Hello in french : the art of greeting and leaving

Hello in French : the art of greeting (beyond Bonjour and Au revoir)

Knowing how to say bonjour, bonsoir and au revoir is enough for any situation where you would have to greet someone – or take your leave. It might be quite a challenge to say it right at first because of the nasal sounds (you can recognize them now that you studied how to read french, right ?), but once you get it, you are covered. But as your interest in learning and understanding French is growing, covered isn’t what you’ll settle for, right ? So let’s learn about the most used (and varied) ways to say hello in French – and goodbye, too.

Greeting : saying Hello in french

Bonjour, Bonsoir

Bonsoir and Bonjour are the safest way to say hello in French. They are used for both formal and informal situation, so you’d say this to your boss as well as to your friend. Literally, you’re wishing a “good day” (bon jour) or a “good evening” (bon soir), so, as you can guess, you must to pay attention to the time of the day.

Say bonjour from early morning until sunset, and bonsoir when it’s already dark.

If you mistake one for the other, you might here your interlocutor correct you with a smile or even a laughter : Bonsoir, pas bonjour, il est déjà tard ! – there will be no offense meant, as it happens to everyone of us too by distraction, from time to time.

Salut, Hello (informal)

Salut is a very common informal alternative to say hello in French, and you’ll hear it a lot in all kind of situations, provided the atmosphere isn’t too formal : inside a family, between friends or colleagues, or even in certain circumstances with people you just met if the context allows it (like in a music festival for example). We might also use Hello as a perfect equivalent, although it’s less commonly used.

Coucou (very informal)

You might hear friends or family members say Coucou. This is a very affective way of greeting, it’s a word that we use for addressing to young children or babies ; in all cases it demonstrates some kind of affection.

Taking your leave : saying goodbye in french

Au revoir, Bonsoir

Au revoir is the safe play here, it can be told to anyone, at any time of the day. Litterally, you’re mentioning the next time you’ll meet, but you can actually use it if you don’t know whether you are ever going to meet again. It’s the perfect equivalent to “goodbye”. Bonsoir is a polite alternative when it’s already dark. Yes, it can be used for saying both hello and goodbye !

Say au revoir anytime, and bonsoir when it’s already dark.

Wishes for the day

You might hear people wish you a Bonne journée or a Bonne soirée. They’re literally wishing you a good day to come, or a good evening, so once again you must take into account the time of the day.

Actually, we often get more specific than that, and wish a Bonne matinée (a good morning), a Bonne après-midi (a good afternoon), or even a Bonne fin de matinée (a good end of the morning), a Bonne fin d’après-midi (a good end of afternoon) or a Bonne fin de soirée (a good end of evening).

We also use Bonne nuit, but it is generally a wish for a good night sleep and we use it only at the very end of the day.

All these might be understood more like actual wishes to enjoy the time to come, unlike “Au revoir” and “Bonsoir” that only demonstrate education, and it’s a good way to show you’re actually caring. You can also prefix them by Passez une… (lit. Spend a…). For example, “Passez une bonne soirée !”

Bye, Chao (informal)

Yes, we also use the English Bye and the Italian Chao. Of course, it’s very informal.

Meeting again

When taking your leave, you might want to refer to the next time you’ll meet with your interlocutor. It might be a polite way of expressing that you wish this to happen, or a kind reminder for some later date you agreed on to talk to each other.

The basic construction is À + (future date) (lit. To that date, but it means : see you on that date), which you can basically fill up with any date, but here are a few commonly used cases that you will hear a lot :

  • À bientôt (see you soon)
  • À demain (see you tomorrow)
  • À plus tard (see you to later)
    (or only À plus, in a very informal context)
  • À toute à l’heure (see you later) – but you’re referring to later today
    (or only À toute, in a very informal context)
  • À la prochaine (see you next [time]) (quite informal)


Adieu is not a word that you’ll use or hear often hopefully, it means goodbye with the idea that you’ll never meet or be met again. It is literally a recommendation “to God”.

We also use it in a less dramatic way, bidding farewell to anything that’s ending and gone for good : a station, a love, a grief, holidays, a work, worries, anything :

  • Adieu les soucis ! Goodbye worries !
  • Adieu les vacances ! goodbye holidays!
  • Adieu l’hivers, voici le printemps ! Farewell winter, here comes the spring!


Et voilà ! You learnt all the different ways that we say Hello in French, and also goodbye.

Au revoir, passez une bonne journée (ou une bonne soirée), et à bientôt sur language-easy.org !
Goodbye, have a good day (or evening), and see you soon on language-easy.org !

