Good Night in French and Its Best Alternatives

Updated: March 28, 2021 by Mylene in French Expressions

good night in french

Saying good night is a common way to wish a peaceful sleep to a friend, a family member, or just someone you met outside. There are several distinct ways to say good night in French. Each expression has a unique meaning that defines when it’s appropriate to say it, with whom, and how? This post provides the most common ways of telling someone to sleep well. There are different ways to say good night in the French language and among them, you’ll learn:

How to say good night in French?

Good night in French is bonne nuit. It’s the most simple nighttime farewell.

What does “bonne nuit” mean?

It is clear that there are two distinct words: bonne and nuit.

  • bonne in French is used instead of “bon”. Bonne means good but as the word nuit is feminine therefore the adjective bon switches to its feminine form “bonne“.
  • nuit means the night time in French.

When to use “bonne nuit”?

By saying bonne nuit you’re wishing to the other person(s) a nice night.

You need to use it only if you’re around people that you know personally as it’s a personal thing.

Use this French expression to wish a good night upon leaving. You need to say it just before going to bed.

You don’t need to add something after bonne nuit. You can just say:

  • bonne nuit: good night.
  • bonne nuit + noun such as bonne nuit Marie: good night Marie.
  • bonne nuit tout le monde: good night everyone.
  • bonne nuit à tous: good night everyone.

Everyone can reply as well “bonne nuit” to wish you a good night as well. For example:

  • You: Il est l’heure d’aller dormir, bonne nuit à tous (It’s time to go to sleep, good night everyone!)
  • Everyone: Bonne nuit!
bonne nuit à tous

The difference between bonne nuit and bonsoir

What Does “bonsoir” Mean?​

Bonsoir is a French greeting composed of two words bon and soir:

  • bon in French means good.
  • soir means evening in French.

When to use “bonsoir”?

Bonsoir is the equivalent of bonjour but used at night, after 6 pm! It is a polite French greeting word.

The difference

One major difference is that bonsoir can also be used to say goodbye, whereas bonjour never is.

This means that you can use bonsoir when you meet someone (evening hours), and at the same time, you can use bonsoir upon leaving (again not during the day).

Bonsoir is a French greeting and it’s one of the first words to learn. Check out our article on how to say goodbye in French. You’ll discover the different alternatives when saying Goodbye in French.

When not to use “bonne nuit” in French?

If you’re simply wishing good bye to someone in the evening and they’re not going to bed straight away, you have to use bonne soirée or bonsoir.

This means that if you’re not going to bed straight away it would be inappropriate to use bonne nuit.

If you’re wishing someone a good night out on the town you’d say “bonne soirée”, which also translates to “have a good evening”.

How to say I’m going to sleep in French?

Je vais dormir is the best way to say in French I’m going to sleep.

It’s an informal way to say you’re tired and you’re going to sleep.

This sentence is composed of three words:

  • je vais means I’m going to
  • dormir means to sleep

How to say have a good night for children?

To put children to bed, parents will use one of the following phrases:

  • il est l’heure d’aller au lit: it’s time to go to bed.
  • il est tard, il faut faire dodo: it’s late, it’s time for beddy-byes!

Faire dodo means to go to bed. 

This sentence is used by children and when speaking to children.

Besides it’s not uncommon to hear adults use it.

  • Ma fille fait dodo à 20 heures: My daughter goes night-night at 8.
bedtime girl

How to say I’m going to bed in French?

Je vais me coucher is a common way to say in French I’m going to bed.

It’s another unfamiliar way to say good night.

Se coucher is a reflexive verb and means putting myself to bed.

Generally, people will reply to you “bonne nuit” which means have a good night.

  • Je me couche à 23 heures: I go to bed at 11 pm.

How to say a night owl in French?

Night owl person in French translates to couche-tard.

While a couche-tard (night owl) is a person who tends to stay up until late at night, lève-tôt (early bird) is the word used to refer to someone who tends to wake up early in the morning.

Couche-tard is identical when used with masculine (un couche-tard) and feminine (une couche-tard).

You can say un couche-tard for masculine and une couche-tard  Here is a sentence that includes night owl in French:

  • Est-ce que vous êtes un couche-tard ou un lève-tôt? : Are you a night owl or a morning person?

As for the plural, it’s also written without the French plural -s: des couche-tard.

  • L’option mode sombre de nombreuses applications mobile, ou mode nuit, permet aux couche-tard d’éviter d’être éblouis en pleine nuit: The dark mode option of many mobile applications allows night owls to avoid being dazzled by glare at night.
girl night owl couche-tard

What you can respond when someone wishes you a good night?

Let’s see what you can use to reply to someone wishing you a good night. Here are a few options:

  • dors bien: sleep well!
  • dormez bien: plural form (sleep well!)
  • fais de beaux rêves: means sweet dreams and literally translates to make some beautiful dreams! This is usually used to tell younger people like your kid.
  • faites de beaux rêves: if you’re speaking to multiples persons such as the kids you would use this sentence.
  • je te/vous souhaite une bonne nuit de sommeil: Sleep well!

A visual summary of nighttime Expressions in French

The image below summarizes the numerous nighttime expressions in French.

To revisit some of the most popular expressions, check our guide to common French expressions.

good night sleep related expressions

Related expressions with the word sommeil

Avoir sommeil

  • J’ai sommeil: I’m sleepy

Avoir le sommeil léger

  • J’ai le sommeil léger: I’m a light sleeper

Avoir le sommeil lourd

  • J’ai le sommeil lourd: I’m a heavy sleeper

Avoir le sommeil agité

  • J’ai le sommeil agité: I am a restless sleeper

Related expressions with the word dormir

Bien dormir

  • Je dors bien: I sleep well

And its opposite

  • Je dors mal: I sleep poorly

When you’re too tired, you can say:

  • Je dors debout: I’m asleep on my feet

You can use one of the following phrases to speak about your sleep and to say you sleep very well:

  • je dors comme un bébé: I sleep like a baby
  • dormir comme un loir: sleep like a dormouse
  • dormir comme un ange: sleep like an angel
  • dormir comme un marmotte: sleep like a groundhog

Sleep-related French Expressions

Etre dans les bras de Morphée

When going to sleep young adults sometimes say:

  • Je vais dans les bras de Morphée

Morphée, in Greco-Roman mythology, is one of the sons of Hypnos. Hypnos is the god of sleep. Morpheus sends human shapes of all kinds to the dreamer. For example:

  • Il dort encore, il est dans les bras de Morphée: he’s still sleeping, he’s in the arms of Morpheus.

Le marchand de sable

Le marchand de sable is called the Sandman in English because it’s in reference to the Sandman of European tale who sprinkles sand to give good dreams to people sleeping.

  • Le marchand means the merchant.
  • Le sable means the sand.

Compter les moutons

Counting sheep is a mental exercise used as a means of putting oneself to sleep.

In most cases, people envision an endless series of identical white sheep jumping over a fence while counting them slowly as they do so.

compter les moutons

And before turning the lights off!

I hope you learned new expressions and terms related to sleep and night vocabulary.

Discover new expressions and building your vocabulary is important when learning French.

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