How Are You in French: Your First Step in Conversing

Grover Laughton11 min
Created: May 15, 2024Last updated: May 16, 2024
How Are You in French

Talking and chatting come naturally to us. But does it feel the same when we swap our local tongue for French? Take greetings and courtesy phrases as examples. There’s more than one way to ask How are you in French. Each could be appropriate in different situations, ranging from a casual setting to more formal circumstances. With our guide, you’ll learn basic and more complex phrases with examples, their uses, and responses to them.

Basic Expressions in French for How Are You

Asking ‘How are you’ is among the top French words and phrases to know. The language has several ways to do it. The situation determines which phrase you can use. You need different words for your friends and boss, for example. Let’s see some basic expressions and learn when to use them:

  • Comment vas-tu? [kɔ.mɑ̃ va ty] – How are you? (informal). It is suitable for friends or people your age.

Comment vas-tu aujourd’hui? – [kɔ.mɑ̃ va ty o.ʒuʁ.dɥi] – How are you today?

  • Bonjour, comment allez-vous? [bɔ̃ʒuʁ kɔ.mɑ̃‿ta.le vu] – Hello, how are you? (formal). This French ‘Hello, how are you’ phrase is appropriate for speaking with someone in a respectful way.

Bonjour, Madame. Comment allez-vous? – [bɔ̃.ʒuʁ ma.dam kɔ.mɑ̃‿ta.le vu] – Hello, Madam. How are you?

  • Ça va? [sa va] – How’s it going? Use this phrase with close friends. 

Salut, ça va? – [ sa va] – Hi, how’s it going?

  • Quoi de neuf? [kwa də nœf] – What’s new? This question asks if there is anything new happening.

Hé, quoi de neuf? – [e kwa də nœf] – Hey, what’s new?

  • Tout va bien? [tu va bjɛ̃] – Is everything alright? This phrase can be used to check in on someone’s well-being.

Bonsoir, tout va bien chez vous? – [bɔ̃.swaʁ tu va bjɛ̃ ʃe vu] – Good evening, is everything alright with you?

  • Comment ça se passe? [kɔ.mɑ̃ sa sə pas] – How’s it going? It is used to inquire about someone’s general state or how things are going in their life.

Alors, comment ça se passe à l’école? – [a.lɔʁ kɔ.mɑ̃ sa sə pas a le.kɔl] – So, how’s it going at school?

Saying How Are You in French: Formal Ways

When approaching a stranger or greeting a senior in French, you’ll need a proper phrase. Using the right form of words shows respect in their culture. Such expressions typically involve more complex structures and formal vocabulary. Here’s how do you say ‘How are you’ in French formal settings:

  • Comment vous portez-vous? [kɔ.mɑ̃ vu pɔʁ.te vu] – How are you doing? (very formal). Often used in very polite or official conversations.

Madame, comment vous portez-vous depuis notre dernière rencontre? – [ma.dam, kɔ.mɑ̃ vu pɔʁ.te vu də.pɥi nɔtʁ dɛʁ.njɛʁ ʁɑ̃.kɔ̃tʁ] – Madam, how have you been since our last meeting?

  • Comment va votre santé? [kɔ.mɑ̃ va vɔ.tʁ sã.te] – How is your health? It is typically used to inquire specifically about someone’s health, showing concern in a formal manner.

Nous n’avons pas eu de nouvelles, comment va votre santé? – [nu na.vɔ̃ pa z‿ø də nu.vɛl, kɔ.mɑ̃ va vɔ.tʁ sã.te] – We haven’t heard from you, how is your health?

  • Quelles nouvelles? [kɛl nu.vɛl] – Any news? Utilized to inquire generally about any updates in a respectful manner.

Bonjour, quelles nouvelles depuis notre dernière réunion? – [bɔ̃.ʒuʁ, kɛl nu.vɛl də.pɥi nɔ.tʁ dɛʁ.njɛʁ re.y.njɔ̃] – Hello, any news since our last meeting?

  • Comment s’est passé votre journée? [kɔ.mɑ̃ sɛ vɔ.tʁ ʒuʁ.ne] – How did your day go? This question is suitable for later in the day and reflects a polite interest in the person’s activities.

Bonsoir, comment s’est passé votre journée? – [bɔ̃.swaʁ, kɔ.mɑ̃ sɛ vɔ.tʁ ʒuʁ.ne] – Good evening, how did your day go?

  • Comment se porte votre famille? [kɔ.mɑ̃ sə pɔʁt vɔ.tʁ fa.mij] – How is your family doing? Asking about someone’s family is a common way to show concern in a formal setting.

J’espère que tout va bien, comment se porte votre famille? – [ʒɛs.pɛʁ kə tu va bjɛ̃, kɔ.mɑ̃ sə pɔʁt vɔ.tʁ fa.mij] – I hope all is well, how is your family doing?

