Expressing how you are with aller (greetings)

Look at these sentences with aller:

Comment va Paul? - Il ne va pas très bien ces jours-ci.
How is Paul? - He's not feeling very well these days.

Comment ça va? - Ça va bien, et toi?
How are you / How do you feel? - I'm fine/I feel fine, and you?

Je vais mal
I feel bad

Comment vont tes enfants? - Ils vont mieux, merci
How are your children? - They feel better, thank you

In French, you can use the verb aller (to go) to make general statements about how you feel/are. 

You can use it to express to feel/be fine, bad, better.

ATTENTION:

When you want to express specific statements with adjectives I am sick/ tired/happy - you cannot use aller.
You'll use être (to be) instead:

Comment vas-tu, Bertrand ? - Je suis malade aujourd'hui.
How are you, Bertrand? - I'm sick today.


Comment ça va Samantha ? - Je suis fatiguée.
How are you Samantha? - I'm tired.

See also Using 'sentir bon' and 'se sentir bien'

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Comment va Paul? - Il ne va pas très bien ces jours-ci.
How is Paul? - He's not feeling very well these days.


Comment ça va? - Ça va bien, et toi?
How are you / How do you feel? - I'm fine/I feel fine, and you?


Je vais mal
I feel bad


Comment vont tes enfants? - Ils vont mieux, merci
How are your children? - They feel better, thank you


examples with être


Comment vas-tu, Bertrand ? - Je suis malade aujourd'hui.
How are you, Bertrand? - I'm sick today.


Comment ça va Samantha ? - Je suis fatiguée.
How are you Samantha? - I'm tired.


Q&A Forum 7 questions, 14 answers

PjB1Kwiziq community member

je vais mal vs je suis malade

What is the difference between mal and malade? It looks like aller is used for mal and être for malade, but what's the difference. There's also "j'ai mal" using avoir, (not in this lesson). But given the context in comparison to this lesson, I'm guessing j'ai mal is used to say specifically where it hurts, but I'm not understanding the other two.

Asked 3 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Pj,

Aller mal doesn't necessarily mean illness in French. You would use it if things weren't going well generally.

e.g.

Ça va mal chez Peugeot= There are problems at Peugeot 

But if you say of your elderly grandmother when someone asks you how she is -

Elle va très mal

you would think of her health rather than anything else. 

If you say,

j'ai mal

it will be followed normally by a part of the body -

J'ai mal aux dents = I have a toothache

You will use 'être + malade' for a general illness -

Je suis malade depuis deux jours I have been ill for two days 

Hope this helps!

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Je vais mal. — I am not well. But doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sick.

Je suis malade. — I am sick. 

je vais mal vs je suis malade

What is the difference between mal and malade? It looks like aller is used for mal and être for malade, but what's the difference. There's also "j'ai mal" using avoir, (not in this lesson). But given the context in comparison to this lesson, I'm guessing j'ai mal is used to say specifically where it hurts, but I'm not understanding the other two.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

RantA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Specific question

The lesson says that when talking about specifics, you use être, but the kwiz said this should be aller:

Martine était malade, mais elle ________ mieux à présent.

She is feeling better at present sounds like it is specific, so why is 'est' not right here?

Asked 1 year ago
RantA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I think maybe I get it. "I feel better" is general, but "I AM tired" is specific.

So its more about the fact that feelings are general, but you are something specific.

AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Rant !

C'est exactement ça !

But I agree it can be made clearer in the lesson, and so I did just that :)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Specific question

The lesson says that when talking about specifics, you use être, but the kwiz said this should be aller:

Martine était malade, mais elle ________ mieux à présent.

She is feeling better at present sounds like it is specific, so why is 'est' not right here?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

DC1Kwiziq community member

Why can you use inversion with nouns in this expression?

According to the lesson 'Forming inverted questions with names, things and emphasis', you can't use inversion with nouns (for example, 'Vient Sophie?'); you need to add a pronoun ('Sophie vient-elle?'). But here in the examples we see 'Comment vont tes enfants?' and 'Comment va Paul?'. Why isn't it 'Comment tes enfants vont?' or 'Comment tes enfants vont-ils?' Is this a peculiarity of this particular expression, or are there other cases where inversion can be used with nouns with no pronoun?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi D,

To add to what Chris said and to use the example in the lesson 'Sophie vient' the three possible ways to ask if Sophie is coming would be :

Est-ce que Sophie vient?      (using est-ce que)

Sophie vient-elle?        (Inversion)

Sophie vient?   (Intonation rising at the end making it a question)

It is the same with all verbs,

e.g.   Les voitures coûtent cher.

Est-ce que les voitures coûtent cher?

Les voitures coûtent-elles cher?  (Inversion)

Les voitures coûtent cher?

Hope this helps!

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi D,

"Comment vont tes enfants?" and "Tes enfants comment vont-ils?" are both correct.

The reason you cannot say, e.g., "Vont tes enfants?" is because there is no interrogative pronoun as, e.g., comment, quand, etc.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Why can you use inversion with nouns in this expression?

According to the lesson 'Forming inverted questions with names, things and emphasis', you can't use inversion with nouns (for example, 'Vient Sophie?'); you need to add a pronoun ('Sophie vient-elle?'). But here in the examples we see 'Comment vont tes enfants?' and 'Comment va Paul?'. Why isn't it 'Comment tes enfants vont?' or 'Comment tes enfants vont-ils?' Is this a peculiarity of this particular expression, or are there other cases where inversion can be used with nouns with no pronoun?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Ça va?

Is there a lesson about "Ça va?" as a greeting? What are the correct responses to "Ca va?" Should I respond with "Ça va?" or something else?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonsoir Paul, There are several possible responses: ça va . ça va bien. Il ne va pas très bien ces jours-ci Ça va bien, et toi? Je vais mal Je suis malade aujourd'hui. Je suis fatigué. Tous va bien. (my favorite) Tous ne va pas bien.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
A short comment: it ought to be "tout va bien" and "tout ne va pas bien" unless you want to say "tous vont bien" -- "all are doing fine". -- Chris (not a native speaker).
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Merci

Ça va?

Is there a lesson about "Ça va?" as a greeting? What are the correct responses to "Ca va?" Should I respond with "Ça va?" or something else?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

JaneA2Kwiziq community member

Martine était malade -- aussi Martine est allé mal, or Elle est allé bien?

So does one use aller bien/ mal in the past, or only the present tense?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Jane, Yes, you can use aller in the past, but it needs to be in the imperfect, like être is. So Elle allait mal / bien.

Martine était malade -- aussi Martine est allé mal, or Elle est allé bien?

So does one use aller bien/ mal in the past, or only the present tense?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

DoraidaC1Kwiziq community member

how to pronounce "Je vais" because I have heard two forms

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Doraida, There are in fact two ways to pronounce it: [vay] and [veh]

how to pronounce "Je vais" because I have heard two forms

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

KiattiyosC1Kwiziq community member

Can I use "Il sent mal."?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Kiattiyos !

"Il sent mal" could only be used in a very specific context to mean "He smells wrong", i.e. that person has a problem with their sense of smell.

To say "He smells bad" (i.e. he stinks), you would use "Il sent mauvais", and to say "He feels bad", it would be "Il se sent mal".
Have a look at the related lesson: https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/how-to-use-sentir-bon-versus-se-sentir-bien

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

BarbaraA2Kwiziq community member
Will I ever learn all this?
RodC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Don't give up. I suck too. But i'm not giving up

Can I use "Il sent mal."?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Clever stuff underway!