"Bonjour, ça va ?"
Translation:Hello, how are you?
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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?
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?
"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.
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.
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.