  • Vous vous en sortez bien? [vu vu z‿ɑ̃ sɔʁ.te bjɛ̃] – Are you managing okay? This query is a bit more personal and shows a deeper level of concern, suitable for someone you know is facing challenges.

Avec tout ce travail, vous vous en sortez bien? – [a.vɛk tu sə tʁa.vaj, vu vu z‿ɑ̃ sɔʁ.te bjɛ̃] – With all this work, are you managing okay?

  • Va-t-il/elle bien? [va t‿il/ɛl bjɛ̃] – Is he/she doing well? When inquiring about a third party in a polite manner, this question is particularly respectful.

Comment va-t-il depuis son retour de voyage? – [kɔ.mɑ̃ va t‿il də.pɥi sɔ̃ ʁə.tuʁ də vwa.jaʒ] – How is he doing since his return from the trip?

  • Avez-vous des projets pour le weekend? [ vu de pʁɔ.ʒɛ puʁ lə wi.kɛnd] – Do you have any plans for the weekend? This question is a gentle and polite way to show interest in personal but non-intrusive details.

Avez-vous des projets pour le prochain weekend? – [ vu de pʁɔ.ʒɛ puʁ lə pʁɔ.ʃɛ̃ wi.kɛnd] – Do you have any plans for the upcoming weekend?


Casual Greetings: Ways to Say How Are You in Informal French

When it comes to conversations with friends, family, or close acquaintances, French offers more relaxed phrases. There’s a different vibe and tone in these casual expressions. Below, we will highlight some informal ways to ask How are you in French informal conversation:

  • Tu vas bien? [ty va bjɛ̃] – You doing okay? Often used among friends to check in on someone’s well-being in a casual way.

Coucou, tu vas bien? – [ku.ku, ty va bjɛ̃] – Hey, you doing okay?

  • T’es en forme? [tɛ ɑ̃ fɔʁm] – You feeling good? Casually asking if someone is feeling good or in high spirits.

Salut! T’es en forme aujourd’hui? – [! tɛ ɑ̃ fɔʁm‿o.ʒuʁ.dɥi] – Hi! You feeling good today?

  • Ça roule? [sa ʁul] – Everything rolling? A very informal and friendly way to ask if everything is going well.

Hey, ça roule chez toi? – [eɪ, sa ʁul ʃe twa] – Hey, everything rolling with you?

  • Ça gaze? [sa gaz] – Is it gassing? Another slang term similar to Ça roule? [sa ʁul] indicating if things are going smoothly.

Eh, ça gaze aujourd’hui? – [e, sa gaz‿o.ʒuʁ.dɥi] – Hey, is it gassing today?

  • On va bien? [ɔ̃ va bjɛ̃] – Are we good? This inclusive phrase is great for checking the group’s mood in a casual setting.

Salut les amis, on va bien? – [ le.z‿a.mi, ɔ̃ va bjɛ̃] – Hi friends, are we good?

  • Ça baigne? [sa bɛɲ] – Everything’s swimming? A very colloquial and laid-back expression that asks if everything is going well.

Ça baigne pour toi? – [sa bɛɲ puʁ twa] – Everything’s swimming for you?

  • Comment ça va? [kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va] – How is it going? A slightly more elaborate form of ‘How are you’ in French used to show a bit more concern.

Comment ça va depuis hier? – [kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va də.pɥi jɛʁ] – How’s it going since yesterday?

  • Tout cool? [tu kul] – All cool? A slangy, youthful way of asking if everything is cool or okay.

Salut mec, tout cool? – [ mɛk, tu kul] – (Hi dude, all cool?)

  • Tu t’en sors? [ty tɑ̃ sɔʁ] – You managing? Used to ask someone if they are managing their situation well, particularly if they’ve been facing challenges.

Avec tout ce boulot, tu t’en sors? – [a.vɛk tu sə bu.lo, ty tɑ̃ sɔʁ] – With all this work, you managing?

Responses to ‘How Are You’ in French

The phrase Cómo se va in French is just part of the conversation. Responding accurately and appropriately contributes to good communication. We will look at popular answers to these greetings in French. By learning a few responses, you can make sure your French chats flow well:

  • Ça va bien. [sa va bjɛ̃] – I’m doing well. A simple and positive response indicating that things are going well.

Oui, ça va bien, merci. – [wi, sa va bjɛ̃, mɛʁ.si] – Yes, I’m doing well, thank you.

  • Comme ci, comme ça. [kɔm si, kɔm sa] – So-so. Used when things are neither good nor bad, showing a neutral state.

Comment ça va? Comme ci, comme ça. – [kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va? kɔm si, kɔm sa] – How’s it going? So-so.

  • Pas mal. [pa mal] – Not bad. This response implies that things are quite satisfactory without being too enthusiastic.

Ça va, pas mal. – [sa va, pa mal] – It’s going, not bad.

  • Je suis fatigué(e). [ʒə sɥi] – I’m tired. Expresses that you are feeling tired at the moment.

Comment vas-tu? Je suis fatigué(e). – [kɔ.mɑ̃ va ty? ʒə sɥi] – How are you? I’m tired.

