When it comes to greeting your fellow French speakers, there are numerous ways to inquire about their well-being. Asking someone ‘how are you’ in French can make our conversation go a long way. Explore different ways to inquire about people so you can choose the right expression.
In this post, we will show you how to ask someone in French how they are doing. So, the next time you greet your French friends, you will have more options than “comment ça va?”
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How to ask ‘how are you’ in French
1. Comment allez-vous? – “How are you?”
One of the first phrases you’ll learn when you open almost any French language learning resource is comment allez-vous, which translates as “how are you doing?” It is by far one of the most well-known French phrases for inquiring about someone’s health.
The good thing about comment allez-vous is that it is the safest and most polite of all French greetings. It can be used in almost any situation. In addition to the formal meaning of “how are you?” in French, it can also be used to ask a group of people. It comes in handy in a variety of situations.
2. Comment ça va? – “How’s it going?”
This is less formal than comment allez-vous, but it’s still a safe bet if you are not sure what level of formality you should use. It literally means “how is it going?” but translates to “how are you?” or “how’s it going?”
3. Vous allez bien? – “Are you well?”
When you see someone you know and want to check in on them beyond the standard “how are you?” use you allez bien, to ask if they are doing well. It is “you go well?” word for word, but what you are really asking is “are you well?”
Again, the formal vous rather than tu is used. If you want to ask this informally, it’s tu vas bien?
4. Ça va? – “How’s it going?”
Although we’re moving into more informal territory now, this expression can still be used in a variety of contexts. It’s not so casual that it should be reserved for friends and family, but in explicitly formal situations, stick with either of the first two questions. Even though it literally translates as “it goes?” this expression still means “how are you?”
It is worth noting that the majority of French expressions for asking how someone is use the verb aller (“to go”) rather than être (“to be”).
5. Comment vous sentez-vous? – “How are you feeling?”
If you know someone who has been feeling under the weather, this is a good way to check in with them. This expression is used in formal situations or when asking multiple people.
If you only want to ask one friend or close acquaintance, you say comment tu te sens? You can also learn French terms of endearment to show your special ones that you are concerned about their health and well-being.
6. Quoi de neuf? – “What’s new?”
This is one of the more casual ways to ask someone how they are in French. It literally translates to “what’s new?”
7. Ça gaze? – “What’s up?”
This is a very informal expression that is best used with friends or family. It’s a little out of date, but it can still be a fun way to start a conversation or make your friends laugh because they are amused that you picked this one up.
8. Quoi de beau? – “What’s beautiful?”
The French have a fondness for using the word “beautiful” in a surprising number of contexts. You might hear it in Que fais-tu de beau dans ta vie? (Literally: “what do you do that is beautiful in life?”) For “what do you do for a living?” and il fait beau (literally “it’s lovely”) for “the weather is lovely.”
It’s also in the phrase Quoi de beau? For asking someone how they are doing.
9. Ça roule? – “It’s rolling?”
When you want to ask a friend how they are and, more specifically, how a particular situation or task is going, you can use the phrase “ça roule?” It literally means “it’s rolling,” but it is a fun way to casually check in on someone.
10. Ça baigne? – “It bathes?”
It translates to “it bathes?” it is another informal way to ask how someone is doing.
Now that you know how to ask ‘how are you’ in French, there are several ways to respond when someone asks you how are you doing. Knowing how to respond is also important as it holds prime importance in day-to-day conversations.
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How to respond to “how are you?” in French
1. Bien, merci! – “Good, thanks!”
The standard French response to “how are you?” is bien, merci! (“Excellent, thank you”). It is courteous and keeps the conversation going. You can add a little extra oomph by adding très to the front to say très bien, merci, or “very well, thanks.”
2. Ça va – “It goes”
This is another common response to “how are you?” particularly if the question is phrased as “comment ça va?” or “ça va?” It’s brief and to the point, but still polite enough for most situations.
3. Comme ci, comme ça – “Okay”
If you are neither great nor bad, you might be “like this, like that” in French. Comme ci, comme ça is a fun way to let the person you are chatting with, know that everything is fine.
4. Tout va bien – “All good”
This expression literally means “everything is fine,” and it can be used to say “everything is fine” in both formal and informal situations.
5. Ça pourrait être pire – “it could be worse”
If you want to be more realistic or even humorous in your response, you could use ça pourrait être pire (“it could be worse”). To make it more colloquial, add a bof to the beginning to say bof, ça pourrait être pire, which translates as “meh, it could be worse.”
Frequently asked questions
Q. How do you respond to ca va?
A. As with English, French people tend to reply to Ça va? With a positive response – Bien, or Bien, merci – much the same way as we would use fine in English. The following responses are polite enough for a new acquaintance, but general enough for a good friend, too: Très bien, merci. Very well, thank you.
Q. How to say I’m fine in French?
A. Ca va. / Ca va bien.
There are several formal and informal ways to say ‘how are you’ in French. Choose the right expression when you inquire about the health of a friend, family member, boss, or colleague.
Learning French is not tough if you remain organized and consistent in your learning approach. Mastering different phrases such as thank you, you are welcome in French, congratulations, sorry and I love you in French take you a big step closer to becoming a fluent French speaker.
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