‘bonjour’ Or ‘bonsoir’?

Whoever you are, whether you’re French and lived in the Hexagon your whole life or you’re brand new to the country and you’ve only just started learning the language, this one happens to everyone. The latest publication in our ‘you know you live in France when…’ series really does affect everyone most evenings. It’s helpful to understand social etiquette in a culture which places so much emphasis on it.

Salut, coucou, bonjour, bonsoir ???

The big one, of course, is ‘bonjour’ but just to be a little more polite you can add courtesy titles like ‘bonjour, madame’, to spruce things up a bit. Now the confusing one, what time should you say ‘bonsoir?! Generally, we’d say around 6 pm but there’s certainly no fixed time, so if you said ‘bonjour’ to someone at 6:05 and they replied ‘bonsoir’ don’t be embarrassed.

So when do you use ‘salut’ and what is ‘coucou’? Well, this is confusing. Think of ‘salut’ essentially as like ‘hey’ in English. You can say it in two scenarios; if you’re saying hi to someone you’re close to or you’re a teenager who doesn’t really care about social etiquette… And then there’s ‘coucou’, now you really do only use this when you’re super close to someones and even then they might find it cringy. Maybe best to avoid this one…

Read more French language tips here.