German alphabet

German Alphabet – Tongue-twister ?

Everybody knows that the basics of learning a language is its alphabet, and in the case of the German alphabet, you must have experienced that when it comes to the umlaut ä, ö, ü and ß it seems to be more of a jawbreaker than letters of a language.

 The German Alphabet or ABC (referring to the letters of A – Z) is related to the Latin alphabet with a few additions.

German is the most spoken mother tongue throughout Europa and currently around 15, 4 million people learn German, so I’m sure that some of you came across those difficulties.

Good thing is that of the letters are quite simple to read and the only difference mostly is the pronunciation, if we would compare it for example to the English alphabet. But what is it, that so many people are able to learn those weird letters with the two dots on top?

Here are some basic but effective tricks for the German Alphabet:

The Ä (combination of ae)

This one is the easiest one to learn, as we all use it or have used it if we speak English… You don’t believe me? Well I bet every one of us knows or has been to MC DONALD’S, right?

Let’s pay attention only to the way you pronounce the “MC“, a little bit like “Mac“. Now if you listen closely it sounds like the German ä. Just repeat the word again and compare it to a YouTube video about the letter “Ä“, you will be surprised….

The Ö (combination of oe)

This one might be a little trickier than the “Ä“, however we still have one English and one French word that sounds whose letter sounds similar to the German “Ö“. The english word “bird for example ; or even the word “word” that sounds like they have an “Ö” in it, because you do not pronounce the “o” in the word as you would do it in the English alphabet. If you are familiar with French, you can also refer to the word “bleu” as this sounds as you would say “blö“.

I would also recommend to use as an exercise a YouTube video practicing the “Ö” and the other umlauts.

The Ü (combination of ue)

Now that is the toughest one of all. There is no equivalent word that would sound in any kind of way as the umlaut in English. However, if you are a little bit familiar with French you will find a lot of words that sound like the “Ü“, for example the word “Rue“. Therefore, try to speak out the word and compare it the the YouTube video mentioned above.

Now I hope those comparisons make it easier for you to dive into the German language. However, there are a lot of other things you can do to learn the German alphabet or German in general easier. So above we covered the most difficult umlaut so all others are quite easy to learn.

However there might be another letter in our alphabet with which you might not be familiar with. Let’s take a look at it:


The sharp is is similar to the double s that you can find in English as well, for example Swiss. Now the Germans love rules, so to use the sharp ß here are the rules: – It will be used if the vowel before is spoken long, for example Straße (German for street). – It will be written after a long umlaut (ä,ö,ü) and so called Diphthong (which is for example du, ei or au) like the word heißen (German for called a name). BUT (otherwise it would be too easy..) – If the word ends after the Diphthong with a ß you always write s not ß!

The best ways to apply the German alphabet and German language:

  1. Old fashioned German lessons at Language-online language school :  you can join them in a group or one-to-one lesson. There your teacher will help you to with how to pronounce the German alphabet right.
  2. .. the new way of learning, the most used and named the best are for example Babbel and Duolingo. However, you need to use the App frequently and stick to it.
  3. Tandem Learning. This form is a sort of giving and taking of lessons. For example, I live in Germany but I want to learn French I can download the App, post that I want to learn French and speak German. So if a French speaking person can write me and we can set up virtual meetings to practice French and German.
  4. The “Birkenbihl-Methode”. Now this learning method uses a sort of “decoding”, where a text will be translated as close as possible, word by word into the mother tongue. In the next step the same text will be spoken while the foreign language with the subtitle in the mother tongue so the vocabulary will be learned. In addition, there can be series watched in the foreign language with subtitles to deepen the learning process.
  5. Community language learning. This is using the same base as Tandem learning. However here several students, mostly adults, gather together to use their fear of speaking or learning a new language and based on the conversation occurring they learn slowly but steady the language.

Now the most important thing is that you find a way fitting yourself so you feel comfortable and practicing continuously.

Perfect ways to self-train German can be also found online, from beginner level A1 till expert level C2.

The most common websites with online exercises are the following:

I hope this Article helped you through the first difficulties of the German language and the German alphabet and for those who want to start to learn or already learning, some good alternatives to the “old fashioned”classroom classes and some additions to improve your German knowledge.

Also a lot of Facebook groups to interact in German, a so to speak modern pen-pal relation. And who knows, maybe it will involve into a Student exchange so you will be able to practice all the nice words with “Ö“, “Ü” and “Ä” in Germany. Because there is no better way to learn a language than jump right into it and use the good old but effective method of “learning by doing” !

