“How do you say how are you in French?” is one of the most basic questions I get from French beginners.
As a French coach, I can tell you there’s plenty of options you can choose from, depending on the situation.
Things to consider are:
- Are you in a formal or informal situation?
- Do you expect a brief or a detailed answer?
- Are you asking out of concern or just to check if everything is alright?
In this article, you’ll learn the different ways to say “How are you?” in French, when to use them and how to answer.
Let’s dive in!
Good to know: In English, the verb “to be” is used in “How are you?”. So you might think, we would use the verb “être” in French. But that’s not the case. In French, we use the verb “aller” (to go) to ask the very same question. Just keep this in mind when you read the rest of the article.
When you want to be polite: Comment allez-vous ?
This is a very common way to ask someone how they are in French.
You can use it in any formal situation, with anyone you don’t know well, making it a safe and polite option because you won’t risk offending anyone.
You can also use it when you’re addressing a group of people.
How to answer:
- You can answer with Je vais bien, et vous ? (I’m well, and you?)
- You can also just say Bien, et vous ? (Well, and you?)
When you want to be polite and friendly: Comment vas-tu ?
This is the more informal version of Comment allez-vous ?
You can use it with friends, family and people you know well.
How to answer:
- You can say Je vais bien, et toi ? (I’m well, and you?)
- You can also go with Bien, et toi ? (Well, and you?)
Note that Comment vas-tu ? uses an inversion which is considered rather formal.
So Comment vas-tu ? ends up being stuck between the formal and informal French.
It’s best used in writing, when you want to be considerate or when you are expecting a detailed answer afterwards.
A more casual way of asking is Comment tu vas ?
When you want to be friendly: Comment ça va ?
In informal situations, French people will actually prefer this friendly way of asking “How are you?”, instead of the previous one.
You can use it with friends, family and with anyone you’re on a tu basis.
How to answer:
- If you’re doing well, you can say Ça va bien, et toi ? (It’s going well, and you?).
- If you’re not doing well, you can answer with Ça va mal (It’s not going well).
The shortest option: Ça va ?
In French, we love shortcuts in our language.
That’s why we usually remove the Comment from Comment ça va ?
This leaves us with an even more informal version that can be used in a wide range of situations.
This option is so versatile you can actually use it with anyone, even if you don’t know them well.
Ça va ? is also a common way to greet someone, making it a convenient combination of “Hello” and “How are you?” all wrapped into two words.
In any case, this question doesn’t call for a long response.
How to answer:
- The most common reply to Ça va ? is actually Ça va.
You can even have an entire conversation with this sentence.
- Ça va ?
- Ça va. Ça va ?
- Ça va.
Who said French wasn’t easy?
When you want to check up on someone: Vous allez bien ?
When you want to check up on someone and ask them if they’re well, you can say Vous allez bien ?
You can use it in formal situations or when you’re talking to a group of people.
How to answer:
- If you’re doing well, you can answer with Oui, je vais bien, et vous ? (Yes, I’m well, and you?)
- If you’re not doing well, you can say Non, je ne vais pas bien (No, I’m not doing well)
If you’re talking to a friend or someone you know well, use the informal version Tu vas bien ?
When you want to be casual: Quoi de neuf ?
This is one of the most casual ways to ask someone how they are doing in French. It means “What’s new?” or “What’s up?”.
You can use it with friends, family or close acquaintances.
It’s a friendly expression to check in with friends or to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while.
How to answer:
- If there’s nothing new in your life, you can respond with Pas grand-chose (Not much), Rien de spécial (Nothing special) or Rien de nouveau (Nothing new).
- Otherwise, you can give a detailed answer of all the things you’ve been up to lately.
When you’re concerned about someone
When you want to ask someone “How are you?” because you’re worried about them, you can choose from one of these options.
Comment vous sentez-vous ?
This expression is used to ask “How are you feeling?” in formal situations or when talking to a group of people.
Comment tu te sens ? is the informal version, ideal when you’re speaking to a friend or close acquaintance who’s been feeling under the weather.
Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?
This means “What’s happening?”
It can be used in formal or informal situations.
Usually, you’ll ask this if someone doesn’t appear to look well or to find out what’s happening in a specific situation.
