Not sure whether you should use “tu” or “vous”? A formal letter has a number of conventions about layout, language and tone that you should follow. Of course, in English the word “you” can be either formal or informal, but in French, as you will see ahead, we use tu for informal situations, such as hanging out with friends, and vous for everything else. How to Close Your French Letter. is the formal expression, which you should employ when speaking to superiors or strangers. In French today there is still a clear language code where both formal and informal greetings are relevant. The end result is a “how are you” stuck between formal and informal French. However, it’s probably good to follow the general guideline that, when in doubt, be formal! The exceptions to using the formal “vous” would be when talking to your family, your friends or when addressing very young children. This formal code is useful when you are asking for anything in the commercial arena in France, from shops, health care, touring, making bookings, and as you meet new people. So, the English-to-French translator must choose the RIGHT moment to switch from VOUS to TU. A possible equivalent in English would be English that you would speak to a person you respect a lot, like a grandparent, or a person in a position of power, like the president. I selected a sentence where you invert verb and pronoun to ask the question. Let's take a look at these different factors and how they impact how fast you learn French. Now you probably wonder how being more polite can offend someone. Good morning Mary, it's been a while since we've seen each other! (Level 3). Using the wrong form will lead people to think you don’t respect them. But it's so practical that it's been used a lot in French lately, and has really made its way in almost all situations: among friends and family, of course, but also at the office or with acquaintances. Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. This means that the verb following “vous” uses the plural form. Vous: the formal you “Vous” is the safe “you” in French. The est-ce que construction can sound a bit long-winded in written French. Once you’re done, you’ll get a score out of 100 on your pronunciation and can listen to your own audio playback. Both sentences have the same meaning. In English we use only YOU, which is very convenient, but not for the French translators. Rocket French - Level 1, Rocket French You never use “tu” when talking to a group. If you’re planning on traveling in a French-speaking country, you might think learning casual French is enough… well think again. With an average rating of 4.6 stars you know Rocket French works! So... that should cover your bases and keep you out of trouble for a while, however informal you'd like to be! You don’t know him very well. With French, though, people tend to use casual structures even in professional settings — generally anywhere you’d use a tu with someone rather than a vous. Nobody will ever blame you for being too formal. Have you met Jeanne? If you don’t know whether you should use “vous” or “tu”, use “vous”. Yes! Here is how to make sure you don’t use the wrong form. The word itself has a long history: in the Roman times, merci meant “wages” and later on the word evolved to mean “a favor” or “a mercy”. formal - WordReference English dictionary, questions, discussion and forums. The French language is really big into formal versus informal French. Remember that when you already know someone relatively well, there is no need to introduce yourself formally anyway. Then use “vous” until you are invited to use “tu”. It’s also the “you” a child uses with an adult (usually outside of close family). If you are commenting an article from Le Monde, “vous” would be much more appropriate. So when a 20 year-old uses “vous” with a 40 year-old, the 40 year-old may feel older as a result. Now that we have studied the formal ways of saying "how are you" in French, let's look at the informal ways.Granted, ça va is not the most formal French. A common favourite for closing a semi-formal business e-mail is cordialement. Hi Jeanne, how's it going? - Level 3, USA: 3501 Jack Northrop Ave, Suite #P1171, Hawthorne, CA 90250, USA | Phone: 310-601-4958, Asia/Pacific: 12-987 Ferry Road, Woolston, Christchurch 8023, New Zealand | Phone: +64-3-384-6350, Rocket French (a standard expression when meeting someone for the first time) … Use the right form and people will be happy to talk to you and amazed by your knowledge of the language ; use the wrong form and the only thing they will remember is how rude you are. Tu me manques depuis que tu es partie ! There are distinctions about who to call “vous” and who to call “tu” for example. Applying for a job is always strictly formal and interacting with people socially on vacation at a hotel for example, or sight seeing, would always be expected to be more rather than less, formal. Learn all of the following words in French" Je = I Tu = you (use this for people you know, your own age or younger) The Formal and Informal You in French. Earlier, I told you that “vous” is also used when you are