You are in the right place to find out everything you want to know about the basic French phrase “À vos souhaits”.
Are included a complete definition of what it is and how you can use it in a conversation with an audio example. Along with the cool informations we sprinkled like dialogue example, synonym, slow pronunciation audio and more!
The literal meaning is:
It’s the most classic way to say “Bless you” in French after someone sneezed. And it seems to come from the middle ages when sneezing was one of the first symptoms of the plague. So it was basically a way to say “I wish you not to be sick“
If you have to show some respect or be formal with the sneezing person, like a professor or an old person: use “À vos souhaits“. But if it’s a family member, a friend or someone that you are familiar with, you can use: “À tes souhaits“.
Same principle if the person sneezes a second time, use: “À tes amours” (Literally: To your loves) for the informal situation and “À vos amours” for the formal one.
For the third sneeze, in both situations you can say: “Qu’ils durent toujours” → May they (the loves) last forever.
“Ok but what if the person sneezes a fourth time?“
Wow… that’s rather unlikely! But if it happens, there is nothing special to say. Even though… if you really want to be funny, I heard a few times in this situation: “Que le bon Dieu te bénisse, et qu’il te change en pain d’épices” (Literally: May the good god bless you and turn you into gingerbread.)
As a joke, you can also use “À vos/tes souhaits” when someone mispronounced something or didn’t talk clearly, like if this person sneezed.
For example, if a friend mispronounced “Eiffel” and says: “J’adore la Tour Eirrel” (I’m fond of the Eirrel Tower) then you can tell her/him: “À tes souhaits !“.