How to Use the French Expression Ça Va in Conversation

Laughing businessman in meeting with colleagues
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The French expression ça va (pronounced "sah vah") is one of the most common in the entire language. Improve your French skills with this guide by finding out the correct way to use the phrase ça va.

Meaning

Literally translated, ça va means "it goes." Used in casual conversation, it can be both a question and a reply, but it's an informal expression. You probably wouldn't want to ask your boss or a stranger this question unless the setting was casual.

But if you're speaking with people whom you know, such as family and friends, ça va is perfectly acceptable.

Asking a Question

One of the most common uses of ça va is as a greeting or to ask how someone is doing. For example:

  • Salut, Guy, ça va ? / Hi, Guy, how's it going?
  • Comment ça va ? / How's it going?

The expression can also be used with a subject or object. Note that the phrase doesn't vary. No change is necessary for a plural subject:

  • Ça va les filles ? / How's it going, girls?
  • Ça va le nouvel ordi ? / How's the new computer working?

You can also use the phrase to ask whether something just discussed is acceptable:

  • On va partir vers midi, ça va ? / We'll leave around noon, is that ok? Does that work for you?

Moreover, you can answer any of the above as well as any similar questions with ça va:

  • Ça va, Marc ? / How's it going, Marc?
  • Oui, ça va. / Fine.
  • Tu vas bien, André ? / Are you okay, André?
  • Ça va. / Yes, I'm okay.
  • Il faut être prêt dans une heure, ça va ? / You have to be ready in an hour, okay?
  • Ça va. / okay.

The expression ça va can also be an exclamation:

  • Oh ! Ça va ! / Hey, that's enough!

Other Uses

Ça va plus an infinitive can mean simply "it will." This construction can be useful when you're speaking about something that will occur, but you don't know precisely when.

For instance:

  • Ça va venir / It'll happen, it will come.

Ça va plus an indirect object pronoun means, "That looks good on ___," or "It suits ___." For instance, a pair of friends shopping for clothes might have this exchange:

  • Ça te va (bien) / That suits you.
  • Ça lui va bien / That looks good on him/her.

Variations

FrenchEnglish
Ça va aller ? Will it be okay? Will that work?
Ça va aller It will be okay.
Ca va bien ? Is it going well? Are you doing well?
Ça va bienIt's going well. I'm doing well.
Ça va mal It's going badly. I'm not doing so well.
Ça (ne) va pasIt's not going well. It's not okay
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Lawless, Laura K. "How to Use the French Expression Ça Va in Conversation." ThoughtCo, Oct. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/ca-va-vocabulary-1371141. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, October 17). How to Use the French Expression Ça Va in Conversation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ca-va-vocabulary-1371141 Lawless, Laura K. "How to Use the French Expression Ça Va in Conversation." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ca-va-vocabulary-1371141 (accessed January 19, 2018).