Hi! What's Up? — Salut! Ça va?

Saying “hi” and starting conversations with friends is a handy thing in any language. So much can happen following a good “hi!” You can go play, go for an ice cream, talk about common interests, or just hang out. Your “hi” does more than offer a greeting; it can show someone that you're ready to talk or to have fun.

You probably already know a lot of different ways of saying “hi” in English. You might say “hey” to your close friends and “hello” to your teacher. And you probably follow up your “hi” with a “How are you?” or “What's up?” or even “How's it going?” You choose the kind of greeting depending on the person you're talking to.

For example, you probably speak more casually to your friends than you do with your school principal. You'd never say, “How's it going, buddy?” to your principal! You'd say, “How are you, Mr. Dumas?” In fact, you speak informally to people you know well and more formally to strangers.

French kids do the same thing, but they don't just change an informal “What's up, dude?” to a more serious “How do you do?” They change the “you”!

The Friendly You and the Formal You — Le “tu” sympathique et le “vous” formel

You need to know the two kinds of “you” in French because they are both used. There is the friendly “you,” which is tu in French, and the formal “you,” which is vous. Kids call each other by the friendly you, tu, all the time. But kids call older people, especially strangers, by the formal you, vous.

There's another important difference between the tu and the vous, and that has to do with the number of people the words refer to. In English, you can use “you” for one person or seven people. Not in French!

The tu is singular. It always refers to one person your age or whom you know well. But the French vous is both singular and plural. The vous refers to one person whom you don't know well. And vous also refers to more than one person, whether you know them well or not.

Here is a table to help you remember:

<tgroup cols="2" align="center"> <colspec colnum="1" colname="col1" colsep="0" rowsep="0" colwidth="50%" align="left"/> <colspec colnum="2" colname="col2" colsep="0" rowsep="0" colwidth="50%" align="left"/> <thead> <row rowsep="1"> <td><p>Type of “You”</p></td> <td><p>French Word</p></td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><p>A friend</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Tu</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>Someone about your age</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Tu</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>Someone any age who you're close to</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Tu</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>An adult you don't know well</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>An adult you're meeting for the first time</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>Any authority figure</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>More than one friend</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>More than one person you're close to</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>More than one adult</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Vous</emphasis></p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <div class="npsb"> <h2>MISTAKES TO AVOID <emphasis>Fautes à éviter</emphasis></h2> <p>Try not to mix-up your tu and vous because it will confuse your French friends. If you call someone your age by vous, they may think you don't want to be friends. And if you call a friend's parent by tu, he or she may think you're impolite!</p> </div> <div class="npsb"> <h2>It's You!</h2> <p>Can you find the vous and tu hidden in this scene?</p> <div class="npmo"><img src="http://0.tqn.com/d/np/kids-french/p43-001.jpg"></div> </div> <div class="npsb"> <h2> FUN FACTS <emphasis>Pour s'amuser</emphasis></h2> <p>The difference between <emphasis>tu</emphasis> and <emphasis>vous</emphasis> is so important in French that each word has developed its own verb. <emphasis>Tutoyer</emphasis> means to speak to someone using <emphasis>tu</emphasis>, and <emphasis>vous-voyer</emphasis> means to speak to someone using <emphasis>vous.</emphasis></p> </div> <div class="npsb"> <tip> <h2>IMPORTANT TIPS <emphasis>TRUCS IMPORTANTS</emphasis><inlinemediaobject><imageobject><imagedata fileref="!.jpg" format="JPG"/></imageobject></inlinemediaobject></h2> <p>When you are unsure whether to use <emphasis>tu</emphasis> or <emphasis>vous</emphasis>, see which one your French friend is using. If he uses <emphasis>tu</emphasis>, you can, too!</p> </tip> </div> <h2>Choosing Between You and You — <emphasis>Choisir entre tu et vous</emphasis></h2> <p>Knowing when to switch from <emphasis>tu</emphasis> to <emphasis>vous</emphasis> is important in French. Because you don't switch between a friendly and formal “you” in English, you have to really learn to think about it when you speak French. You also have to learn to switch between a singular “you” and a plural “you.”</p> <p>Look at the following list and decide if the person or persons is/are a <emphasis>tu</emphasis> or a <emphasis>vous</emphasis>, and write the answer in the space provided:</p> <ul> <li><p>Your best friend </p></li> <li><p>Your teachers </p></li> <li><p>Your mom </p></li> <li><p>A bus driver </p></li> <li><p>A kid your age you meet on the playground </p></li> <li><p>Your friend's dad </p></li> <li><p>Your doctor </p></li> <li><p>Two police officers </p></li> </ul> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/kids-french/social-life-la-vie-sociale/" title="Social Life — La vie sociale">Social Life — La vie sociale</a></li><li class="next"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/kids-french/social-life-la-vie-sociale/greeting-friends-saluer-les-amis.htm" title="Greeting Friends — Saluer les amis">Greeting Friends — Saluer les amis</a> </li></ul></div></div> <div id="coda"> <div id="rel"><div class="n5">Related Articles</div><ul> <li><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/kids-french/social-life-la-vie-sociale/hi-whats-up-salut-a-va.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Hi! 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