talking to a group. That said, the best way to know whether you should use “tu” or “vous” is to observe and see what people use. Here is more information on how to ask questions in French. In some French families today, parents are still addressed by their children in the formal way! In French, the usage of vous (formal or plural you, pronunciation: voo) and tu (informal/singular you, pronunciation: too) is exactly the same. This also happens when you start a conversation with “vous” because you aren’t sure whether you can use “tu” or not, and then realize using “tu” would be perfectly fine with this person, either because the person invited you to use “tu” or because it just feels right. The distinction between “vous” and “tu” indicates your relationship to the person you are talking to. An easy way to remember that is to think about the famous song Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir. In this lesson you will learn how to say “How are you?” in French. Many languages have an informal register. Why you must know the difference between “tu” and “vous”, Questions you may ask yourself about “tu” and “vous”, Don’t forget to conjugate the verb accordingly. In the French language, pronouns like "I" and "she" are already familiar around the world, but others like "us" or "them" are unknown. But this is also true when you are talking to only one person. But if you're already familiar with the … Tu connais Jeanne ? Change it to "Comment vas-tu?" How Are You in French. You use “vous” to say “you” in French with: The last one is particularly important. Je suis folle de toi = I am crazy about you, if a woman is speaking / Je suis fou de toi = I am crazy … By the 13th century, thou became the informal “you” and ye became the formal “you,” making it similar to the French vous / tu distinction. Note that, contrary to the English version, the French phrase starts with "you" and ends with "I". Bonjour, Marie. Learning a language is a complex process that is different for each individual based on several different factors. Linguim » Learn French » Beginners » Formal Vs Informal in French. Think about the people you are the closest to. Try some more French grammar lessons! But French gets very casual very quickly. The following examples show casual greetings using varying degrees of familiarity, from casual through to very laid back. The only differences is that the first one is informal, while the second one is formal or plural. Ça fait plaisir de te voir, tout va bien de ton côté ? Comment ça va ? This happens when an adult talks to a kid for example. Vous is the formal “you” in French. Typically, this is the “you” used among professional adults, or with someone (much) older than you. tu’ and ‘vous’ Both of these words mean the same thing: you. Rocket Record lets you perfect your French pronunciation. It's great to see you again, is everything going well with you? It’s just as important to understand what’s being said to you as it is to know what to say in a new language. This lesson will make sure you don’t offend anyone by being too familiar, and help you to avoid any embarrassing cultural misunderstandings! The most obvious way of saying "I miss you" in French is "tu me manques". You would perhaps be embarrassed, maybe even angry. Enchanté(e) is definitely the most common way to say “nice to meet you” in French and probably the one that you will use the most. The vous (the subject pronoun) can be a single formal you (as in when you are talking to a person much older than you are), a plural formal (where you would use vous to address two or more people), or informal (where you use tu to address two or more people). Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you. I hope you find these free French grammar lessons helpful. How would you react if a stranger came up to you, and said: “hey dude, what’s up”? Bonjour Marie, comment vas-tu ? No, we haven't met. Sometimes you won’t know whether you should use “vous” or “tu”. - Level 2, Rocket French That’s what you are going to discover now. You may sound overly polite, but you won’t have to worry about being rude. If you talk to several persons, you always use “vous”, because “vous” is also the plural “you”. You can use it in all types of situations whether formal or informal, regardless of what it is you’re thanking someone for. Oui ! In today’s fast paced lifestyles, there is a tendency to be less formal, yet compared to the English language, French customs still make an … However, there are some rare cases where the use of “vous” instead of “tu” can offend a person. If you don’t know whether you should use “vous” or “tu”, use “vous”. Marie-Claire Rivière and the Rocket French Team. This French language lesson is for you! As you will find out in your conversations with French people, so much of the dialogue depends on how other people interact with you! Traditionally, French business correspondence ends with one of various silly long-winded formulae, although particularly in the case of e-mail correspondence, these are starting to go out the window. Formal Vs Informal in French « Previous; Beginners; Next » Formel vs informel / Formal vs. Click here! Get started with free lessons, exclusive discounts, and more. You will notice that in a typical dialogue in French, a person is always addressed by their appropriate title, even if you don’t know their actual name, as in “Sir,” “Monsieur,” “Madam,” ”Madame,” and more traditionally, addressing adolescents as “jeune homme,” ”young man,” or “jeune fille,” ”young lady.”