Lesson 01 - Comment vas-tu ? / How are you?

Comment vas-tu ? / How are you?

Lesson Audio

Transcript

Comment vas-tu ?

  1. Bonjour !
  2. Salut !
  3. Comment vas-tu ?
  4. Je vais bien, merci.
  5. Est-ce que tu as quelque chose de prévu aujourd'hui ?
  6. Oui. Je vais retrouver des amis.
  7. Est-ce que je peux venir aussi ?
  8. Ce serait super !

Grammar Notes

  • This is the general way of greeting someone.
  • This is the informal way of greeting someone, often an acquaintance or friend.
  • When a French adult speaker wants to say "you" to someone, he uses "tu" if he's close to the person or if this person is introduced by a close friend or relative. Otherwise, he uses "vous." The formal way to make a statement into a question is to reverse the subject and the verb and put a hyphen (-) between.
  • To say "to be fine," French doesn't use "être" (to be) but "aller" (to go). "Bien" (well) is also used to translate "fine"as in "I'm fine."
  • In French, using "est-ce que" (literally, is it that) also makes a statement into a question; this is the most common way to ask a question.
  • To express something that will be done in the near future, the French language uses the verb "aller" (to go) followed by a verb, as in English "I'm going to … ." In other contexts, "retrouver" means "to find back."
  • While in English one has to put "to" before a verb to make the infinitive, in French the infinitive is a word in its own right: "aller" (to go),"retrouver" (to meet), etc. There is no comma before "aussi" (too) at the end of questions in French.
  • In French, "super" sounds less familiar than in English. Other translations of "great" in this context include "génial" or "vraiment bien" (really good).

Lesson Vocabulary

  • bonjour = hello (formal)
  • salut = hi (informal)
  • comment = how
  • tu; vous (formal/plural) = you
  • bien = fine
  • je vais bien = I’m fine
  • merci = thank you
  • tu as (informal) ; vous avez (formal, plural) = you have
  • aujourd'hui = today
  • oui = yes
  • retrouver = to meet
  • amis = friends
  • retrouver des amis = meet friends
  • Est-ce que je peux = can I
  • venir = come
  • aussi = too
  • ce = that
  • serait = would be
  • super! = great!

Translation

How are you?

  1. Hello!
  2. Hi!
  3. How are you?
  4. I'm fine, thank you.
  5. Do you have plans today?
  6. Yes. I'm going to meet some friends.
  7. Can I come, too?
  8. That would be great!

Translation (Literal)

How are you going?

  1. Hello!
  2. Hi!
  3. How go you?
  4. I go well, thank you.
  5. Is it that you have something of planned today?
  6. Yes. I go to-meet some friends.
  7. Is is that I can to-come, too?
  8. This would-be great!

Cultural Notes

01 – Showing Respect in Greetings

A common perception of French people is that they are informal, but their day-to-day greetings prove otherwise. Whether just greeting a passerby in an elevator, shopping, communicating in an office, or asking a stranger for assistance, each setting requires quite a formal level of greeting. For instance, when addressing someone, you shouldn't just say "Bonjour;" you should add a gendered title, such as "Monsieur" or "Madame" every time you want to say hello to someone.

Consumers in a small shop or hotel breakfast room may use "Bonne journée" ("Have a good day") or "Bonne soirée" ("Have a good evening"). Even more, a reply, such as "Merci" or "Je vous remercie" ("Thank you") is expected when someone wishes you a nice day. In offices, people might say "Goodbye" with "Bonne journée" and "Bonne soirée," and this is true even when you split at the elevators. Lastly, you most likely won't wear out "thank you," or "merci," so don't be afraid to say these magic words. The French consider it an important indication of respect to say "s'il vous plaît," which translates to "please" or "if it pleases you."

If you meet a person who has a distinguished title, such as a retired ambassador, be sure to address him or her appropriately. "Monsieur l'Ambassadeur" will suffice. Additionally, the head of a company should be addressed with "Monsieur le Président" or "Madame la Présidente."

Asking for assistance is fine in France, as long as you remember proper etiquette when you ask. It's important not to interrupt a stranger without saying "Excusez-moi de vous déranger" (“Excuse me for interrupting you"). Also, add "j'ai un petit problème" ("I have a small problem"). For help or support, you should ask "Est-ce que vous pourriez m’aider?" (Could you help me?").

Discussion

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