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Sociable French Expression
|Meaning||Cheers! To your health!|
|Pronunciation||[a la voht(reu)]|
|IPA||[a la votrə]|
Usage notes: When you sit down to dinner—or stand around at a party—it’s customary to toast everyone by clinking your glasses together. In English, we says "cheers!" whereas in French, you say À votre santé ! (To your health!). Others might respond with the same expression or with the shortened form À la vôtre ! (To yours!) With a group of friends, you can skip à vôtre santé and go right to the slightly informal à la vôtre.
Votre is the formal or plural possessive adjective, and la vôtre is the formal or plural possessive pronoun. (It’s feminine because it’s replacing the feminine noun la santé.) So if you’re toasting just one friend, you’d instead say À ta santé ! / À la tienne ! Even more informally, you can say À la tienne, Étienne ! regardless of the person’s name; it’s just fun because it rhymes.
If you’re not sure which expression to use, read this lesson: Tu vs vous.
To be playful, you can say À notre santé ! / À la nôtre !
There are two unwritten rules about toasting in France:
- The group toast, where everyone sticks out their arms into a big group of glasses, doesn’t exist. You have to clink your glass against each other person’s, one at a time, while making eye contact (otherwise it’s bad luck).
- Your arms can’t cross above or below anyone else’s while toasting. So if you’re in a group of four and the person to your left is toasting the person directly across from you, you have to wait until they’re finished before toasting the person diagonally from you.