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Greetings

Speaking good idiomatic French requires not only a sound grasp of grammar and vocabulary, but also a sensitivity to the different registers appropriate to situations. The following lesson is a guideline on courtesy in common situations.

Greetings

Saying Hello

When greeting a stranger or an adult you only slightly know, remember to include the polite title of address: Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle.

When a young woman ceases to be addressed as Mademoiselle, and becomes Madame, and her marital status is unknown, looks to be under or over 20-25 years old, err on the side of caution by using Madame.

For informal or closer acquaintances, it is common to say the name after the greeting.

  • Bonjour, Monsieur Gautier.
  • Bonjour, Anne.

Salut is a familiar greeting, equivalent to “Hi” in English, and much used among young people.

  • Salut, Amandine ! | Hi, Amandine!

An initial greeting is usually accompanied by a handshake if you do not know the person well, or between men. For family and closer friends, particularly two women or a woman and a man, it is usual to faire la bise – to kiss on both cheeks. The number of bises given varies from region to region, two being the minimum, four the maximum – just follow local custom!

Note that the French expect to shake hands or faire la bise not just on a first introduction, but on subsequent meetings. For example, if you work in an office, you usually shake hands with your colleagues every morning and possibly again to say goodbye in the evening.


Thank you to those who share my blog. I notice where people are being referred from, and it just makes me so happy that you all are enjoying what I’m giving you all. So thank you again! And by the way, I am so close to having two hundred posts!!!

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Accepting Apologies

This is part 2 to last week’s Making Apologies post. This week we’ll learn what to say when we accept these apologies.

To accept an apology without reservation:

Ce n’est pas grave. | It doesn’t matter.


Je t’en prie. / Je vous en prie. | Don’t mention it./Forget it.


Il n’y a pas de quoi. | That’s alright.


Ne t’en fais pas. / Ne vous en faites pas. | Don’t worry.


N’en parlons plus. | Let’s forget it.


To accept an apology, but stress that the fault must not happen again:

Ça va, pourvu que tu ne recommences pas. (especially to children) | That’s alright, just don’t do it again.


Je vous excuse, mais vous devriez faire mieux attention à l’avenir. | I forgive you, but you should take more care in the future.


Espérons du moins que cela ne se reproduira pas. | Let’s hope it does not happen again.


Some less formal and more colloquial responses:

Pas de problème ! | No problem!


Il n’y a pas de mal ! | No harm!


Pas de soucis ! No worries!


Very short post this week. I try to bring you guys enough content in each post, so I apologise for the brevity of this post! Look at how I’m apologising on an apologies post (not intentional!). Now what would you say in response? En français. 🙂

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Making Apologies

In French, as in most languages, there are set formulae for making your apologies, and accepting those apologies of someone else.

Apologizing to Friends/Close Colleagues

Simplest form of an apology:

Oh, pardon ! | Sorry!


Je m’excuse ! | My apologies! / I’m sorry!


Je suis désolé(e) ! | I’m really sorry!

Slightly more elaborate ways of apologising and admitting responsibility:

C’est ma faute. Excuse-moi. | It’s my fault. Sorry.


Je m’en veux beaucoup. | I’m really cross with myself for it.


J’espère que tu ne m’en veux pas / ne m’en voudras pas. | I hope you’re not too upset with me.


Je suis désolé(e) de t’avoir dérangé. | I’m really sorry to have disturbed you.

There are ways to apologise and also suggest that you are not entirely to blame. You would use “Je suis désolé(e)” and one of the following examples:

Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès. | I didn’t do it on purpose/deliberately.


Je ne pouvais pas faire autrement. | I had to./There was nothing else I could do.


J’essayais simplement de vous aider. | I was only trying to help you.


Je n’avais pas le choix. | I didn’t have a choice.


More formal apologies in conversation:

Brief apology:

  • Oh, pardonnez-moi ! (ex: if you accidentally bumped into someone or stepped on their foot) | Oh, I’m sorry!
  • Excusez-moi ! (ex: when you’ve done something wrong) | I’m sorry. / My apologies.
  • C’est moi le coupable. | It’s my fault. / I’m to blame.

