Learn how to say good morning in French, when to say it, and what to avoid doing if you don’t want to look like a French-speaking novice.
One of the most common phrases you can learn to say in other languages is, “Good morning.” Even if you only know how to say good morning in different languages, you’ll at least be able to greet strangers and friends alike — and do so in an enjoyable, pleasant way!
How to Say Good Morning in French
Good morning is one of the most common phrases to say in French! You can use this phrase much of the day (not just first thing in the morning or before noon as we do in English-speaking countries).
To say good morning in French, you’d say, “Bonjour!”
In French, pronunciation is everything (or practically everything, at least)!
The French may forgive a lot when it comes to butchering their language, but they don’t look lightly upon those that mispronounce words. In fact, mispronouncing words is probably one of the biggest offenses a French student can make!
When saying good morning in French, To pronounce bonjour, you may be tempted to simply sound out the word and say, “bahn-joor.” And while this isn’t terribly off-base to our English ears, it’s practically a crime in France. If you want to say bonjour and sound like a local, you’ll want to say, “bown-zhoor.”
If you really want to sound like a local, you may want to practice saying French words with a language translation app, like Vocre.
Vocre offers text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and even voice-to-voice translation. The best part is that you can download the app on your phone when you have wifi or cell service and continue to use it even if your signal is lost.
When to Say Bonjour
Bonjour can be used correctly in many situations — not just to wish someone a good morning when first waking up!
In the U.S. (and other English-speaking countries), we often say good morning only when we first awake. But in other countries, it’s used throughout the morning, often right up until 11:59 a.m.
Bonjour is also both an informal word and a semi-formal word, meaning you can use it with friends, relatives, and even some people you’ve just met.
In English-speaking countries, we use the phrase good morning pretty informally, though we may also tell a stranger good morning as we pass them on the street.
Similarly, you may the word bonjour to say good morning in French to your friends and family members, too.
The crazy thing in French is that you can say bonjour to someone, often regardless of what time of day it is! It’s appropriate to say bonjour to others throughout the day — often until just before evening.
This means that bonjour doesn’t just mean good morning, but it also means good day, too.
You may use bonjour to greet someone you’re familiar with or in an informal manner, and you may also say bonjour in semi-formal situations, too.
Consider it like this: if you’re wearing business-casual style to an event, you can probably say bonjour and consider you’ll be using this word appropriately. This means you can use this phrase for business meetings in English and in French.
You’ll just need to use discretion if you’re using the word in a situation where it could be considered too formal to use it.
For example, you may not want to use it at a funeral, to greet someone of great importance, or to meet someone of much higher stature.
Common Mistakes in French (or how to avoid sounding like a novice)
There are many common mistakes that English speakers use when trying to speak French. When you make these mistakes, you’ll sound instantly like a novice.
The most common mistakes English speakers use when learning French include using literal translations (word-for-word translations), mispronouncing words (a major faux pas in French), and mixing up false friends (or using French words like English words).
Don’t Use Literal Translations
We’ve all been there: we try to hack a French sentence word for word. Instead, we just end up butchering the sentence, word, or phrase! English-to-French translations are difficult because of this.
One of the best ways to show everyone you’re a novice French speaker is to use literal translations. One of the most commonly botched French translations is bon matin.
Bon means good and matin means morning. That means you can use this phrase to say good morning, right?
If you say bon matin, everyone will instantly know that you’re new to the French language. Do yourself (and everyone else who may end up feeling terribly embarrassed for you) and avoid saying this at all costs.
Pronunciation is one of the most important pieces of learning French. Many English speakers try to sound out words and end up bungling pronunciation altogether.
When you mispronounce a word (especially if you do so trying to sound it out as an English word), you’ll inadvertently end up broadcasting to every French speaker in earshot that you’re a French novice.
If you want to impress your French listeners (or, let’s be honest: simply avoid offending them), learn the correct pronunciation of each word. The best way to do this is to listen to the pronunciation of the word.
You can use a language translation app, such as Vocre, that offers text-to-voice translation.
In French, there are many words that look the same as English words, though their meanings are completely different.
Examples of commonly misused French false friends include coin (in English this means coin money; in French, it means corner), monnaie (conversely, this looks like the English word money but it means change), and actuellement (which looks like the English word actually but ‘actually’ means right now in French).
While when we’re practicing we can use our best judgment or guess what a word means, but it’s always best to know or ask what a word means if you’re trying to impress your French friends.
Don’t want to say good morning when you greet someone?
There are plenty of French greetings you can use to say hi, hey, how are you, nice to meet you, and much more! They include:
- Âllo: hello
- Ça va?: how are you?
- Coucou: hey
- Enchanté: nice to meet you
- Tu vas bien?: have you been well?
Want to learn how to tell someone to have a good day in French? Bonne means good and journée means daytime (though when you put them together, it means to have a good day).
You can use this phrase when you’re saying goodbye to someone (especially if that someone is a person you’re slightly more formal with — such as a client or a stranger on the street).
If you want to be a little less formal with friends or relatives, you can always say salut instead of saying hello or goodbye.
Salut is sort of the French equivalent of, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s similar to how the British say, “Cheers,” instead of saying hi or bye.
The direct translation of salut is salvation. When saying this word, don’t say the T sound at the end (you’ll give yourself away as a French-speaking novice right away!).
Whatever you do, don’t say salut when you’re toasting on New Year’s Eve (or any other time for that matter!).
Salut is often misused by English-speakers because salute means to your health in Italian. In French, it doesn’t mean this at all. If you want to toast in French you should say, “À ta santé,” or, “À votre santé,” both of which mean to your health in French.
Another common greeting in French is bienvenue, which simply means welcome.
You could say this greeting when welcoming someone into your home or to the country for the first time.
The masculine form of bienvenue is bienvenu.
What you don’t want to do is use the phrase bienvenue when you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French. These two phrases mean two entirely different sentiments.
If you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French, you’d say, “de rien,” which translates to, it means nothing.
Common French Phrases
Ready to learn a few more common French phrases?
Below is a list of common phrases and words for meeting someone new, asking (politely) if a French speaker also speaks English, you want to say goodbye, or if you want to explain that you don’t speak French (yet!).
- Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais?
- Excuse me: Excusez-moi
- Goodbye: Au revoir!
- I do not speak French: Je ne parle pas français
- Mrs./Mr./Miss: Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle
- Pardon me: Pardon
- See you later!: À tout à l’heure!
- Thank you/thank you very much: Merci/merci beaucoup