Learning to meet, greet and get acquainted with other people is an essential skill in any language. French is no exception. By learning a few simple words and phrases, you can begin to introduce yourself to people who speak French and build friendships between different languages. Plus, familiarizing yourself with the basics of French etiquette can help you avoid a faux pas (gaffe) during those all-important first impressions.
Method 1 of 2: Follow the Basic Introductions
Step 1. Use the proper greeting depending on the time of day
Greetings are words like "Hello". They are simple phrases that are used when you meet or meet someone. There are many greetings in French (as well as in Spanish). Here are some of the most common ones (with pronunciation guides):
- Bonjour (hello or good morning): Bon-yshu. The "ysh" is pronounced in a similar way to the Argentine "y", but with vibration. The n and r are very delicate, almost silent.
- Bonsoir (good night): Bon-sua. Here again, the n is very delicate.
- Bonne nuit (good night): Bon nui. The n is not so delicate here.
- You can use "bonjour" in almost all situations, so it's a good idea to memorize this word. The others are only used later in the day.
Step 2. If you are with close people, use "salut" instead
This is a greeting informal. It's like "hello" in Spanish. It's okay to use it with friends, family, and children, but you probably don't want to use it with a new boss or teacher, as it may be disrespectful.
- Salut (hello [informal]): Sa-lu. The "lu" is actually a subtle sound that is not common in Spanish; it sounds like "liu" with a very soft "i" sound at first. You can find a good example of pronunciation here.
Step 3. Say your name
After the greeting, you can tell the other person who you are. Again, there are several ways to do this (all of which are listed below). Use only the informal options for friends, family, children, and so on.
- Je m'appelle ______ (My name is ______): yshu ma-pel (your name). Once again, the "ysh" is pronounced similar to the Argentine "y", but with vibration.
- Je suis ______ (I am ______ yshu sui (your name).
- Moi c'est ______ (I am ______ [informal]): mua se (your name).
- Another informal option is to simply say your name after the greeting exchange. This is something like saying, "Hello. Julia." (if your name is Julia) when shaking someone's hand.
Step 4. Listen when the other person introduces himself and then make a polite comment
In Spanish, when you meet someone, you usually end the presentation with "it's a pleasure to meet you", "it's a taste" or another similar phrase. In French it is the same. Use the following phrases to show your pleasure when meeting someone:
- "Ravis de vous connaitre" (nice to meet you): Ra-vi de vu con-net-tr. The sound of the French r is made by lifting the back of the tongue towards the roof of the mouth. The sound that is produced is more delicate and airy than the sound of the r in Spanish.
- "Ravis de vous rencontrer" (nice to meet you): Ra-vi de vu ron-con-tre. The meaning is the same as the previous sentence. Note that the second r is silent.
- Enchanté (enchanted): On-shon-te.
- If the other person says one of these phrases first, use de même (du me-mu) which means "equally".
Method 2 of 2: start a conversation
Step 1. Mention where you are from
This is one of the most common questions among people who meet for the first time. Since you are not a native French speaker, the person you speak to will likely be even more interested in learning about your origins. Use one of the following phrases:
- J'habite à ______ (I live in ______): Ysha-bit a (place).
- Je vis à ______ (I live in ______): Yshu vis a (place).
- Je suis de ______ (I'm from ______): Yshu sui du (place).
- Put the name of your city, state or country in the blank. For example, if you are from the USA, you could say: "Je suis des États-Unis".
Step 2. If appropriate, mention your age
This will not always be a topic of conversation that comes up, but if you are a young person and you know other people older than you, it is good to know how to tell your age. Use the following simple phrase:
- J'ai ___ ans (I am ___ years old): Yshe (number) an. The final n is very delicate, more or less silent.
- Put your age in the blank. Check out our guide to counting in French to help you.
Step 3. Introduce the other people who are with you
Being able to introduce other people is almost as important as being able to introduce yourself, especially if they don't speak French well. Use the following phrases to introduce people you know who you don't know:
- Je vous présente ______ (I introduce you to______): yshu vu pre-sont (name or title).
- Voici ______ (This is ______): Vue-si (name or title).
- After saying the person's name, you may want to describe your relationship with the person in a few words. For example, you could say: "Voici Emma, ma femme" ("This is Emma, my wife").
Step 4. Ask some basic questions
After finishing the introductions, you can start the actual conversation. Here are some basic questions you can have ready; You don't need to have perfect fluency to show that you are interested in learning more about the person you just met.
Comment vous appelez-vous? (What her name?): Co-mont vus e-ple-vu?
D'où êtes-vous? (Where it is?): Du et-vu?
What is your profession? (What do you work on?): Kel e vot-ru pro-fes-ion?
Comment allez-vous? (How are you?): Co-mont a-le-vu?
- When meeting someone for the first time, always use the formal word vous for "you." Don't use the informal word you, but only for children, friends, and loved ones.
- If you are a woman, add an additional e to the end of “enchanté” to form “enchantée”, the feminine form.
- Don't be surprised to get a kiss on both cheeks when meeting a French person. This is not considered rare at all. Usually men shake hands, but men kiss women, women kiss women, and both kiss children. On the contrary, a hug can be seen as something too sentimental.