This video is part of our free course beginners 1
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?”
|Comment allez-vous?||How are you?|
|Comment vas-tu?||How are you?|
|Comment ça va?||How are you?|
|Ça va?||How are you?|
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
|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|
Comment ça va ? Ça va très bien
Comment allez-vous ? Je vais bien
In informal situations, in the spoken language the most common answer to any of the 4 questions seen is “ça va.”
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.”
|Et toi?||And you?|
|Et vous?||And you?|
“Toi” is informal and “vous” formal.
“Toi” and “vous” are disjunctive pronouns. Disjunctive pronouns in English are “me, you, him, her, us, you, them.”
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.”
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 ?”
There is no “small talk” in French in shops or with people you do not know.