Learning the French Alphabet

French alphabet isn’t all you need to read French correctly

Have you ever tried to read French and had this sensation that it is more complicated that it should be ? The French alphabet is the same as the one you use to write in English, you familiarized yourself with the differences in the pronunciation, you can even sing the French Alphabet song by heart… This shouldn’t be harder than this, right ?

Still, your French mother-in-law still doesn’t get it. I guess you would feel frustration, and it’s perfectly legitimate. Sometimes, what’s written and spoken, it’s just not the same. As a native French speaker, I was taught how to do it from a young age, and hundreds of thousands of words read later it looked perfectly simple and straightforward me, so much that I had lost contact with that feeling of not understanding why, oh why, do we complicate ourselves so much ?

Until I had this conversation with my Romanian girlfriend who explained me that in Romanian, they simply wrote everything as it was pronounced, and that there were hardly any exception (except maybe with some words originating from… French). Well, I did the experiment and tried to read some pages in Romanian (which was absolute Chinese to me) after she explained to me how to pronounce the â (yes, it’s not even in the French alphabet, and the corresponding sound is weird). Even if I didn’t know what i was reading it resulted quite simple to me and perfectly understandable to her.

With any other language I came across, I realized it was more or less the same. Some of them (like Hindi) are literally written phonetically. I started to wonder how non-French speakers should learn to pronounce written French, and what a big mistake it would be to learn the French alphabet and read it as it is. Just don’t.


And that’s how I decided to make that small guide :

How to read and pronounce French if you don’t speak it yet !

I intentionally simplified things a bit, because my goal is to give a medicine for the headache and to show the basics on how to read unknown words in French without feeling insecure. My approach is to allow approximations and make the exceptions part of another existing rule instead of having to learn many different cases. And, forget the French alphabet as a reference, but take the sounds to be read as a reference instead.

Familiarize yourself with the new sounds

In order to be able to read French correctly, you will have to familiarize yourself with these new sounds, hear them, feel them, and be able to reproduce them. These new sounds are :

  • The closed “u” /y/ like in “le but” (the goal)
  • The guttural “r” /R/ like in “la mer” (the sea)
  • The nasal sounds “on” /ɔ̃/, “an” /ɑ̃/, “in” /ɛ̃/ and “un” /œ̃/ like in “un ancien mont” (an ancient mount)
  • The “gn” /ɲ/ like in “la montagne” similar to the Spanish ñ

Use the International Phonetic Alphabet as a reference, listen to a native speaker, try to reproduce and ask someone to correct you.

Take the good attitude

In French, some sounds are represented by a group of 2, 3 or even 4 letters. This happens quite a lot, more than in English, and unlike with the intonation or accentuation, you can’t miss those ones if you want to be correctly understood. If you don’t recognize them, instead of one sound, you might pronounce two different other sounds and get it all wrong. In the case of the vowels, for example : “ai” should be read /ɛ/ and not /ai/… This is the main reason why you shouldn’t rely on knowing the French alphabet and its pronunciation.

When you don’t know word, instead of reading the words letter by letter, you should recognize the sounds and their possible representations.

Knowing how to decipher new words sound by sound is a necessary thing, and the object of this guide, but later, when your vocabulary expands, you will have the option to recognize similar words and patterns, and reading will feel more easy and flowing.

The good attitude is to recognize the words and patterns you already know and remember how they are pronounced.

Don’t be hard on yourself : French speakers aren’t

French uses a monotone tone of voice : accentuation in words are not that important, and there is no real difference between short and long vowels. As an English speaker, you’ll probably be smiled at for your accent (in a nice and respectful way though) ; so if you make a “a” too long or too short, it’s OK. The use of the French alphabet doesn’t include long or short vowels, so you’ll be understood anyways.

There are also disparities in pronunciation even between native speakers from different regions of France, and some subtleties in pronunciation (like the use of /ɑ/ or the choice between /ɔ/ and /o/, /œ/ and /ø/) would only introduce a lot of rules, exceptions and cases that would complicate things for you now, while at the same time we French people are not always respecting them so much, depending on where we’re born.

Relax. In this guide we’ll concentrate on not making mistakes when reading. You’ll tune your accent later.

Another example , in the region of Paris, people don’t make a difference between “on” and “an”, or between “un” and “in”. They use sounds in between ; and being myself a southerner, my ear doesn’t understand poetry from a Parisian singer who makes “demande” rime with “monde”.

