French in Canada

Greetings and Partings

Two people smiling as they greet each other

Among French-speaking Canadians, informal greetings consist of either a hug and a kiss on the cheek or a handshake. Between friends of the opposite sex or between women, a hug and kiss is the norm, while men generally shake hands. In formal situations, one shakes hands and politely inquires about the other person. When greeting a large group, it is permissible to simply greet the group as a whole; in a smaller, more intimate gathering, one would greet each person individually.

Since there are both informal and formal uses of the second person pronoun, it is always a good idea, when in doubt, to use “vous,” the formal, and wait for the other person to signal that the informal “tu” is preferred.