With adults we don't know, my understanding is that we would generally address them with "vous" and "Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle", if we want to be polite (e.g. "excusez-moi, madame", "bonjour, monsieur", etc.)

However, while with children we would use "tu", what other words can we use to address them?

For instance, I' ve heard a couple of times people using "bonhomme" to address children (e.g. a child runs chaotically and bumps into someone by accident, the person will tell him "attention où tu vas, bonhomme!"). Are there other words like that to address children? I don't have a specific context in mind, that's why my question is quite general.


2 Answers 2


You use their first name if you know it.

If you don't, that might be (mon) bonhomme indeed but only for a young boy, also mon p'tit gars. Mademoiselle works for girls of any age (but no more for adults), jeune fille might also be heard.

Sometimes, you just say toi.

If you talk to a group, you can say vous or les enfants.

  • 2
    mon petiot, ma petiote. Peut-être un peu démodé ? Hier dans la rue je me suis adressé à un gamin que je ne connaissais pas avec "mon poussin".
    – None
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:11
  • 1
    @None Oui, ou Hé pitchoun ! ou pitchounette :-)
    – jlliagre
    Sep 21, 2023 at 12:10

To add to @jlliagre's answer, the endearing term "bout de chou" may work with young children.

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