One of the first phrases you’ll need to learn in French is “Hello, how are you today?”. It’s probably one of the first things your French teacher will ask you in class.
It’s also a great way to create a connection with people you’ve just met, learn about them and eventually become friends. After a few lessons with Lingoda, you will be able to move on to more complex ice breakers.
There are many ways to ask someone how they are doing in the French language, and you’ll find some of the
most common ways below, formal or informal. You will also learn some fun ways to ask “How are you?” that you can tell your new French-speaking friends to make them laugh.
How are you doing” in the French language – a useful list
Whether you’re speaking to your boss, your friend or a stranger, we’ve got you covered! Find a list of useful ways of asking how somebody is.
- 1. Comment allez-vous ?
- 2. Comment vas-tu ?
- 3. Comment ça va ? / Ça va ?
- 4. Comment tu te sens ?
- 5. Tu vas bien ?
- 6. Ça roule ? Ça baigne ? Ça gaze ?
- 7. Bien ou bien ?
1. Comment allez-vous ?
Comment allez-vous ? will probably be the second question you will learn to ask in French after Comment tu t’appelles ? (what’s your name?).
It literally translates to “how are you going today?”. It is the most common phrase to ask how someone is. You can also use this phrase to ask “How are you?” in formal French. The use of vous indicates that you address several people or one person in a formal way.
2. Comment vas-tu ?
Comment vas-tu ? is the counterpart of Comment allez-vous ?. It means the exact same thing except that it’s meant to be used informally. Did you notice that tu was used instead of vous?
As a helpful rule of thumb, if you ever find yourself wondering whether you should use tu or vous, use vous. French may have a few famous swear words, but the language still cares about politeness!
3. Comment ça va ? Ça va ?
This is a more neutral way of asking how someone is doing. You could use this phrase at work, with your boss or colleagues, with family or friends. It works well in any situation!
You can use the full phrase Comment ça va ? or drop the comment and ask a very simple ça va ?.
4. Comment tu te sens ?
Comment tu te sens ? in French translates to “How are you feeling?”. It’s a more intimate way of asking someone how they are doing. Use this phrase with someone you already know well. By asking this question, you will make it feel like you expect an elaborate and sincere answer. Be prepared to deal with emotional comments!
5. Tu vas bien ?
Contrary to the neutrality of Comment ça va ? or Ça va ?, Tu vas bien ? could be a way to show that you care about the person. The use of tu (singular you) shows that you are addressing one person in particular and want to know what is up with them. Use this phrase with a dear friend who seems down or someone you haven’t seen in a while.
6. Ça roule ? Ça baigne ? Ça gaze ?
These phrases are a bit outdated but they are still funny. In fact, a French person may be pleasantly surprised that you know these phrases at all! They are rather informal so we wouldn’t recommend using them in a formal situation or at work. Instead, try this phrase on a good French-speaking friend for a laugh!
· Ça roule ? literally translates to “Is it rolling?”. If you want to be even funnier (and even more outdated), you could ask Ça roule, ma poule ? (Is it rolling, my chicken?). Ma poule would be a friendly (and very informal) way to address a friend. The fun lies in the rhyme.
· Ça baigne ? literally translates to “Is it bathing?”. Try it at the swimming pool for an amusing pun!
· Ça gaze literally translates to “Is it gasing?”. Just like the two other phrases above, it means “How are things?”.
7. Bien ou bien ?
Bien ou bien is one of modern French’s most recent argotic phrases to ask how someone is doing. It would translate to “well or well?”, hinting to the full question “Are you well?”. Fortunately, the answer to this question is usually a simple Bien. (well),
So this could be an especially good phrase to learn if you are a beginner in French and don’t think you’d understand a longer answer!😉
These 20 French phrases for beginners might help you on your language learning journey as well.
In a nutshell – how to say “how are you” in French
There you go, 7 different ways to ask a French speaker how they are doing. Asking someone how they are really is the first step to a new friendship.
However, make sure you read the room before you use any of these phrases. We wouldn’t want you to commit any social faux-pas!
For example, never use Ça roule ? with your boss, it probably wouldn’t go well… Unless they’ve known you for a while and are pretty laid-back.
And don’t use Comment tu te sens ? with this person you’ve never connected with if you don’t want them to talk your ear off.
If in doubt, a nice Comment ça va ? will work like a charm.
Louise is a French teacher and courses director. She lives in Oxford, UK and loves to bike around this lovely city. She is a keen traveller (she lived in Europe, the United States and Australia) and loves meeting people from all over the world. She is also passionate about how learning a new language opens doors to so many different cultures, and this is what she wants to share with her students. She comes from Burgundy-Franche-Comté, a region in the East of France, and loves everything there is about it, from the Macvin to the cancoillotte! Find out more about her on her LinkedIn.