The vowels of the French Alphabet… And the other ones

The vowels in the french alphabet are the same as in the English alphabet. There is a big difference though : all vowel letters can also be altered by one of the four possible accents : the acute accent (“é“), the grave accent (“è“), the circumflex (“ê“) and the diaeresis (“ë“). That makes 24 possible alterations for the vowels, but we can simplify a lot, since most of the alterations only serve for silent reasons of etymology, to differentiate in writing words that are pronounced the same, or to change in the pronunciation in a minimal way that brings more confusion than anything for the beginner (while introducing subtleties that even French speakers mistreat sometimes).

So just consider things like :

Ignore any alteration except “é“, “è” and “ê

And about the diaeresis :

The diaeresis breaks the grouping of the letter in the representation of a sound : “” is now pronounced /ai/, “oi” /oi/, etc…

So, now that we have introduced all the necessary information, here is the list you’ll want to refer to, or learn :

a /a/ or /ɑ/ un chat (a cat)
e, eu, œ = oe, œu = oeu /ø/ or /œ/ le bleu (blue), un œuf (an egg)
é /e/ mangé (eaten)
è, ê, ai, ei, ay, ey /ɛ/ un élève (a pupil), le maire (the mayor), la reine (the queen)
e followed by a double consonant /ɛ/ un verre (a glass), une pelle (a shovel), une dette (a debt)
y not followed by a vowel
/i/ bicyclette (bicicle)
o, au, eau /o/ or /ɔ/ au bord de l’eau (at the edge of the water)
u /y/ pur (pure)
ou /u/ pour (for)
oi, oy /wa/ la loi (the ley)

Also remember the representation of the nasal vowels, a vowel followed by an m or an n, but only if not followed by another vowel :

on, om /ɔ̃/ un son (a sound), but : bonne (good, f.), bonus (bonus)
in, im, ain, aim, ein, eim /ɛ̃/ le vin (wine), but : devine (guess)
un, um /œ̃/ un article (an article), but : une exception (an exception)
an, am, en, em /ɑ̃/ le nouvel an (new year), but : la banane (the banana)

The special /j/ sound and the “y”: a semi vowel in the French alphabet

The “y” is considered a semi-vowel in the French alphabet, because when placed before another vowel, it becomes a consonant and represents the sound /j/ (like in the English “yes”). As you saw before, this doesn’t happen when it is placed after a vowel : in this case we would another form of writing it : “ill”

y followed by a vowel /j/ Un coyote (a coyote)
ill /ij/ une fille (a girl)
eil, eill /ɛj/ un orteil (a toe)
ail, aill /aj/ la paille (the straw)
oeuil, euil, euill /ɔj/ le feuillage (the leaves)
ouil, ouill /uj/ rouillé (rusted)

Mute letters and liaison

In French, there are a lot of cases where we write letters that shouldn’t be pronounced at all. They usually are the marks of specific grammatical constructions (like feminine and plural) or conjugations when the pronunciation is similar ; or they come for etymology reasons, as French words can originate from a variety of distinct old languages such as Greek, Latin, Italian, German, English, or even local ones like Breton. And sometimes, they also change the pronunciation of the letter they follow.

Here are the patterns at the end of a word :

s, –x, –p, –t, –d, -g
ts, –ds, –gs
Usually not pronnounced les époux (the brides), trop (too much), les dents (the teeth)
e, -es Not pronounced, or only softly un article (an article), des poules (chickens)
ent in the case of verb conjugation at he 3d plural, not pronounced, or softly as /ø/ ils parlent (they are talking)
er, –ez /e/ vous parlez (you talk), un fermier (a farmer)
et, –ets /ɛ/ un robinet (a tap)
el /ɛl/ un courriel (un email)

And at the beginning :

h Not pronounced un haricot (a bean)

Then, we have the liaison rule :

When the following word starts by a vowel (including, not “h“) pronounce the last letter to make the transition sound better.
If this last letter is an “s“, pronounce it “z“, If it is a “d“, pronounce it “t“.

For example : “les enfants” (the children) /lezɑ̃fɑ̃/, “trop aigu” (too acute) /tRo pegu/, “les haricots” (the beans) /le aRiko/

This is not an absolute rule, you might have to consider the usage. Pronouncing “les enfants” without the liaison would sound as weird as making the liaison in “un long été” (a long summer) or in “un blanc ardent”. Also, “des nuages obscurs” (dark clouds) can be pronounced equally with or without the liaison (poets use this possibility to add or remove a syllable from a verse to adjust its length to fit the constraint of the poem, a process known as synaeresis and  diaeresis).

