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Comment ca va?

This video is part of our course beginners 1

The questions

There are different ways in French to ask someone “how are you?” There are four listed below and the most common one is “ça va?”

French English
Comment allez-vous? How are you?
Comment vas-tu? How are you?
Comment ça va? How are you?
Ça va? How are you?

Note
The top question is formal, and the bottom two are informal. “Comment vas-tu” is an informal version of “comment allez-vous” but it is still more formal than the two questions below. It is also used when you know someone has been unwell or through a lot of things.

Note
The French uss the present tense of the verb “to go” (aller) to ask the question, unlike the English that uses the verb “to be” (être). “Aller” is irregular in French.

Note
Do not forget the “t” link in “comment allez-vous,” to link the silent “t” at the end of “comment” to the vowel at the start of “allez.”


The answers

If “ça va” is in the question, the answer should start with it; same with “vous” or “tu” as questions. The answer should start with “je.”

French English
Ça va très bien I am very good
Je vais très bien I am doing very well
Ça ne va pas très bien I am not feeling very well
Je ne vais pas très bien I am not feeling very well
Ça va bien I am doing well
Je vais bien I am fine
Ça ne va pas bien I am not doing well
Je ne vais pas bien I am not well
Ça va I am okay
Bof So-so

Comment ça va ? Ça va très bien

Comment allez-vous ? Je vais bien


Note
In informal situations, in the spoken language the most common answer to any of the 4 questions seen is “ça va.”

Note
In informal situations, in the spoken language you do not have to follow the rule where your answer shall start with “je” if the question uses “tu” or “vous”. Same for “ça va.”


Ask the question back

French English
Et toi? And you?
Et vous? And you?

Note
“Toi” is informal and “vous” formal.

Note
“Toi” and “vous” are disjunctive pronouns. Disjunctive pronouns in English are “me, you, him, her, us, you, them.”

Note
In French, the disjunctive pronoun used to be formal is the same as the subject pronoun “vous.” However, the disjunctive pronoun used to be informal “toi” is different from the subject pronoun “tu.”

Note
In English, it is common to ask questions back using disjunctive pronouns by saying “and him?” or “and them?” In French it is the same logic, we ask questions back saying “et toi ?” or “et vous ?”. It is incorrect in both languages to ask questions back using a pronoun subject, you won’t say “and I?” or “and he?” As a result in French we cannot say “et je ?” or “et tu ?”

Note
There is no “small talk” in French in shops or with people you do not know.





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