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AlloBaber
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French Phrase of the Day: Essential Small Talk
What's the first question French friends ask each other when they meet up?

Comment ça va?


Or even the shortened version:

Ça va?


Both these phrases translate to, "How's it going?" It's a classic greeting, or the first thing you say right after greeting someone. It's just polite, but also a great way to check in with your friends and see how they're doing.

So when you see your new French friends, remember to greet them, "Bonjour! Ça va?"

The Response

"Ça va?" doesn't demand a big, long answer – in fact, it's answer is itself.

A conversation might start like this:
"Salut Tomas! Ça va?"
"Oui, ça va, ça va..."

So when sometime says "Ça va?" you respond, "Ça va."
If you want to give a more varied answer, you can try:

Ça va bien. – It's going well.
Ça va mal. – It's going badly.
Ça ne va pas. – It's not really going. (meaning, it's going badly)

Pronunciation


Comment ça va? – "KOH-mon sah va?" (the t is silent, and the n is quite nasal)

Ça va? – "Sah vah?"

Note: When asking a question in French, as in English, the pitch of your voice should rise at the end. If answering "Ça va," as a statement, the voice descends in pitch towards the end.
This is truly one of the easiest and most common French phrases. Master this, and you're already on your way to holding a conversation with the locals. :)

For more beginner French, check out my absolutely essential card on Restaurant and Dining Out Vocabulary!
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