Qu’est-ce qu’il y a ?
When you want to ask someone what’s wrong, you can use Qu’est-ce qu’il y a ?
This option clearly implies that something is indeed not right and you’re concerned about the other person.
It can be both formal and informal.
Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas ?
When someone looks like they are not feeling well, you can ask them Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas ?
There’s also the shorter version Ça ne va pas ?
You can use it with friends or people you’re close with, as long as you’re comfortable asking about their problems and prepared to hear their answer.
When you’re feeling super casual
The following expressions are very informal, so use them only with friends and people you’re close with.
Ça gaze ?
This option is a little outdated, but you could still hear it in an old movie. It’s also a funny way to start a conversation with your friends. They’ll probably laugh at you for knowing this one.
Ça baigne ?
This literally translates to “It bathes?”. It’s another informal way to ask someone how they are doing.
Quoi de beau ?
This literally means “What’s beautiful?”. It’s a positive way to ask someone about the nice things happening in their life.
Ça roule ?
The literal translation is “It’s rolling?”. It’s a casual expression when you want to ask someone how they are, or more specifically if everything is going smoothly.
You can even use this super colloquial version: Ça roule, ma poule ? (How is it rolling my chick?)
Yeah, you read that right! I don’t know where it comes from and it doesn’t make much sense, but I find this expression very funny. You can use it to impress your friends.
Ask it back
Let’s say someone asks you how you are first. You tell them and you want to return the question by asking “and you?”.
It’s very simple!
Add this at the end of your sentence:
- et vous ? for formal situations or when you’re talking to a group of people.
- et toi ? for informal situations when you’re talking to someone you’re close with.
Remember, you should always return the question, unless you want to look rude.
Common answers to “How are you?” in French
If you’re on the receiving end of a “How are you?”, you can reply in many ways.
We already saw a few examples of possible responses in the article, but it’s impossible to list them all here.
So I’ll share with you other short common answers you can give, to broaden your French vocabulary.
When you’re ok
- Je vais bien (I’m well)
- Très bien (Very well)
- Pas trop mal (Not bad)
- Ça pourrait être pire (It could be worse)
- Je n’ai pas à me plaindre (I have nothing to complain about)
When you’re not ok
- Ça pourrait aller mieux (It could be better)
- Ça ne va pas bien (I’m not feeling good)
- Pas terrible (Not great)
- Bof (So so)
- Je me sens mal (I’m not feeling well)
If you’re from the United States, it’s common to hear “How are you?” when you enter a shop or at the cash register.
But don’t expect this in France!
In most situations, it’s frowned upon to ask someone you don’t know at all how they are, mostly because French people will think it’s none of your business.
So make sure to ask the question only to people you know (well or not).
The bottom line
Now, you know exactly how to ask “How are you?” in French.
With so many options, maybe you’re worried you won’t be able to memorize them all.
Just keep this in mind:
- Comment allez-vous ? for formal situations
- Comment ça va ? or just Ça va ? for informal situations
All the other options are good to know if you want more choices when asking the question or if you’re the one being asked how you are. You won’t have to wonder what the other person means. You’ll already know!
What is your favorite way to say “How are you?” in French?
Share it in the comments section below!
