In French, the word for good morning is: “Bonjour” (pronounced bɔ̃ʒuʀ). “Bon matin” (pronounced bɔ̃ matɛ̃) translates literally to “good morning”. However, this expression is used mostly in Canada. In French culture, it is very important to greet those around you in the morning with a polite “bonjour”. This post will explore different ways of saying good morning in French and look deeper into culture nuances and five ways to say “get up!”.
The author of this article was an exchange student in Douai, France in 1991-1992 during his junior year of high school. All of the cultural notes in this article are based on his personal experiences in France.
Saying good morning in French – culture differences
As mentioned, there are some major cultural differences between English speaking (particularly North American) and French society when it comes to saying good morning. In American society, you can sometimes get away without saying good morning to somebody either in your family or in public.
In French society, however, it’s imperative that you greet all those around you with a polite bonjour (good morning). In the following paragraphs we’ll explore how to say good morning to different people.
Saying good morning in formal situations
In formal situations, such as saying good morning to strangers in shops, teachers or even superiors at work, it’s very important to follow the word bonjour by the appropriate corresponding title. Failure to to this would be seen as rude in French culture.
- Bonjour, madame good morning, ma’am
- Bonjour, monsieur good morning, sir
- Bonjour, mademoiselle good morning, miss
- Bonjour, mesdames good morning, ladies
- Bonjour, messieurs good morning (to group of men)
Saying good morning to parents and grand parents
In French culture, it’s is common for kids to follow bonjour in the morning with maman (mom) and papa (dad). The same goes for addressing grand parents.
- Bonjour, maman good morning, mom
- Bonjour, papa good morning dad
- Bonjour, mamie good morning, grandma
- Bonjour, papie good morning, grandpa
Saying good morning to kids and students
When adults address kids, they will often follow bonjour by the corresponding term.
- Bonjour les enfants good morning, children
- Bonjour, ma fille saying good morning to a daughter
- Bonjour, mon fils saying good morning to a son
Saying good morning to classmates
In classroom settings, it is typical for classmates to greet each other in the morning one-by-one, using the first name of everybody in the group. Hence, in the school setting, “bonjour” is followed by the first name of the classmate.
- Bonjour, Martin! Good morning, Martin!
- Bonjour, Sylvie! Good morning, Sylvie!
Can I use “salut” for good morning?
May people wonder whether it’s okay to use salut (both informal hi and bye) to mean good morning. The answers are both yes and no.
Using salut to mean good morning would be perfectly acceptable with a friend or close family member. However, using this word to mean “good morning” could be seen as impolite with anybody else.
This page covers salut in detail, offering a complete explanation of the usage and pronunciation.
What does bonne journée mean?
Some people wonder if bonne journée means good morning. It does not. Use the expression, bonne journée when you want to say, “have a nice day”.
Getting somebody to wake up
You might have to wake somebody up before saying good morning to them. Here are few different ways to wake somebody up in French.
- Lève-toi! Wake up! (said to a single person)
- Levez-vous! Wake up! (said to a stranger or group of people)
- Debout! On your feet! Rise and shine! (Literally, “up”; almost a military expression)
- Sors de ton lit! Get out of bed!
- Debout debout! secouez-vous! Wakey! Wakey