Très Bien Meaning, Translation

What does très bien mean in French?

If you are new to learning French or are a seasoned expert, you’ll surely come across the adverb and expression “très bien” (pronounced tʀɛ bjɛ̃). But, what does “très bien” really mean? In a nutshell, “très bien” translates to “very well”, “good!” and “very good!”. This post will discover all most important translations of “très bien” in everyday conversations and speaking.

How to pronounce très bien

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In this section we will take a quick look at how to pronounce “très bien”. The word “très” means very and is pronounced somewhere between “tray” as in cafeteria tray and “treh” with “eh” sounding like the -e in get.

The word “bien” means “well” The phonetic symbols for bien are “bjɛ̃”. Essentially, the pronunciation is “bee” plus the nasal “in” as in the verb inviter. The “en” on bien is NOT pronounced like the nasal “en” or “an” as in the words enfant (child) and pendant (during).

The single most important aspect to pronouncing très bien correctly is not pronouncing the final -n on bien. The -ien sound in French is nasal and the the tip of the tongue never touches the roof of the mouth. If you pronounce the -n, you’re not speaking French.

This page on forvo has some excellent audio samples of the pronunciation of très bien. This video also does a great job:

Très bien in greetings and how to respond

One of the most common usages of très bien is in French greetings. In these situations, the direct translation is “very well”.

Another meanings of très bien are are “Great!”, “Well!”, “Good!” and “Very good!”.

There are few ways to ask somebody how they’re doing.

You can say: Comment allez-vous? (How are you? formal), Comment vas-tu? (How are you? informal), Ça va? (How’s it going? somewhat informal) and Comment ça va? (How it going? somewhat informal).

To answer any question asking how you’re doing, you can also answer by simply saying, “Très bien !”.

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You can also respond, “Je vais très bien, merci”, which translates to “I am doing very well, thank you”.

Equally, you can respond, “Ça va très bien, merci”, which means “I am very well, thank you”.

Using très bien in sentence building

Present tense sentences

There are many ways to use “très bien” when building sentences. The most basic usage is to modify a verb. For example, “Je chante très bien” (I sing very well) or “Vous cuisinez très bien” (You cook very well).

In situations where the sentence has a direct object, “très bien” must come between the verb and the direct object.

For example, “Je chante très bien la chanson” (I sing the song very well) or “Vous cuisinez très bien les pâtes.” (You cook pasta very well).

Passé composé sentences

In the passé composé (a French past tense), très bien comes between the auxiliary (helping) verb and the past participle.

For example, “J’ai très bien chanté” (I sang very well). Putting très bien at the end of the sentence would be wrong. Hence, you cannot say “J’ai chanté très bien.”.

How do you use très bien?

Très bien has several other common usages in French.

Easily, just as well

In some situations, très bien translates to “easily” or “just as well”. For example, “On peut très bien utiliser le parmesan aussi.”, meaning “We can just as well use parmesan cheese”.

Great! Excellent!

“Très bien” can also mean “Great!” or “Excellent!” when expressing agreement. For example, “Très bien! On recommencera demain !”, meaning “Great! We’ll start again tomorrow!”.

That’s fine! That’s great!

The expression “c’est très bien !” translates to “That’s fine!” and “That’s great!”. For example, “C’est très bien! On vient vous chercher à l’aéroport.” (That’s fine! We’ll come to pick you up at the airport).

OK, okay

“Très bien” can also mean “OK” or “okay”. For example, “Très bien ! On commence !” (Okay, let’s begin!).

Fully, very well

Another meaning of très bien is “fully”. For example, “Merci. C’était delicieux ! J’ai très bien mangé !” (Thank you. It was delicious. I eat very well!).

To know very well

Another common usage of très bien is associated with the verb “savoir” (to know). In this situation, savoir très bien can mean “to know fully well” or “to be fully aware”.

For example, “Je sais très bien sa réponse.” can translate to “I know full well his answer” or “I am fully aware of his answer”.

Academics

“Très bien” can also be added to the results of the French high school baccalaureate exam to highlight distinction. Thus, “baccalauréat mention très bien” means passing the baccalaureate with a grade higher than 80%.

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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