How are you French responses? ›
The go-to response to “how are you?” in French is bien, merci ! (“good, thanks”). It's polite and keeps the conversation rolling. You can even give it a little more oompf by adding très to the front to say très bien, merci or “very well, thanks.”What does ca va literally mean? ›
Ça va literally translates to “it goes,” but it is used in a variety of situations. The most common way you'll hear ça va is when it is used to ask someone how they're doing as a shortened version of comment ça va ?How do you respond to Ca va et toi? ›
As with English, French people tend to reply to Ça va? with a positive response – Bien, or Bien, merci – much the same way as we would use fine in English. The following responses are polite enough for a new acquaintance, but general enough for a good friend, too: Très bien, merci. Very well, thank you.How do you respond to ca va bien? ›
Ça va bien? (Things are going well?) Finally, comment ça va? is a question that means “How goes it?” You can reply ça va or pas trop mal (not too bad) as the spirit moves you. In French, how do you say "Ça va bien et tu"?What is Como Sava? ›
1 Answer. Como sa va is French for How are you, or, How is it going.How do you respond to Moi aussi? ›
Just like with other expressions, you can respond with “moi aussi” - “me too.”What does Fissa mean in French? ›
[fisa ] adverb. in double-quick time.What does ca va bien merci? ›
Answer: Ça va bien, merci. It's going well.How do you respond to Salut? ›
So to say “hello, how are you?” in French, simply say bonjour, ça va? or salut, ça va? If someone says this to you, you can respond with ça va bien (“it's going well”) or tout va bien (“everything's going well”).What is bien A toi? ›
Interjection. bien à toi. (informal) best, regards, all the best (used at the end of a casual letter)
What does Ca ne va pas du tout? ›
ça (ne) va pas du tout : things aren't going well at all; that's no good at allaller, présent.What is the meaning of Je vais bien? ›
— Je vais bien. How are you? — I'm fine.How do you respond to merci bien? ›
The usual response to merci is de rien (You're welcome – literally, It's nothing) or il n'y a pas de quoi. In a more formal context, you could say Je vous en prie or Je t'en prie.What is the meaning of Tres bien? ›
very good, very well. excellent.How do you respond to Bonsoir? ›
It is use for formal as well as informal greeting in French-speaking countries. There is also an other way of responding or greeting someone when replying to bonsoir.It is by responding "Salut". It means Hi.It is used to greet friends or well-known .What is como se llama mean? ›
¿ Cómo se llama ? - What is his name?Do people say como te va? ›
Among friends, one of the most common things to say is ¿qué tal? or ¿cómo estás? (how are you?) or ¿cómo te va? (how's it going?). In a more formal situation, it's best to use the polite form of the verb, so ¿cómo está? (how are you?). When it comes to replies, there are, of course, a multitude of things you can say.What is Sava Bara? ›
12:15. सवा बारह Sava-baa-rah.What does avec toi je suis moi mean? ›
French Words on Instagram: “Avec toi, je suis moi • With you, I am me • /a.What is Oui mon amie? ›
oui oui mon ami – Dictionary and online translation between English and over 90 other languages. French. English. oui oui mon ami. yes yes my friend.
What does Moi Moi mean? ›
(informal) bye-bye.What does fagot in French mean? ›
From French fagot (“bundle of sticks”) (referring to the wood used to make the instrument).What is a Bichette? ›
Noun. bichette f (plural bichettes) (Jersey) female kid (young goat)What does Basta mean in French? ›
Enough! , Stop!What does Rien ne va plus? ›
Borrowed from French rien ne va plus (literally “nothing goes any more”).What is Merci Dieu? ›
thank goodness an expression used to show that a person is glad that something is all right. Thank goodness it isn't raining. (Translation of Dieu merci ! from the PASSWORD French-English Dictionary © 2014 K Dictionaries Ltd)What does Ca va tres bien et toi? ›
It's going very, very well and you.What should I reply to bonjour? ›
What is the proper response to bonjour? It's more than sufficient to simply say bonjour back in response to those who greet you, but if you want to go a step beyond, you can respond with comment allez-vous, which is the French equivalent of asking how it's going.Should I say bonjour or salut? ›
Just as in English, there are several ways to say hello in French. You can simply use the informal salut (hi) on its own. You can also use bonjour (good morning or good afternoon) or bonsoir (good evening). You would only use bonne nuit (good night) at bedtime.Is salut more formal than bonjour? ›
- Salut is less formal than Bonjour, but both would be appropriate to greet a friend. Comment allez-vous ? - This expression is used for either formal/polite contexts or when you're asking more than one person, thus being the most appropriate expression for this example.
What is crois en toi? ›
Translation of "crois en toi" in English. believe in you believe in yourself believe You faith in you.What does oui et toi mean? ›
Translation of "Oui et toi" in English. Oui. yes right. et toi. and you you and.What does tous le monde mean? ›
: all the world : everybody.What is Mais oui mean? ›
2. Mais oui ! This expression means “yes” or “obviously.” It is a synonym of bien sûr !What is tout fait? ›
French (tut a fɛ ) adverb. completely; absolutely.What is tout a Leur? ›
The French idiomatic expression tout à l'heure (pronounced too tah leur) means a moment ago, just now, in a moment, right away (literally: "all at the time"). This expression refers to a short period of time, either a moment in the recent past or a moment in the near future.What is Je suis ne? ›
je suis né(e) : I was bornnaître, passé composéWhat is Je suis la? ›
Je suis là ! : I'm here!What does oui je suis? ›
Yes, I'm French.What is Merci Boku? ›
: thank you very much.
