bonjour / bonsoir

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by williamc, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. williamc Senior Member

    england english
    Bonjour à tous,

    Would it, please, be inappropriate to greet people with "bonjour" after 7pm, and is it obligatory to use "bonsoir?"

    Merci d'avance.
  2. anglais428 Senior Member

    UK, English
    c'est mieux a dire 'bon soir'
  3. tie-break Senior Member

    D'après moi il faut dire "bonsoir" à partir de la tombée de la nuit.

    En général, je commence à souhaiter une bonne soirée aux gens vers 17h30-18h. En prévision, donc. Mais je dis toujours "bonjour".

    Dès que la nuit tombe je dis "bonsoir".
  4. marcolo

    marcolo Senior Member

    Bordeaux, France
    France, french
    It is not obligatory to say "bonsoir", often people (me included) forget to say "bonsoir" :

    - Bonjour
    - Bonsoir ...
    - ah oui, bonsoir (optional reply)

    no big deal really, this is not because you will say "bonjour" that people will guess you are a foreigner, but rather due to your accent.
  5. Raoul_14740

    Raoul_14740 Banned

    Normandie - Français
    Bonsoir : obligatoire après 18 h.
  6. forumwr Member

    what time of day should you begin using bonsoir instead of bonjour? i've heard people use bonsoir very early in the day...
  7. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    When it starts getting dark?
    When you leave work for the day?

    Interesting question...
  8. french frog Senior Member

    france, french
    bonsoir starts around the evening dinner usually
    but it can be use also after leaving work
    it means, litteraly : have a good evening, so you can say it to someone early in the afternoon if you leave him
  9. Jean-Michel Carrère Senior Member

    French from France
    As a greeting, isn't it basically the same as when you start saying "good evening" in English ?
  10. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    English speakers don't really say "good evening" often. It has a very formal sound to it. It's used much less often than "bonsoir" is used by French speakers.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  11. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Good evening is only a very formal greeting--something news announcers on TV/radio or formal speakers might say to greet their audiences.

    Otherwise, we just say Hello, Hi, etc. as a greeting after dark.

    When you leave the office you say goodnight in English, no matter what time of afternoon/evening it is.

    Elsewhere can you say goodnight instead of goodbye once it is nighttime.

    Bonne nuit = sleep well
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
  12. tearose New Member

    It seems to me that here in Switzerland people almost never say 'bonsoir' to open a conversation. For example, if I go to the supermarket in the evening, the cashier will greet me with 'bonjour' and then as I am leaving, will say 'bonsoir'. So it seems to me that it is more complicated than just the time of day. Can anyone shed any light on this for me?
  13. Kajeetah

    Kajeetah Senior Member

    French - France
    Well I'm not sure but it could be that in that case
    bonjour = hello, regardless of the time
    bonsoir = au revoir

    Maybe some people don't consider "bonsoir" as a greeting word, just a leaving word.
  14. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    I agree with Kajeetah. That would be my interpretation too.

    Incidentally... welcome to the forum, tearose. :)
  15. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Regional variations play a big part in this.

    I work with people from many parts of France, and most of them use "Bonsoir" for both greeting and parting.

    "Bonjour" of course is only for greeting ... ummm, well, except in Québec. (Surprised you didn't mention that, Nico, or have things changed since my days in Canada? I remember shopkeepers in Montréal often saying "Bonjour" as I left — whereas in France it would be "Bonne journée".)

    As for the time of day when "bonsoir" is used, I'd say the commonest usage in France is from around 17h/18h. However, in my part of the South-West it's sometimes used in the early/mid-afternoon, particularly by the older generation. Maybe there's a Spanish influence there (we're not that far from the border), since in Spanish the same word is used for afternoon and (early) evening.

  16. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    Hello Ws. I only confirmed that I interpret the usage in Switzerland like Kajeetah does. :)

    I usually say « bonsoir » as both greeting and parting, after 6 PM. But « Bonjour » as greeting (Hello) can be said at any time of the day (including evening).

    And... true enough, you'll often hear « bonjour » as parting/good bye in Quebec, instead of « au revoir ». This is even attested in Petit Robert :
    If I want to say "Have a good day", then of course I'll say « Bonne journée ». ;)
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  17. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Ah, OK, gotcha. So I'll leave you with a "Bonsoir" — or, seeing what time it is here (and in Switzerland), "Bonne nuit" :).

  18. french frog Senior Member

    france, french
    I agree with Wordsmyth : in the South o France, some people, mainly old generation, would use it to say "good afternoon" actually (both for greeting and parting)
  19. wyny Member

    français - France
    As said earlier :
    -Bonjour : only as a greeting (in France at least)
    -Bonsoir : either as a greeting or leaving word, usually in the end of the afternoon or in the evening.

    But, personally, and it seems to be the same for most people around me, I nearly only use "bonsoir" as a greeting, and only in a "formal" context, when greeting older people or strangers, for exemple. When leaving I'd rather say "au revoir" or "bonne soirée".

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