  • Tout va mal. [tu va mal] – Everything is going badly. A response used when things are not going well at all.

Malheureusement, tout va mal en ce moment. – [mal.œ.ʁøz.mɑ̃, tu va mal ɑ̃ sə mɔ.mɑ̃] – Unfortunately, everything is going badly at the moment.

  • Je vais super! [ʒə ve sy.pɛʁ] – I’m doing great! Indicates a very positive state, showing that you’re more than just fine.

Et toi, comment ça va? Moi, je vais super! – [e twa, kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va? mwa, ʒə ve sy.pɛʁ] – And you, how’s it going? I’m doing great!

  • Je ne me sens pas très bien. [ʒə nə mə sɑ̃ pa tʁɛ bjɛ̃] – I’m not feeling very well. Use this when you are feeling unwell or under the weather.

Aujourd’hui, je ne me sens pas très bien. – [o.ʒuʁ.dɥi, ʒə nə mə sɑ̃ pa tʁɛ bjɛ̃] – Today, I’m not feeling very well.

  • Tout va pour le mieux. [tu va puʁ lə mjø] – Everything is for the best. A formal way to express that everything is going exceptionally well.

Comment allez-vous? Tout va pour le mieux, merci. – [kɔ.mɑ̃‿ta.le vu? tu va puʁ lə mjø, mɛʁ.si] – How are you? Everything is for the best, thank you.

  • Je suis débordé(e). [ʒə sɥi de.bɔʁ.de] – I’m overwhelmed. Used in a formal context when you’re very busy or swamped.

Merci de demander; je suis débordé(e) en ce moment. – [mɛʁ.si də də.mɑ̃.de; ʒə sɥi de.bɔʁ.de ɑ̃ sə mɔ.mɑ̃] – Thank you for asking; I’m overwhelmed at the moment.

  • Ça pourrait aller mieux. [sa pu.ʁɛ a.le mjø] – It could be better. An informal and somewhat casual response indicating that things aren’t great.

Ça va? Ça pourrait aller mieux. – [sa va? sa pu.ʁɛ a.le mjø] – How’s it going? It could be better.

  • Je suis sous l’eau. [ʒə sɥi su l‿o] – I’m swamped (literally: I’m underwater). Informal, vivid imagery to express being very busy or overwhelmed.

Tu vas comment? Je suis sous l’eau avec tout ce travail. – [ty va kɔ.mɑ̃? ʒə sɥi su l‿o a.vɛk tu sə tʁa.vaj] – How are you doing? I’m swamped with all this work.

  • En pleine forme! [ɑ̃ plɛn fɔʁm] – In great shape! Informal and enthusiastic, indicating excellent health or spirit.

Salut, comment ça va? Moi, en pleine forme! – [, kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va? mwa, ɑ̃ plɛn fɔʁm] – Hi, how’s it going? Me, in great shape!

  • Je tiens le coup. [ʒə tjɛ̃ lə ku] – I’m holding up. An informal way to say you’re managing or getting by despite difficulties.

Et toi, ça va? Je tiens le coup, merci. – [e twa, sa va? ʒə tjɛ̃ lə ku, mɛʁ.si] – And you, how is it? I’m holding up, thank you.

  • Je suis comme un lion en cage. [ʒə sɥi kɔm œ̃ ljɔ̃ ɑ̃ kaʒ] – I feel like a caged lion. An informal, expressive way to say you’re feeling restless or confined.

Comment tu te sens? Je suis comme un lion en cage avec ce confinement. – [kɔ.mɑ̃ ty tə sɑ̃? ʒə sɥi kɔm œ̃ ljɔ̃ ɑ̃ kaʒ a.vɛk sə kɔ̃.fin.mɑ̃] – How are you feeling? I feel like a caged lion with this lockdown.

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Learning how to say Hi, how are you in French is one of the next things after grasping the French alphabet. Understanding someone’s state of being is a key part of any talk. With many expressions to choose from, you can match the level of formality needed. Also, the right answer will keep the conversation going. So, learn the phrases that best fit each situation, and you’ll be ready for any French chat.


Is there a polite way to end a small talk in French?

To end a conversation politely, one might say, Merci de m’avoir donné de vos nouvelles, au revoir! [mɛʁ.si də ma.vwaʁ dɔ.ne də vo nu.vɛl, o ʁə.vwaʁ], which means Thank you for updating me, goodbye!

Is it common to skip formalities and directly start a conversation in France?

It is uncommon to skip formalities when starting a conversation, especially in professional or unfamiliar settings. Among close friends or in very casual settings, chats may start more directly.

What are some common mistakes beginners make when asking ‘How are you?’ in French?

Beginners often confuse the levels of formality or use textbook expressions that may not align with naturally spoken French.

What resources can help with learning French vocabulary?

Consider using online dictionaries like Larousse and Collins. They offer comprehensive definitions, synonyms, pronunciation guides, and example sentences.