French of the Week: The Art of Saying Bonjour!

IMG_0597There’s nothing worse that arriving in a new country for business or pleasure and not knowing how to communicate with the culture. Sure, the majority of the world can speak English, but wouldn’t it be great to plant your feet in a country and at least get your way to the hotel? Or maybe find the bathroom?

These days there are so many ways to get the info you need with cell phone apps and electronic devices that can do the translating for you. What if you can’t connect? What if your service is having trouble or you ordered the wrong international plan and all of a sudden you’re facing a $1,500 phone bill?? In the next few weeks, I’ll help you get what you need to make sure you won’t be 100% stranded. Later, I’ll post more words and phrases related to food and cooking to impress your friends, but for now, lets get the basics down.

This week:  The initial greeting: Bonjour! 

I bet you’re laughing. Seriously? This girl is telling me about a word that everyone knows?! CLICK (as you aggravatingly click away to something more useful). The fact is this:  the French take saying hello VERY seriously. Here in the States, no matter how laid back you think your state is, we don’t always say hello. We walk up to the shelf stocker at the supermarket and bark, “Where do I find the breadcrumbs!?” or we immediately scream to the waitress, “I’ll have an arnold palmer and a water please.” No “Hi, how are you” or simple “hello.” In France, if you act like that, you’ll likely be given wrong directions or made a fool in some way that keeps you thinking how much the French hate Americans.  The lesson here is simple: Say BONJOUR! You don’t need to follow with a “how are you” or similar statement, just say hello.  How? Here’s the breakdown:

Bonjour | boh-ZHOOR | Literally translated as “good day.” The formal means of saying hello.

Bon soir | boh-swahr | Good evening.  Appropriate to greet if it is after 5pm. Saying “bonjour” at an evening hour might incur some bizarre looks.

Bonne journée | bohnn-zhoor-neigh | More of a parting greet translated as farewell, if departing in the day time.

Bonne soiree | bohnn-swahr-eigh | Similar to bonne journée for the after 5pm crowd.

Salut | sahl-00 | The informal greeting or “Hi” as we know it in English. Not to be used with strangers, so keep this one as a bonus amongst yourselves.

Post your comments, questions, and requests in the sections below! I’d love to hear from you and am happy to answer more questions, as you need them!

À votre santé!


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