Essential French Phrases - Social Niceties

Learn some important French phrases related to social niceties

When traveling to France - or anywhere else, for that matter - it's important to follow the local customs. A big part of this is knowing what to say in different social situations. Take a look at these essential French phrases related to social niceties, and click the links for more detailed information and sound files.

If you only speak one word of French, make it bonjour. You should always begin your conversations by greeting the other person.

Greeting gestures: faire la bise - se serrer la main

Ça va ?
This is the most common way to ask how someone is doing, but you do need to be careful with it as it is informal.
Other ways to say "how are you?"

S'il vous plaît
In English, "please" is the magic word, but in French it's a magic phrase.

When your wish is granted, be sure to say "thank you."

Si ce n'est pas indiscret
When chatting with acquaintances about things like jobs and family situation, they ask for permission to ask such personal questions with this expression.

On peut se tutoyer ?
If you're not sure whether it's ok to use the familiar tu, just ask.
Tu vs Vous

À la vôtre !
The most common expression for making a toast.
How to pronounce French wines

Bon appétit !
We use this expression in English sometimes, but the French say it constantly.
How to read a French menu

À tes souhaits !
What to 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."

See my lesson on politeness for other essential French phrases related to social niceties.

Learn more common French phrases with these lessons:

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Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "Essential French Phrases - Social Niceties." ThoughtCo, Dec. 16, 2014, Lawless, Laura K. (2014, December 16). Essential French Phrases - Social Niceties. Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "Essential French Phrases - Social Niceties." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).