: which is the appropriate way of saying "Hello" when greeting someone on the phone. But then you can also say
Aurore: Oui, bonjour
Michael: or "Yes, hello." Or simply
Aurore: Oui
Michael: or "Yes," if you know who's calling. And did you know that there's a word for when you want to say hello to someone again? This usually happens when you've spoken to someone and need to get back to them for an update, or when the two of you have already met earlier in the day and meet each other again afterward. It's not common in French culture to say a second
Aurore: Bonjour
Michael: or "Hello again," so French people would instead say
Aurore: Rebonjour
Michael: which is literally a "re-hello."


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Aurore: À bientôt!
Michael: See you soon!