Come back next week for part two of this post, “Accepting Apologies”. As always, if you have a request or a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to help. 🙂 Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Misused Phrases

As with anything, there are phrases in French that often get misused, or are just used incorrectly – perhaps with the idea that something literally translates the same from your native language to French. It happens, but that’s why I’m here to help.

“Bonne nuit” to say “goodbye”

This phrase does mean “good night”, but, unless you are actually heading off to bed, you should actually use the phrase “bon soir”, which means “good evening”.

Using “garçon” for “waiter”

It is terribly offensive to call your waiter “garçon”. Instead, please say “Excusez-moi, monsieur/madam.” to get your waiter’s attention.

Saying “Je suis excité(e)” to say you’re excited

This actually means that you are sexually aroused. If that’s the actual case, then by all means, you may use that! Otherwise, you should said “J’en ai hâte” which means “I can’t wait”, or “J’ai hâte __” which means “I look forward to __”. Another good and simple phrase you could use is just simply “Je suis très heureux/heureuse” (“I am very happy”).

Saying “Je suis chaud(e)/froid(e)” to say you’re hot/cold

“Je suis chaud(e)” means “I’m horny”. And similarly, “Je suis froid(e)” actually means you’re frigid! When you’re feeling a certain temperature, always use avoir to indicate this. “J’ai chaud(e)/froid(e)”.

Saying “Je suis plein(e)” to say you’re full

Saying it this way actually means “I am pregnant”. Instead you should opt for “J’ai fini”, which means “I’m done”, or “J’ai assez/trop mangé”, meaning “I ate enough/too much”.

Don’t ask for change saying “J’ai besoin de change”

Don’t use the above phrase if you need change for a large bill. Whomever you say this to may think you need a change of clothing. Instead use “J’ai besoin de monnaie” (“I need change”.) Or you can also use “J’ai besoin de faire du change”.

Don’t say “Je suis…ans” to tell your age

Always use avoir when stating your age. “J’ai…ans”… “I have…years”. The phrase above is just incorrect grammar.

Using the verb “visiter” in reference to people

The verb visiter (to visit) is used for places and monument, sightseeing. It is not to be used to say you are visiting people. Instead, say “Je vais voir…” (“I am going to see…”), or “…rendre visite à…” which is used to visit people.


Let me know if you like posts like this and I will make more!

Have an amazing week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Etiquette – French Dining

Etiquette – French Dining

A first etiquette post! For those of you who have never dined in a restaurant in France and are planning on it in the future, please take a look at these phrases to use while dining in France.

If you didn’t know, dining in France is an experience and is quite different than dining in any other country. Just like anywhere, always always always remember your manners!

Je voudrais une table pour ____ personne(s).

  • I would like a table for ____ person/people.
  • May I have a table for ____ person/people.

La carte, s’il vous plaît.*

  • A menu, please.
  • May I have a menu, please?

*Never have I ever been to a restaurant in France that didn’t give me the menu straight away. But it’s always good to know the right way to ask, just in case.

Pourrais-j’avoir la carte boissons, s’il vous plaît ?

  • May I have the drink menu, please?
  • Could I have the drink menu, please?

Avez-vous des plats végétariens ?

  • Do you have vegetarian meals?

Un autre, s’il vous plaît.

  • One more, please.

Je voudrais une carafe d’eau.

  • I would like tap water.*

*You can also as for tap water the same way and use “tap water”. Most waiters know the phrase “tap water”. (You may also say plate (flat) as well, or even gaseuse (bubbly).)

Acceptez-vous les cartes de crédit ?

  • Do you accept credit cards?

C’était très bon !

  • It was very good!

L’addition, s’il vous plaît !*

  • Check, please!

*Restaurants in France, you always request your bill at the end of the mean when you are ready for it. The wait staff does not push the bill on you, it’s considered rude.

Enjoy your meals in France! Remember to always say s’il vous plaît and merci. And always, always remember to tip your waiter/waitress.

If you are curious about any other types of French etiquette, please don’t hesitate to request something!

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

For further reading, please head over to my fellow blogger’s posts on how to interact with a Parisian waiter, and what not to do in a French restaurant.

Happy reading!