And now, let’s learn the consonants

The consonants of the French Alphabet are pronounced mostly the same than in English. Here are the ones that differ :

ch /ʃ/ Le chat (the cat)
gn /ɲ/ La montagne (the mountain)
f, ph /f/ Un téléphone (a telephone), le fil (the weave)
t, th /t/
g followed by a, o, u, or a consonant
gu followed by e, i, y
/g/ gu (acute), un ogre (an oger)
un guide (a guide)
g followed by e, i, y
ge followed by a, o, u
/ʒ/ joli (nice)
un orage (an orage)
rougeâtre (reddish), la geôle (the prison)
c followed by a, o, u, or a consonant
/k/ court (short), un crime (a crime)
la traque (the hunt)
le coq (the rooster)
s between two vowels
/z/ Un zèbre (a zebra)
une usine (a factory)
s in the other cases
c followed by e, i, y
ç followed by a, o, u
/s/ Le sel (the salt)
les sourcils (the eyebrows)
la leçon (the lesson)

Et voilà !

And now to put in practice all that you’ve learnt today. I suggest that you invite your mother-in-law for a tea and read her a special sentence that we have :

Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume.

Did you get what’s special about that sentence ? Yes, it contains all the letters from the French Alphabet !

What if I’m single ? =)

If you don’t have a French mother-in-law to whom proudly demonstrate your new skills, don’t worry, we can provide one for you !
Well, maybe not exactly… But at least we have native teachers here who will be happy to hear you, congratulate you, give you some advice, and go deeper into the grammatical or etymological aspects if you are interested…

Try it now


German verbs : all about them

Like in other language also in German we have to conjugate the verbs. In every German course you will learn that at the beginning. For the regular German verbs we have here a strict rule.

Regular German verbs

We have in German a few regular verbs. Here the rule is easy, you have only to follow the following table:


Ich komm
Du kommst
Er / Sie / Es kommt
Wir kommen
Ihr kommt
Sie kommen

The rule is following

you skip the en at the end of the basic verb, then you have only komm. At that you put the letter depending on the person. For every student it is very important, that you learn this rule very good. As better you learn it, as less problems you will have later 🙂

Irregular German verbs

Unfortunately we do not only have regular German verbs. We also have the irregular ones, which how the names tells there is no fix rules. That means for you as German learn, that you have to memorize them.

A very important one is for example the Verb to be and have:

sein (to be)

Ich bin
Du bist
Er /Sie / Es ist
Wir sind
Ihr seid
Sie sind

haben (to have)

Ich habe
Du hast
Er / Sie / Es hat
Wir haben
Ihr habt
Sie haben

This 2 Verbs we will also need in the Perfect (link to perfekt). To study the verbs you have to find your own technique. There are different types of learners. And depending of which type you have to to the right exercises to get fast results.

Separable German Verbs

in the German verbs we have also a type which is called separable verbs. This is at normally complicated for beginners. The problem here is that you have to recognize, when is it a true separable verb or not. Also some German learners forget to say at the end the prefix. The rule is not so complicated:

Infinitif: aufmachen 

In a sentence: Ich mache die Tür auf.

Here you see we put the prefix at the end and conjugate the verb depending on the person.

Modal Verbs

A modal verb is an auxiliary verb that explains a necessity or possibility. We use them in German in different ways. We can for example tell with the German modal verbs our wishes, give orders, or express rejection.

In the German language we have 6 modal verbs:

  • dürfen (to be allowed)
  • können (to be able to)
  • mögen (to like)
  • müssen (must, to have to)
  • sollen (should, to be supposed to)
  • wollen (to want)

All this verbs are irregula verbs so you have to study them.



Ich darf
Du darfst
Er /Sie /Es darf
Wir dürfen
Ihr dürft
Sie dürfen


Ich kann
Du kannst
Er /Sie /Es kann
Wir können
Ihr könnt
Sie können


Ich mag
Du magst
Er /Sie /Es mag
Wir mögen
Ihr mögt
Sie mögen


Ich muss
Du musst
Er /Sie / Es muss
Wir müssen
Ihr müsst
Sie müssen


Ich soll
Du sollst
Er /Sie /Es soll
Wir sollen
Ihr sollt
Sie sollen


Ich will
Du willst
Er /Sie / Es will
Wir wollen
Ihr wollt
Sie wollen