How to Say Good Morning in French - And Other French Morning Greetings.
Whether you are planning to travel to France or to any other country that is primarily French-speaking, you are going to need to learn the language. Since this might take some time, there are some common phrases that would make the process easier for you.
Boost your fluency in French with our French Frequency Dictionary series. You will learn 10,000 most common French words listed by frequency and alphabet. You will also find out how to pronounce them correctly (very important in French!). Moreover, each entry contains an example sentence translated into English, which is a great reading practice!
How Do You Say “Good Morning” in French?
The most common way to say good morning in French is bonjour – pronounced [bɔ̃ʒuʁ] in the IPA transcription. It literally means “good day,” but most people use it to say hello in the morning or during the day.
In mainland France, however, French-speakers will not use the literal good morning as a form of greeting when the day starts. As such, you are highly likely to encounter other morning traditions that the French observe, which could seem strange if you are from the English-speaking world.
Read on to find out more:
Greeting People in French in the Morning
Bonjour would work when you wish to say good morning, at least in many contexts. Although the word matin is used for morning, people in French-speaking countries will not use it while saying “good morning.” Instead, they would use bonjour.
Although this word means “good day” in English, it is mostly used to say “hello” or “good morning” in much the same way you would greet other people in the morning when you are in a Francophone country.
Generally speaking, French speakers do not place any emphasis on mornings. This is why breakfast is typically small and light. It might also be one of the reasons why it is so uncommon to greet people with a good morning.
However, this is not the case in French-speaking Canada, particularly in Québec. While there, you might hear people using bon matin as a form of greeting in the morning. This greeting is not traditionally French but was adopted by the country.
Informal French Morning Greetings
If you are greeting a friend, a member of your family, or a close acquaintance, you could use a less formal way. It is generally recommended that you switch to “salut.” It is pronounced: [saly] in the IPA transcription. The English equivalent of this greeting would be hey, hello, or hi.
However, you should only use this informal greeting while addressing someone who is younger than you or very close to you personally. Remember, French culture is highly formal and salut might not be appropriate while addressing people who are older than you or higher than you in the social order, even if they are close family members.
What to Say in French When Leaving in the Morning
While leaving someone you just talked to during morning hours, it is considered polite to offer them a bonne matinée. This phrase is pronounced as [bɔn ma.ti.ne]. It means good morning but should not be used as a form of greeting when you first meet someone in the morning. Instead, you should say it when you are leaving.
When you use it in this way, it accurately means that you are wishing them a good morning ahead. This is something that you would typically be expected to do as part of the rules of “politesse” that are so useful for getting along with French-speakers. It would be the same way you would say have a good day or a nice day ahead while taking your leave in the English-speaking world.
Use French Titles for Strangers
You can learn how to say good morning in French by adding a title when you meet someone you do not know very well in the morning. As we mentioned earlier, French culture is highly formal. This is why it is considered polite to add titles when you wish to greet strangers.
Examples of titles you can add to the greeting “bonjour” include:
- Madame (pronounced [ma.dam]): While speaking to a woman who is older than you or obviously married
- Monsieur (pronounced [mə.sjø]): While speaking to any adult man, irrespective of their age or marital status
- Mademoiselle (pronounced [mad.mwa.zɛl]): While speaking to a young girl or a young woman who does not seem to be married (lack of a wedding ring on their finger)
From saying good morning in French to finding your way around – all while remaining polite (a general rule of thumb in French-speaking countries is “politesse” or politeness) – try to learn all the common phrases in French before and during your trip. If possible, get yourself a French frequency dictionary to make the process easier for yourself. Bon voyage!
If you want to learn practical French vocabulary, don't forget to take a look at our French Frequency Dictionaries. You'll get 10,000 most common French words together with example sentences translated into English. That amounts to roughly 400,000 words. That's a great reading practice.
A Few Pointers
- Bonjour (hello or good morning) and Au revoir (Goodbye) work in basically any situation.
- Salut can also be used as an informal way to say “bye-bye.”
- Allô is used only when you are on the phone. Don’t use to greet someone on the street.
- À plus tard! means “See you later!”
- Last but not least, don’t use “bon matin” to wish someone a good morning. This phrase is used marginally, e.g. in French-speaking Quebec. You can say bonne matinée as a farewell greeting in the meaning “Have a good morning.”