. A typical way to close a french business letter is “dans l’attente … It’s perfectly acceptable for one person to use “tu” while the other uses “vous”. If you've decided to give French a try and you're eager to start (or continue) learning the language of liberté, egalité, and fraternité (the French national motto}, here are a few hacks to learn French fast and and optimize your efforts. French learners will be familiar with formal French, where every phrase is meticulously constructed. Use ‘tu’ only when you speak to someone you know very well, otherwise keep the conversation formal. If one friend uses “vous” and the other “tu”, this may create distance and make the friend who uses “tu” feel uncomfortable. Look at the following ice-breakers and compare the use of language while delivering almost the same message: Notice that words are different but that the overall meaning stays the same. A more usual way of forming a question in formal French is to use inversion. PARIS (Reuters) - Four French police officers held in custody over the beating of a Black music producer have been placed under formal investigation, … There are several ways: “Comment allez-vous?” (formal) and “ça va” (informal).To say how are you say “Comment allez-vous?” If you do not know the person or if they are older than yourself. Nobody will ever blame you for being too formal. "D'où venez-vous?" Bonjour Jean, tout se passe bien aujourd'hui ? Thousands of people have had great success with mastering a new language with Rocket Languages. Tip: Your free trial account details will be sent to your inbox. In contrast, when addressing family or very young children, it’s not necessary to be so formal. “Comment vas-tu” is the “informal” version of “comment allez-vous” as indicated by the use of “tu”, the informal French “you”. The sense of respect prevails today in many cultures around the globe, albeit adapted to modern day norms. There is a right and a wrong way to say “you” in French. You might already know that the French have 2 ways to say you: Tu and Vous. Ça fait longtemps qu'on ne s'est pas vu ! Many people feel uncomfortable with this though, so they may tell you: It’s much more common to use “tu” online than offline. When you speak English, you sometimes start talking to someone formally, and then switch to a more informal language as you get to know each other. The French culture has inherited a way of addressing people formally and casually and this affects both language and choice of words. All Free. (Use a headset mic for best results.) Merci is the standard way of expressing gratitude in French. For this reason, knowing when to use “tu” and when to use “vous” is critical. (Level 2), Rocket French Note: to make it easier for you to understand what happens when you switch to “vous”. The French culture has inherited a way of addressing people formally and casually and this affects both language and choice of words. Picture this: you are talking to your elderly neighbor Monsieur Dupont. There is a strict formal and informal code of conduct that is to be followed when speaking French. Imagine a film where two people meet: in French, they have to say VOUS first and TU after a moment which depends on many parameters (you’ve seen that above). In this situation, the use of “vous” highlights the difference of age. You may need to introduce a friend to another friend, in which case it is useful to follow the expected pattern. The same happens in French. Not sure when to use the formal "You" Vous in French or the informal "You" Tu? Closures: formal. In English, most verbs require 'do' support: do you work? There are distinctions about who to call “vous” and who to call “tu” for example. It's like saying "you're lacking to me". Don’t forget to conjugate the verb accordingly, People you don’t know (people in the street, sellers…). When greeting someone formally, a handshake should always accompany the greeting. The same is true between friends. Salut Jeanne, ça va ? You will also find him giving blogging advice on Grow With Less. In today’s fast paced lifestyles, there is a tendency to be less formal, yet compared to the English language, French customs still make an imprint on social interactions. Merci d’avance / merci par avance – Thanks in advance (the latter is more formal) m-air-see dav-onse / m-air-see par av-onse; Merci à tous – Thank you all m-air-see a (as in “apple”) tooss; Formal vs. informal. Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement activities! Closing a Formal Letter Tell the recipient you look forward to their reply. Everything you need to learn French from home. And there’s nothing quite like having the command of formal French necessary to make those long and flowing French sentences we love so much. However, it also uses the inversion way of asking questions which is considered formal. In a more formal setting, it’s polite to indicate that you’re delighted … French formal letters have … I miss you in French : tu me manques. When you use “vous”, you need to use the verb ending “ez” at the present tense. It’s not too formal nor is it too informal which makes it a great expression for beginners to learn. While similar to the formal, polite form of the question, this phrase … Good morning Marie, how are you? The word enchanté(e) kind of looks like the English word “enchanted” as in “enchanted to meet you”. Take a look at the simple explanations I’ve put together, and then listen to some examples of French conversations so you can practice using this basic French grammar in real life situations. You will need these useful phrases if you are applying for a job abroad, communicating with customer service in a different country or writing a thank you letter to your host family. Need help with how to say you in French? Inversion. If you call someone tu , you'll use other expressions that are considered informal also. Informal : In French, you always have to be careful to not be impolite by using the informal with the wrong people. Just listen to the native speaker audio and then use the microphone icon to record yourself. Possible response : toi aussi, tu me manques. It’s quite natural for people to refer to “this young man over there,” “le petit jeune homme là bas,” or “la petite” (in abbreviated form) when referring to “the young girl.” There are some subtle distinctions, for example, “Monsieur” across the board, refers to “Sir,” or to a “gentleman,” whereas “l’homme,” means “the man.” It’s probably safer to address any adult woman as “madame” as opposed to “mademoiselle” “miss” regardless of their actual status. To some this appears to create distance, while to others it maintains a sense of respect. Sometimes, you start talking to someone using “vous”, and finish the conversation with “tu”. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters. Or rather, there are different ways to say it depending on who you are talking to. In this French lesson, you'll learn the basic French pronouns. Problems? Non, on ne se connaît pas. In case of doubt, it’s always better to use “vous” than “tu”. Enchanté(e)! A – You in French = Vous – Formal. Introducing yourself and introducing other people to each other is a good place to start establishing your ease with dialogues. But this isn’t the most common way to ask a question in an informal situation. It’s a good idea to be comfortable using both socially. The separation … When you use “vous”, the following verb always uses the plural form. ‘Vous’ is used formally, while ‘tu’ is used informally. – “How’s it going?” This is slightly less formal than comment allez-vous, but it’s … The highest register of French, that of formal French, is the French that you use with adults that you don’t know very well. - A in French. Your parents, your husband/wife, your friends, maybe some of your colleagues. The reality is that “vous” doesn’t only show respect, it shows distance. So to be safe, you can ask: This is a rhetorical question though and answering no would be awkward. Vous is also the plural “you” in French, be it formal or informal. This is a friendly expression that can be used to catch up with people you haven’t seen in awhile. If you’re on a video game forum, using “tu” will generally be okay. In formal French, it is possible and usual to form a question by inverting the order of the subject and the verb. How you sign off an email in French depends on how well you know the person to whom you're writing, the purpose of the letter, and the degree of formality. – Nice to meet you! ; There are set places to put addresses and the date. (Level 1), Rocket French You would wonder who this guy is, why he talks to you as if you were his best friend. Blame you for being too formal nor is it too informal which makes it a expression... Learning casual French is `` tu me manques '' also the “ you ” French... 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Also find him giving blogging advice on Grow with Less are relevant be comfortable using both socially in! Between “ vous ” or “ vous ” instead of “ vous ” instead of “ tu when! This affects both language and tone that you should use “ vous ” be! Need to use the microphone icon to record yourself are going to discover now true when you commenting! Bit long-winded in written French sellers… ) conversation formal follow the general guideline that, in! Questions which is very convenient, but you won ’ t use the wrong will.: do you work casual French is `` tu me manques offend a person happens an. Grow with Less worry about being rude think learning casual French is to use the microphone icon to yourself. True when you already know that the verb accordingly, people you are talking to a group the closest.., tout va bien de ton côté ways to say “ you ” stuck between and! This isn you in french formal t have to be expression for Beginners to learn account details will be sent your!