Leading on from our previous guide on greetings in French, you’ll most certainly want to learn how to say ‘good morning’ too.
What is the best way to say “good morning” in French?
If you’re unsure how to say it, this guide will walk you through the best formal and informal French morning greetings to help you impress French speakers.
What is the French phrase for “good morning”?
The word you’ll need to say “good morning” in French is bonjour.
Bonjour means “hello” in French and it is used to greet someone in the morning.
You’ll hear it frequently used by French-speaking natives as it literally means “good day”.
You can use bonjour up until the evening time because at around seven o’clock, this switches to bonsoir.
This also done in English where we switch to “good evening” when the sun sets.
It’s not bon jour with a space in the middle, by the way.
When you’re writing it, these two words are always combined — so it’s bonjour.
And although it might sound a little prim, proper, or even a bit outdated to say “good day” in English (where you might have heard it said in sentences like “good day to you sir”), bonjour is the standard in many different French-speaking countries.
How do we pronounce bonjour?
Though bonjour is difficult to pronounce, remember that the first half of the word (bon) has a sharp/quick, nasal pronunciation.
The second half of the word (jour) is pronounced as though it has the letters zj at the beginning.
Though you might need to practice to perfect the nasal sound, you should try to pronounce it like this: “bohnzjur”.
Try it out a few times and if you’re not sure, listen to how the natives say it!
What are some other phrases for “good morning” in French?
But you don’t have to stick to bonjour — the table below contains a few alternatives to say “good morning” in French:
|Bonne journée !
|Have a nice day!
So, when should each of these be used? Keep reading for those critical contexts!
Which vocabulary should you remember when using French morning greetings?
In the table below, you’ll find a list of key vocabulary related to morning greetings in French.
These words include phrases that describe cultural norms and customs that you can expect to see in France. Take a look:
|Se serrer la main
|To shake each other’s’ hands
|Faire la bise
|To kiss on the cheeks
Notable French customs when saying “good morning”
Although one of these might take you by surprise, there are some common French customs that accompany the morning greeting.
The main one to be aware of, which differs from English customs, is the faire la bise.
The faire la bise is where two friends or family members kiss each other on each cheek as part of a greeting.
This is common in France, and also in neighbouring Spain, so don’t be surprised if you’re meeting a friend of a friend and they kiss you on the cheek!
There’s a “but” here though…
But remember that colleagues don’t normally give two kisses.
The custom in this context is that they will serrer la main — that is, they’ll shake hands.
Of course, this is the norm in English speaking countries, so you’ll probably remember this custom for French office settings.
Now, let’s return to the French morning greetings.
In which contexts do you use salut in French?
Salut is one way of saying “good morning” in French.
It has an informal tone and register and should be reserved for addressing friends and family. The English equivalent would be a casual “Hi”.
When using salut, think of it this way: if you know the person well, you can use salut to greet them.
If you’re not familiar with the person, or they’re a stranger, use bonjour.
Oh, and just before we move onto the next one, salut can mean “bye” in French as well—but this is a little bit rare.
Here’s an example of salut being used as an opening morning greeting:
Salut, comment ça va? J’espère que tu vas bien.
And here’s an example of salut being used as a phrase to say “bye” in French:
Je t’appellerai quand je rentrerai à la maison. Salut.
How should allô be used to say “good morning” in French?
English speakers, beware of this one! Allô might seem like a cognate, but it is only really used over the phone.
So, yes, it means “hello”, but it’s always used when saying “hello” on the phone, or to determine if the person is still on the line.
It’s used as a sort of question in the same tone we would use to answer the phone in English. So, if you receive a phone call in France, or if a French native speaker gives you a call, you can answer the call with allô?
Take a look at this example:
Vous avez un appel téléphonique, monsieur, je ne sais pas qui c’est.
Allô? Bonjour. Oui, c’est Alex. Qui parle?
When do we use bonne journée in French?
This French morning greeting is better described as a phrase used when you’re about to leave someone or the meeting is over.
It literally translates to English as “good/nice day”, and means “have a nice day”.
For this version of “good morning” in French, when we write it, there is a space between the two words, and remember that since journée is a feminine noun, we must use the feminine adjective bonne to wish someone a good day.
Here’s a typical example of bonne journée being used:
Merci de magasiner avec nous. Bonne journée.
What about the phrase bon matin? Should I use this to say “good morning” in French?
In French, bon matin is not used to greet others in the morning.
The confusion arises since bon matin literally means “good morning” in English, and English speakers might therefore use it when speaking to French natives.
But it is not used in French speaking countries.
While we’re at it, bonne matinée is also not used in France.
It’s mostly bonjour that you’ll hear in formal circumstances (between strangers), and salut in informal situations (between friends and family).
Formal and informal: When to use the key French morning greetings
Just before we get to the end of the article, the table just below contains a quick summary of when to use the key French morning greetings, and whether you should use them in formal or informal contexts:
|Both formal and informal
|Both formal and informal
|Have a nice day
|Both formal and informal
The key is to learn the contexts and practice as often as you can.
Brighten someone’s day with a cheery “good morning” in French
There’s no question that saying “good morning” in French is a nice way to begin an interaction.
And now that you know the key ways to say it, there’s no excuse but to start using these greetings when you meet French natives!
The best way to remember French phrases like “good morning” and others is regular usage/practice (ideally you should find a local French speaking partner or tutor on italki).
Have you got any other variations for “good morning” in French?
Add your contribution below in the comments section!
You might also be interested in our guide on how to say good morning in Spanish as well.
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