Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 34): la politesse – les usages (part un)


In French, polite expressions like madame or monsieur are added with their given name. If you do not know someone, you can simply say:

Bonjour(madame/monsieur/Isabelle) in the morning; and
Bonsoir, in the evening.

If the person is familiar and close to you (a friend, for example):

– Bonjour/Bonsoir, mon cher Antonio! Good morning/Good evening, my dear Antonio!
(Note: Mon cher is used for the male person, ma chère for female.)
– Bonjour Bénédicte, comment vas-tu? Good morning Benedict, how are you?
(Note: In formal terms, use comment allez-vous? instead. Literally, both can also mean “how is it going?”)
– Bien, merci, et toi? (I am) good, thanks. And you?
– Ça va bien, merci. (I am) doing good, thanks.

In direct, quick situations:
– Salut, Mathilde, ça va? Hello, Mathilde, how is it going?
(Note: Salut is also used as an expression equally of bonjour and au revoir.)
– Tiens, salut! Ça va, merci, et toi? Hey, hello! (I’m) OK, and you?
– Ça va! OK!
(Note: In literal meaning, ça va is “how is it going?”)

Vous is used when the person is not familiar (and also most likely, demands respect) and it is used with expressions monsieur or madame. Tu is used when the person is younger, or is familiar and close to you. Nonetheless, if you are not sure what to use, it is safest to use vous to remain polite and courteous to others.

To make presentation in a professional situation:
– Je vous présente Florence Dusapin, notre nouvelle responsible de marketing. I present, Florence Dusapin, our new marketing officer.
– Bonjour, madame, enchanté. Good morning, madame, (I’m) delighted.
– Enchantée, monsieur. (I’m) delighted, monsieur.

In friendly context:
– Nicolas, est-ce que tu connais ma copine Émilie? Nicolas, do you know my friend, Emilie?
– Non, pas encore. Bonjour, Émilie. No, not yet. Hello, Emilie.
– Bonjour, Nicolas. Hello, Nicolas.

In giving gestures in France, most men give handshakes (un serrement de main) as they say Bonjour or Au revoir with each other. Either they are close as a family member or friend, or colleague at work, women embrace (embrasser) each other, or they give kisses (un bisou) on the cheeks alternately (three to four times they kiss alternately on the cheeks!). Adults embrace young chldren as the children say formal greetings.

To welcome someone:

Entrez, je vous en prie! Je peux prendre votre manteau? Come in, please! Can I take your coat?

– Ça me fait plaisir de vous voir! Asseyez-vous, je vous en prie! It makes me happy to see you. Sit down, please!

– Je suis content de te voir! Assieds-toi! I’m glad to see you! You sit!

To apologize to someone:

– Oh, pardon, madame. Je suis désolé! Oh, sorry, madam. I’m sorry!
– Ce n’est rien, monsieur! It’s nothing, sir!

Excusez-moi, monsieur! Je suis désolée d’être en retard! Excuse me, sir! I’m sorry for being late.
– Je vous en prie, ce n’est pas grave. I beg you, do not worry.

To request something and thank someone after the request is granted:

Pardon, madame, vous pouvez me dire où est la poste, s’il vous plaît? Sorry, madam, can you tell me where the post office, please?
– Oui, monsieur. C’est au bout de la rue, à droite. Yes, sir. It’s at the end of the street, right.
Je vous remercie, madame. Thank you, madam.
Je vous en prie, monsieur. I beg you, sir.

– Tu peux me prêter 1EURO, s’il te plaît? Can you lend me 1 Euro, please?
– Oui, bien sûr! Yes, of course!
– Merci beaucoup! Thanks a lot!
– De rien! (It’s) nothing!

To congratulate or greet someone:

– Félicitations! Touts me félicitations! Congratulations! All my congratulations!
– Je suis vraiment content(e) pour toi/vous! I’m really happy for you!
– Bravo! Well done!

Tous mes voeux de bonheur! (pour un mariage) All my wishes of happiness! (for marriage)

To feel sorry for someone:

À l’annonce d’une mauvaise nouvelle: At the announcement of bad news:
– Tu sais, je n’ai plus de travail. You know, I’m out of work.
– Oh, mon pauvre Marc! Ma pauvre Solange! Tu n’as pas de chance! Oh, poor Marc! My poor Solange! You have no chance!

À l’announce d’une horrible nouvelle: In an announcement of a horrible news:
– Vous avez que nous avons perdu un enfant? You have lost a child?
– Oh mon Dieu, c’est terrible, c’est affreux, ce n’est pas possible! Je suis désolé(e) pour vous! Oh my God, it’s terrible, it’s awful, it’s not possible! I’m sorry for you!

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2 Responses to Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 34): la politesse – les usages (part un)

  1. Pingback: Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 82): communication et savoir-faire, les sommaires (premiere partie) « coffeechat with perkyperps

  2. Pingback: Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 82): communication et savoir-faire, les sommaires (premiere partie) « coffeechat

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