Simple comme bonjour

Greeting someone in French is not very difficult. One has two alternatives according to the time of the day:

BONJOUR (literally good day!), for the morning and afternoon.
Mind the pronunciation of the nasal vowel ‘on’ in bonjour which is different to ‘onne’ as in bonne journée! (have a nice day!). Listen:

BONSOIR for the evening. There is no rule about when the evening (soir) starts. When it is dark outside one will definitely say bonsoir, so quite early in winter time. In general I would say bonsoir from around 6pm. Bonsoir has this peculiarity that it also means goodbye in the evening. So you will use it when you enter a room, as well as when you exit it.

In colloquial speech, salut is also used. It is similar to hello, and also works as bye bye.

Simple comme bonjour, isn’t it?
This expression is the equivalent of the english ‘as easy as 1,2,3’ or ‘Bob’s your uncle’ and ‘as easy as shelling peas’ or the american ‘as easy as pie’.

Grrr… grammar:

Simple comme bonjour; well almost.

M before B, P and M♥.
The nasal sounds, ‘an’, ‘en’, ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘un’ are usually written ‘vowels +N’, except in front of the letters B, P and M where the ‘N’ becomes a ‘M’. So, you will write:
bonjour but trompette (trumpet) and combien (how much) and
interessant (interesting) but simple (simple) and timbre (stamp).
As for any rule, you have exceptions: bonbon (candy) and bonbonnière.

Comparaison (simile)

To compare two situations, things, people etc, we use the adverb comme to mean that they are similar, equal. It is the equivalent to the english structures ‘as…as’, or ‘like…’.
Cet exercice est simple comme bonjour (this exercise is as simple as saying hello; this exercise is as simple as pie).

Another example is Paul Eduard (1895-1952) famous surrealist vers: la terre est bleue comme une orange (The Earth is as blue like an orange) in the 7th poem of his compilation L’amour la Poésie. In this case we even have a metaphor.

“La terre est bleue comme une orange
Jamais une erreur les mots ne mentent pas
Ils ne vous donnent plus à chanter
Au tour des baisers de s’entendre
Les fous et les amours
Elle sa bouche d’alliance
Tous les secrets tous les sourires
Et quels vêtements d’indulgence
À la croire toute nue.
Les guêpes fleurissent vert
L’aube se passe autour du cou
Un collier de fenêtres
Des ailes couvrent les feuilles
Tu as toutes les joies solaires
Tout le soleil sur la terre
Sur les chemins de ta beauté.”

“The Earth is blue like an orange
Never a mistake words do not lie
They no longer give you cause to sing
It’ kisses’ turn to get along
The madmen and the loves
She her wedding-ring mouth
All the secrets all the smiles
And what garments of indulgence
To believe her quite naked
The wasps are flowering green
The dawn is worn around the neck
A necklace of windows
Wings cover the leaves
You have all the solar joys
All the sunlight over the Earth
On the roads of your beauty.”

 

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