What is the meaning of Je vais bien merci? ›
I'm fine, thank you.What does Cosi Cosi mean in French? ›
In Italian: “Così così” means “So-so“, then French people started to use something similar: “Couci-couci“, which became with time: “Couci-couça“.What is Bien Bueno? ›
The Spanish word bien (bee-ehn) means 'fine' and it also means 'well'. Conversely, the word bueno (BWEH-noh) means 'good'.What is bien venu? ›
As an adjective or noun meaning "one who is welcome," bienvenu corresponds in gender to the person who or thing that is welcome. As a noun meaning "the act of welcoming, the state of being welcomed," or an interjection meaning "Welcome!", it is always feminine: bienvenue.
Coucou is a way of saying hello in French, similar to salut – hi. French dictionary Larousse defines it as a way to “cheerfully attract someone's attention when you show up by surprise.”How do you respond to Merci mille fois? ›
Merci mille fois – Thanks a million
Suitable responses to this phrase include De rien (informal), or Je vous en prie (formal) is okay for this expression. Other similar phrase to use in this situation is Merci infiniment.
The more common response is enchantée (f) or enchanté (m). It's such a pleasure to meet someone and respond with enchanté (literally, “enchanted” or “delighted”). The French know how to affirm, don't they? They've built into their customs this validating, affirming, flattering response: enchantée.How do you reply to tu vas? ›
French people generally expect an answer when they ask “comment allez-vous ?” or “comment tu vas ?”, but the answer doesn't have to be long. In fact, it's common to simply say “ça va” (it's going well) whether you actually feel good or not.What should I reply after bonjour? ›
What is the proper response to bonjour? It's more than sufficient to simply say bonjour back in response to those who greet you, but if you want to go a step beyond, you can respond with comment allez-vous, which is the French equivalent of asking how it's going.What should I reply for Merci? ›
The usual response to merci is de rien (You're welcome – literally, It's nothing) or il n'y a pas de quoi. In a more formal context, you could say Je vous en prie or Je t'en prie.
What's the most common word used in French to greet someone? ›
The most common greeting in French is the very useful “bonjour”, and “bonsoir”. The first can be used throughout the day, and the second in the evening. “Salut” is also widely used in a more informal setting.What is the proper response to Merci Beaucoup? ›
Merci Beaucoup – Thank you very much
You can reply to this phrase by saying De rien (You are welcome), if it's an informal engagement, or Je vous en prie (You are welcome), in a formal setting.
There is also an other way of responding or greeting someone when replying to bonsoir.It is by responding "Salut". It means Hi.It is used to greet friends or well-known .How do you respond to salut? ›
So to say “hello, how are you?” in French, simply say bonjour, ça va? or salut, ça va? If someone says this to you, you can respond with ça va bien (“it's going well”) or tout va bien (“everything's going well”).What salut means? ›
"Salut" can be used both for "hello" and "goodbye". It is an informal way of greeting someone or bidding them farewell. If someone introduces you to a new person, and it is an informal setting, with people your age, you say "salut".How do you respond to Oi Tudo bem? ›
The most common way to answer is to simply say: Tudo. You can also say: Tudo bem. Here are other ways to answer: Tudo certo: Literally, it means: everything right.What is tu fais quoi? ›
What are you doing?Is it rude to not say bonjour? ›
Use it and use it often! You'll come across as impolite if you don't say bonjour and that's not the first impression you'll want to make. It's even seen as insulting to not say bonjour in French and then French get the reputation for being rude or snobby… but that's a conversation for another day.What is the meaning of Allez vous? ›
(formal or plural) how are you.Is it okay to say bonjour at night? ›
Both are used to greet people but not a the same time of the day. Say "Bonjour" until the end of the afternoon and "bonsoir" once the evening starts. Bonjour is a greeting and only a greeting at the difference of "bonsoir" that can be used to say good bye in the evening and evening ONLY.