Social Niceties

French social niceties
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Traveling can be fun and exciting, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of those is learning about and following local customs, such as knowing what to say in any given social situation. Here are some essential French phrases with links to detailed lessons.


If you only speak one word of French, make it bonjour, which is the real magic French word. Always greet people before saying anything else, even just je regarde seulement (I’m just looking).
Greeting gesture: faire la bise

Ça va ?

This short phrase can both ask how someone is doing and answer that question, but remember that it’s informal.
Other ways to say “how are you?”

S’il vous plaît

Say "please" whenever you ask for something.


And when the other person does your bidding, “thank you.”
What about "you’re welcome"?

On peut se tutoyer ?

Not sure whether it’s ok to use the familiar tu? Just ask.
Tu vs vous

Si ce n’est pas indiscret

When you want to ask someone about a potentially sensitive topic, avoid offense by first asking if it’s ok.

À la vôtre !

Want to make a toast? To your health!

Bon appétit !

The polite thing to say before eating.

À tes souhaits !

What you might say after someone sneezes.

Au revoir

Don’t just smile and walk away – it’s important to end even brief conversations by saying “good-bye.”

 Related lessons

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French social niceties

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