French Greeting Words
Greeting someone in France generally requires both a kiss on the cheek and a French greeting word. Whether it's your business associate, or your good friend - make sure you know what to say and how formal you should be.
Salut! Ça va?
'Salut' is the informal way of saying, 'hi', in French. You would use it with your friends in informal situations. 'Ça va?' frequently follows and is an informal way of asking, 'how's it going?'
'Bonjour' is the standard greeting that is used most frequently. It literally means 'good day' and is generally used to formally greet people in the morning. It is appropriate to use with both strangers and people that you know.
'Bonsoir', the opposite of bonjour, means good evening or good night. Just like bonjour it is a standard greeting for the evening time and is used in more formal situations.
Quoi de neuf?
'Quoi de neuf? ' is used exclusively with friends and people with whom you are familiar. In English, it would be the equivalent of saying, "what's up" although it's more accurately translated as "what's new?"
French Greeting Tips
Remember that in general, the French are more formal than their American counterparts. If you are ever unsure as to what a situation would call for, go with the more formal greeting until you are invited to do otherwise. Don't forget either, that when greeting people the French often se serrer les mains (shake hands) or faire la bise (give a kiss on the cheek). Once you get beyond basic greetings, make sure and learn some everyday phrases to use once your conversation has been properly begun