"Bonjour, ça va ?"

Translation:Hello, how are you?

December 29, 2012

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There is an expression in French, "C'est simple comme bonjour" = It's as simple as "hello". We see that French is a bit more complicated than that as words can have different meanings. Let's break it down:

  • Bonjour : is the standard way to say "hello" during the daytime. It can also be used to mean "Good morning" or the more general "good day". There are informal ways to say "hello" to someone. The main one is "salut". It may be translated simply as "hello" but also as "hi", of even "hey".

  • The standard way of saying "goodbye" is "Au revoir". Don't try to translate it literally, just remember that it means "Goodbye". You can also say "goodbye" in an informal way by saying "salut", the same word that means "hi" when you meet a friend means "bye". "Salut" is only to be used with friends or family and remember that it is informal. It's like the Italian "Ciao" or the Hawaiian "Aloha"; it means both "hello/hi" and "goodbye/bye".

  • "Ça va ? " is really a short version of "Comment ça va ?" which will be understood as "How are you?" It is informal. A slightly more formal way of asking the same question is "Comment allez-vous ?" You can see why this form is not introduced first since it's a bit more complicated. These all translate literally into something like "How's it going?" But for learning purposes, it's best at this stage of learning French to remember them as "How are you?" There are dozens of ways one might ask this question so let's keep it simple for now. You will learn the rest later.

  • "Ça va bien ?" is another variation which is like asking "Are you doing well?"

  • "Ça va" or "Ça va bien" may also be used as a statement, i.e., the answer to a question. They both mean "I'm fine", "I'm doing well", etc. Again, there are dozens of ways this can be said in English. For now, just remember that it can be used as either a question: ça va (bien) ? = How are you?, or as an answer: ça va (bien) = "I'm fine", or "I'm doing well".

  • For these little expressions, "Hello, how are you?", don't try to analyze them too much or try to figure out what each word means. Just know that "Bonjour" = hello and "Ça va ?" means "How are you?" The answer: "Bonjour, ça va bien" = Hello, I'm fine.


I was confused by the tone of the voice, the way it seems to go down in tone when saying 'ca va' made me think there was no question mark.. as if someone had already said 'bonjour, ca va?' and I was replying 'Hello, it's going (well)' ... Is this something that wouldn't be an issue in conversation because of being aware of the situation?


You are right and more than that, "ça va (?)" is both the question and the answer. They are kind of automatic phrases when you meet someone.


Does "Ca va" mean "how are you?", as well as "I am fine"? Seems off to me.


if "ça va" is used with a question mark: "ça va ?" it is a question. If not, it is an answer to the same question.


Agree, f.e.: Q: ça va bien? A: oui, ça va


It makes sense if you think about the literal translation. It would be similar to asking someone "how's it going?" and them replying "it's going," implying that it's going well.


I remember from my high school French, that "ça va" as a question was supposed to be said with a rising intonation.. Of course you can say it in anyway you want if you're speaking with someone.. they'll probably get that you're asking instead of stating.. anyways, any truth in this?


If you say it first, it's always a question. Of course there's the rising tone, because it's an habit, but you don't really need it to understand it's a question. If someone says "ça va" to you the first, it's a question.


how do you know when to use "ça va" and "comment -allez vous"?


"Comment allez-vous?"/"Comment vas-tu?" is the formal (and the more proper way).

"ça va" is very colloquial.


I wrote "Hello, how goes it" which is a more literal translation of the meaning but still accurate in my opinion.


Was it accepted? I was thinking of putting "How's it going"


How's it going is a colloquialism that only originated in the Italo-American boroughs of NYC, which then spread via shows like "Welcome Back, Kotter." I never heard it, prior to about 1976. It's an exact translation, but compared to vrai Francais, it's not classy.


Isn't it comme ca va? Because i put down that I am doing well because i thought that that was what ca va was used for :/


"Comment allez-vous?" is the proper and very formal way to say that (I don't understand why they don't teach it first), the less formal way is "Comment ça va?" and the very unformal way is "ça va". They though it would be easier to teach "ça va" first, before "Comment ça va", but it's exactly the opposite.... I hope they'll adapt their teaching.


"comme" means "like"; and "comment" is "how"

literally "comment ça va ?" means "how is it going?".


Hi Sitesurf, You say: "comment ça va ?" means "how is it GOING?". I agree with you but the Duo Lingo computer program did not agree! It CROSSED OUT the word "GOING" and marked me wrong, which surprised me - because it literally says: "How goes it?" from the verb aller - to go.


My translation of "Bonjour, ca va?" was = "Good morning, what's up?" I'm pretty sure that is an acceptable translation and that the french use it in that way. "How are you" is very close in meaning to "What's up" and I think it should be accepted.


"What's up" is often translated by "Quoi de neuf?", but I think you're right, there's no difference in the meaning, or in the formal/unformal register of language.


I wish the verbal translation used an inflection. I thought it was "good morning, I'm well." not "good morning, how are you?"


You can't say . Good morning, I'm well. It would be weird, because "ça va" is a reply to someone asking you a question. If you say "ça va" without a someone asked you, it's weird.

You can say it like this: Oh! ça va! Hein!!! (and you mean it's enough!!!)


Is there always a space before an exclamation mark or question mark in French?


Officially yes. (but a lot of people don't apply this rule.)


Wait, so ça va means both how are you and I'm fine? So you could greet someone by saying ça va and then the other person could reply by saying ça va again?


Indeed "ça va" can be a question or a statement.

In a dialogue, speaker 1 asks "ça va ?" and speaker 2 answers "ça va."

The difference will come from the tone of voice. When you ask a question, you raise your voice on the last syllable and when you answer, you drop your voice on the last syllable.


Sitesurf, I hope they'll correct this sentence, it's really TOO difficult for beginners. :-(
Teaching "Comment ça va?" first is a lot more logical...


"ça va" is mean "how are you?" And "I am fine." Right? So is there a conversation that sound like A : "Ça va?" B : "Ça va." Lol


Yes, there are millions of such dialogues in France every day. That's what I said 8 posts above yours, by the way.

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