How To Say How Are You in French + 10 Common Expressions

The French way of asking, “How are you?” is: “Comment allez-vous?” (pronounced kɔmɑ̃ t’ale vu). This is the most common expression for “how are you?” and is the most formal. However, there are many other formal informal ways to ask somebody how they’re doing. This post will explore all of these expressions.

Usage of “aller” (to go) to express “How are you?” in French

The French language makes heavy use of the verb aller (to go) for many expressions related to “How are you?”. Before we go any further, we must look at aller in the tu (you singular, informal) and vous (you formal, plural) forms. We’ll need these verbs to ask, “How are you?”.

  • tu vas you go (informal)
  • vous allez you go (formal, plural)

The most common way to ask “How are you?” to somebody who you already know and are with whom you’re familiar is the following:

  • Comment vas-tu? How are you? (familiar)

You are literally asking, “How do you go?”. This is similar to the English expression, “How’s it going?”. If you don’t know the person, or you’re speaking to a group of people, you must use the following form:

  • Comment allez-vous ? (How are you? formal and plural)

Aller bien

Another way to ask somebody how they’re doing is to use “aller bien” (to be doing fine or literally “going well”). Here’s how to ask:

  • Tu vas bien? Literally, “Are you doing fine?”
  • Vous allez bien? (same translation as above but to group or formal)

“Comment allez-vous ?” pronunciation

Forvo.com also offers some great pronunciation audio samples. Here you can learn how to pronounce “Comment vas-tu?” and here you can learn how to pronounce “Comment allez-vous?“.

My friend, Julien, on YouTube does a great job explaining how to pronounce “Comment allez-vous?” in the following video.

Using “ça va” to ask how are you

Another common and slightly less formal way of asking somebody how they’re doing is to use “ça va”. This expression translates literally to “that goes”. This page on our site offers a detailed explanation of the meaning and usage of ça va.

To ask somebody how they’re doing you can simply ask:

  • Ça va ? How are you? / How’s it going?

You can also precede the expression by the word comment, which means “how?”.

  • Comment ça va ? How’s it going?

This fun video does a great job teaching “Salut, comment ca va ?” (Hi! How are you?) in both the European French and French-Canadian accents:

More ways of asking how are you in French

In the following section we’ll look at a few more ways of asking somebody how they’re doing. These expressions are all considered slang and are used much less often than the above “Comment allez-vous?” and “Comment ça va?”. If you’re interested in French slang, this page on our site offers a lot of fun words.

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1) Ça roule?

“Ça roule ?” is a highly informal way of asking “How’s it going?” and translates literally to “that roles?”. English equivalents include expressions such as “How’s it hanging?” and “What’s up?”.

2) Ça gaze?

“Ça gaze ?” is yet another highly informal way of asking, “How’s it going?”. The literal translation is “That’s gassing?” Translations are also “How’s it hanging?” and “What’s up?”. You would definitely NOT use these two expressions in formal situations!

3) Quoi de neuf ?

“Quoi de neuf ?” is a slang expression for asking “How are you” and translates literally to “What’s new?”. You could definitely use this expression if you hadn’t seen somebody in a long time.

4) Quoi de beau ?

“Quoi de beau ?” is yet another informal expression for “How are you?”. The literal translation of “Quoi de beau ?” is “What’s beautiful?”. The question is soliciting a positive response, meaning the other person is somehow expected to share the positive things going on in his or her life.

5) Ça baigne ?

“Ça baigne ?” is a highly slang expression for “How are you?” and translates literally to “That bathes?” or “It bathes?”. This expression would definitely be off limits for people you don’t know!

6) Qu’est-ce que tu fais ?

The question, “Qu’est-ce que tu fais ?” translates literally to “What are you doing? This is based on the verb faire, which means to make or do. This page on our site covers faire in detail. The meaning of this expression really is “What are you up to?” or “What have you been doing lately?”.

7) Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?

This question translates to “What’s happening” or “What’s going on?”. You could use this expression to inquire about somebody’s current life or situation.

8) Comment te sens-tu ? / Comment vous sentez-vous ?

The question “Comment te sens-tu ?” translates to “How do you feel?” It is based on the verb “se sentir”, which means “to feel”. This page on our site covers sentir in detail. This expression would be very useful if you knew that the person you were asking had recently been ill or not well.

9) Qu’est-ce qui ne vas pas ?

The question “Qu’est-ce qui ne vas pas ?” translates to “What’s wrong?”. This question is is using the verb “aller” (to go) in the negation. This page on our site covers the French negation rules.

10) Comment ça se passe?

“Comment ça se passe?” translates loosely to “How’s it going?”. The verb “se passer” means “to happen” or “to occur”. With this expression, what you’re really asking is, “how’s it going” with reference to a mutually understood ongoing situation. According to this thread on WordReference, this is a commonly used expression in French-speaking Canada.

How are you in French – conclusion

Ça va ? Comment vas-tu ? Are you still with us? We hope that after having read this post you have a much better grasp of how to ask, “How are you?” in French!

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