For beginners : to be polite in French and idioms to begin

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Here I introduce you some ways, words to be polite when you are speaking French. You have to be taught on French accent, words, a variety of French expressions, the conjugation rules , the grammar rules, the nouns, the variety of content to read, different topics to study, support with translation,… To learn French you can also use an app, an app like Duolingo or Mosalingua, to teach yourself you can as well meet French native speakers online.

Let us begin with …

To be able to speak in a polite way to someone

Usually, in France when we meet someone, the French people says Bonjour (Hi, Hello) before talking about a subject, before saying more, and this is not a joke, if you do not do it like this you will be considered as a rude person, in a certain way you need to do it at the beginning of a talk.

The difference between the words tu (you) and vous (you)

That is a huge difference with the English language, because in English there is just one word the word « you « , so the politeness is not related to this word. You say « you » to your colleague at work and to your friends. A very important point related to politeness in French is the difference between tu and vous. It is a very basic point. A lot of English people are confused everytime, so if you get this it is a very nice point for your trip in a French speaking country or in France.

 InformalFormal
SingularTUVOUS
PluralVOUSVOUS

When you write it you need to pay attention to how you agree it with the verbs (conjugation), the adjectives, the pronouns,… We talk about a moment in which just two people are involved, we do not talk about a group.

Tu is informal and singular, and the word vous is formal, and it could be plural (if you talk to several people). You use the word vous if you are talking to several people, it is not related to the type of relationship. But you have to use the right one when you are talking to a single person.

Let us see an example :
Hi sir, how are you ? → Bonjour monsieur, comment allez-vous ?
Hi, man, how is it going ? → Salut mec, comment tu vas ?     

TU

It is informal and singular, you can use it when you are talking to a friend, or in the family, friends, lovers, colleagues, classmates, flatmates,… When the children and the teenagers meet each others they use the word tu. We use tu as well in these situations : when an adult talk to a children and when we talk to an animal.

VOUS

You use it to show respect and you use it as well between two people they do not know each other. You use it in professional situations : with your colleagues at work, with the boss, between people they do not know each other, between a patient and a doctor, between a client and a seller, a pupil and a professor. It is plural as well, so you use it when you are talking to several people at the same time such as family, a group of people,…

A few words and little sentences to know

ça va ? (How is it going ?)

This is the first thing that people says just after saying Salut or Salut-ça va ?. You use it to ask to someone how does he/she feels, how he/she is keeping, how things are. Usually people reply ça va (I am ok), sometimes they reply ça va pas (I am not ok), which means things are not good.

Bonjour (Hi, hello)

Everyone says bonjour, if you do not say it when you meet someone you will be considered as a rude person. It is formal and informal, you can use it with everyone : friends, family, colleagues of work, … If you know well people you can replace it by the word salut. The word salut can be used as bonjour or au revoirI (bye).

Comment vous appelez-vous ? Comment est-ce que vous vous appelez ? (What is your name ?) 

It is one of the first question you ask when you meet someone. The answer is Je m’appelle… (my name is…). When you use the word tu the question is Comment t’appelles-tu ?.

S’il vous plaît / s’il te plaît (Please)

To not to be considered as rude in France, when you ask for something : your way to go in a specific place, to ask for in a shop, to ask for the price to take the public transport,… You will  use the French expressions s’il vous plaît (formal), more than s’il te plaît (informal). Bonjour, s’il vous plaît quelle est la direction pour le centre ville ? → Hello please, what is the direction for the city center ?

Je viens de… (I am from…)

After introducing  yourself, this phrase can come fastly, not everytime but usually it is. It refers to where you live, to your city or your country.  I am from London → Je viens de Londres I am from the USA → Je viens des USA The sentence that comes after that phrase to keep the exchange going could be d’où venez-vous / d’où viens-tu ? (Where are you from ?). You can ask it or your partner can ask it.

Excusez-moi (excuse me)

You can say it to have the attention of someone : a person in the street, you want to ask him something, a waiter in a restaurant,… Or you can say it to say « sorry » to someone who is on your way and you want to conitnue to walk, to ask him to move so you can continue your way.

Qu’est-ce que vous faites ? / qu’est-ce que tu fais ? (What is your job ?)

It means « What do you do ? », in general it means « what do you do in your life ? », « what work do you do ? », the answer will be the name of a work : écrivain (writer), fireman (pompier), conducteur de bus (bus driver),… Then to continue the exchange you can ask est-ce que ça vous plaît ? / est-ce que ça te plaît ? (Do you enjoy it ?).

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Have a look to others articles to get informations to improve your conversations, to keep the motivation in your learning journey. To read about different topics, to see movies, movies to improve your oral comprehension, to learn new nouns and keeping the motivation.

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Thank you for reading this article !
Thomas 😀

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