Learn how to say “Goodnight” in French

Learn how to say “Goodnight” in French

by Anne-Lise Vassoille

Updated August 19, 2022

Like saying hello in the morning or thank you in French, saying goodnight is a common polite phrase you’re bound to use and hear day after day (or night after night). It can be used in a straightforward interaction between adults at the end of an evening or a party, or to encourage children to go to bed on school nights. Either way, it’s often followed by wishing someone a good night’s sleep or sweet dreams. Find out how to say good night in French in a few different ways, and more generally how to talk about sleep.

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4 expressions to wish goodnight and sweet dreams in French

1. Bonne nuit

The most common and straightforward way is simply to say bonne nuit, which is the literal translation for goodnight. You can use it on its own or add a bit more to it:

  • Bonne nuit tout le monde

You can wish goodnight to everyone in French by saying bonne nuit tout le monde.

  • Bonne nuit les enfants

If you are talking to children, you can say bonne nuit les enfants (goodnight children) or bonne nuit les petits (goodnight little ones). As a side note, bonne nuit les petits was also a popular TV show in the 1960s that children would watch before going to bed.

  • Bonne nuit + the name of the person

Instead of mentioning a group of people, you can be a little more specific, by adding the name of the person: bonne nuit Thomas or bonne nuit Émilie.

  • Bonne nuit mon amour/mon chéri/ma chérie

You can also be more romantic with such French phrases as bonne nuit mon amour (goodnight my love), bonne nuit mon chéri (goodnight darling when talking to a man) or bonne nuit ma chérie (goodnight darling when talking to a woman).

2. Dors bien/Dormez bien

You can also take the opportunity to wish the person a good night’s sleep. Dors bien means “Sleep well”. If you want to say it in a formal way or if you are addressing several people, you would say Dormez bien.

3. Passe une bonne nuit/Passez une bonne nuit

This one means “Have a good night”. If you are addressing the person as vous or talking to a group, you would say Passez une bonne nuit.

4. Fais de beaux rêves/Faites de beaux rêves

Last but not least, this phrase to wish someone a good night is a more poetic one. Fais de beaux rêves means “Sweet dreams”. In France, you can say that to children or your partner, for example. The formal/plural version of it would be Faites de beaux rêves.

6 French expressions to send children to bed

Besides the expressions we have just mentioned, there are a few more French children are used to hearing, especially if they need a bit of convincing to go to bed. They may be told it’s time for sleep in different ways:

FrenchEnglishComment
C’est l’heure d’aller au lit.It’s time to go to bed.
Il est temps de se coucher.It’s time to go to bed.Literally, se coucher means “to lie”, but it is commonly used to say “to go to bed”.
Il est tard.It’s late.
Il se fait tard.It’s getting late.
Il faut aller faire dodo.You must go to sleep.Faire dodo is typically a phrase used with children. dodo is not an actual word in French, but is made up from the verb dormir (to sleep). 
Le marchand de sable va passer.The Sandman is about to come by.Obviously, a more poetic version, with the same character in French as in English.

9 expressions around sleep in French

Aside from sending children to bed and saying good night, there are a few expressions around sleep that you may find useful:

FrenchEnglish
Avoir sommeilTo be sleepy
Être fatigué.eTo be tired
Dormir deboutTo sleep on your feet
Compter les moutonsTo count sheep
Dormir comme un bébéTo sleep like a baby
Dormir comme un loirTo sleep like a dormouse
Dormir comme un angeTo sleep like an angel
Dormir comme une marmotteTo sleep like a groundhog
Être/Tomber dans les bras de MorphéeTo be/To fall in Morpheus’ arms

Interestingly, these phrases use the same beings and animals in French as in English. There is only one difference in the first expression: avoir sommeil uses the verb avoir (to have), and not to be as in English.


How to say goodnight in French

There you have it: a few different ways to wish goodnight and sweet dreams in French, or to send children to bed when you notice they are getting sleepy. You can just pick your favorite and start using it at the end of each day.

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Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.

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