À tes Souhaits - French Expression Explained

man sneezing toward woman
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The French expression À tes souhaits (pronounced [a tay sweh]) is a social nicety and literally translates to "to your wishes." It has an informal register and is the equivalent of the English phrase "bless you".

Explanation and Example

You can and should use the French expression à tes souhaits any time a friend sneezes (as long as you're not interrupting a speech or something).

Unlike its English equivalent "bless you," à tes souhaits has no religious connotation whatsoever, instead offering the sneezer your hopes that his or her wishes will come true.

If the person sneezes more than once, there's a more elaborate saying: After the first sneeze - A tes souhaits, 2nd sneeze - à tes amours, 3rd sneeze - one of the following:
   avec un grand "A" et beaucoup de "s"
   et à tes enfants
   et à ton argent
   et qu'elles durent toujours
   que les tiennes durent toujours

(Elles and tiennes in the last two variations refer to amours.)

The formal equivalent à vos souhaits can be addressed to a complete stranger with no risk of offense, but again, consider the context. On the bus: yes. During a business meeting: probably not.

Souhaits is the plural of un souhait (wish), from the verb souhaiter (to wish).