Hello

As a traveler, it is always important to be able to greet people in their local language. Here is a guide on how to say “Hello” in some common languages. Bon voyage!

As we all know, saying “hello” or “hi” is the first step in establishing a connection with someone. Depending on the country or culture, there are many ways to say “hello” – some more formal than others. So, whether you’re traveling to a foreign country or just want to learn more about other cultures, knowing some greeting phrases in the most commonly spoken languages worldwide can always come in handy.

How to say “Hello” in…

French

Bonjour / Bonsoir

French’s most commonly used greeting is connected to the time of day. So, typically you would hear people saying “Bonjour” to you from morning until late afternoon. It translates to “Good day (to you).” Once the evening settles in, people move over to “Bonsoir,” meaning “Good evening.”

Salut

Many Non-French people think “salut” is the French version of the English “hi.” Well, although “salut” is an informal greeting used for relaxed settings, you’d make a big mistake using “salut” in scenarios where you’d usually also say “hi.” The French care a lot about social class. Therefore, “salut” is only used among peers, friends, and family – and never with strangers.

Coucou

This greeting is not only very informal and casual but also quite personal. Unfortunately, there’s no English equivalent, but some native speakers compare it tone-wise to the British English “toodle-oo” (which some use to say goodbye). So, if you want to greet someone with a “Coucou,” use it with close friends and family.

Enchanté(e) (de faire votre connaissance)

For business settings or any other formal occasion, “enchanté(e)” is a wise choice for a greeting. The complete phrase “enchanté(e) de faire votre connaissance” translates to “Nice/Pleasure to meet you.”

Ça va?

Similar to the English “How are you?” that passes as a greeting, so does the French “Ça va?” which means the same. 

Bienvenue

“Bienvenue” translates to “Welcome!” and is the ideal greeting upon someone’s arrival, especially after a long trip. 

Allô

“Allô” is a common (casual/neutral) greeting when answering the phone – and only on the phone. You wouldn’t hear this word in any other conversation. 

💡How to say “Goodbye” in French

  1. “Au revoir.” The standard go-to phrase to say goodbye. 
  2. “Salut” can be used for both a greeting and goodbye, although for the latter, it’s primarily used in informal situations. It means “bye.”
  3. “À plus tard!” – “See you later!”  
  4. “À tout à l’heure!” – “See you soon!” or “See you in a while!”
  5. “Je suis désolé(e), mais je dois y aller!” The idea behind this phrase is to use it when you have to say goodbye to someone even though you liked talking to them. It translates to “Sorry, but I have to go.”

German

Hallo

“Hallo” is the direct equivalent of the English “Hello” and “Hi.” Therefore, it can be used on the same occasions.

Guten Tag / Guten Morgen / Guten Abend / Gute Nacht

Similar to French, these greetings are connected to the time of day. So in the morning (usually until 10 am), Germans would say “Guten Morgen” (meaning “Good Morning”), then “Guten Tag” (“Good Day”), followed by “Guten Abend” (“Good Evening”), and “Gute Nacht” (“Good Night”). Whatever the occasion, you could nearly never go wrong with a “Guten Tag” during any time of the day. 

Servus

“Servus” is a bit of an informal greeting in the lower parts of Germany and the neighboring country Austria. Especially in the Austrian countryside, greeting someone with a “servus” is quite common. Still, for most parts of Germany, you might get curious looks.

Willkommen

“Willkommen” translates to “welcome.” You wouldn’t hear people greeting each other with a “Willkommen” but rather see it on signs or written somewhere in hotels where someone would be greeted upon arrival. 

💡How to say “Goodbye” in German

  1. “Auf Wiedersehen.” You can never go wrong with an “Auf Wiedersehen.” Simple and polite. It translates to “Farewell.”
  2. “Tschüss” translates to “bye.”
  3. “Ciao” originates from Italy, where it’s used for both a greeting and goodbye. In German-speaking countries, you commonly hear it as often as a “Tschüss” to say goodbye.  
  4. “Bis später.” – “See you later.”
  5. “Auf Wiederhören.” It is a common phrase to say goodbye on the phone. It essentially means “Talk to you soon.”

Spanish

Hola

This is the most common translation of the English “Hello.” You can also always combine it with any of the greetings below. 

Buenos días / Buenas tardes / Buenas noches

Same as in French and German. Use the phrases depending on the time of the day. 

“Buenos días” = “Good morning.”

“Buenos tardes” = “Good afternoon.”

“Buenos noches” = “Good evening/night.”

¿Cómo estás?

Similar to the French “Ça va?” it means “How are you?” and is used as an informal greeting. 

¿Cómo está?

Same as the phrase above, however it is the formal way of asking somebody how they feel. It’s commonly reserved for speaking to the elderly as a sign of respect.

Bienvenidos

It translates to the English “Welcome” and is used for someone who just arrived from somewhere.

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Spanish

  1. “Adiós.” The most common and standard goodbye.
  2. “Hasta luego” is the informal goodbye phrase that translates to “until then.” Compared to a “see you later,” “hasta luego” can be used even though you don’t plan on seeing the other person again. It’s one of the most common phrases in Spanish.
  3. “Hasta mañana” is perfect for coworkers or any other person you’ll see the next day again since the phrase literally translates to “until tomorrow.”
  4. “Hasta la vista” is quite famous for a specific movie and its actor. Still, in real life, this phrase is instead used as an informal way to say goodbye. It literally translates to “until the view” but means “Until we see each other again.” 
  5. “Cuídese/Cuídate” “Cuídese” is the formal way to say “take care,” while “cuídate” is the informal version. 

Italian

Salve!

“Salve” is a safe choice when greeting strangers or people you’re unfamiliar with. Compared to “ciao,” “salve” should be your go-to.

Buongiorno/ Buon pommerigio / Buonasera/Buonanotte

These Italian greeting phrases depend on the time of the day. 

“Buongiorno” = “Good morning. / Good day.”

“Buon pommerigio” = “Good afternoon.”

“Buonasera” = “Good evening.”

“Buonanotte” = “Good night.”

Come stai?

Although it’s pretty common, it’s actually considered to be relatively informal. It translates to “How are you?” 

For a slightly more formal or respectful tone, you can change it to “Come sta” (without the “i” at the end) for the Italian formal “you.” 

Ciao

For non-native speakers, “ciao” seems to be to standard phrase for greeting someone. But Italy begs to differ. Actually, depending on the part of Italy. In most parts of the country, it’s regarded as highly informal due to its origin and history (it originates from the old Venetian phrase “scia’o vostro,” which translates to “I am your slave.”) To be on the safe side, simply never use this word with strangers or people you’re not close with. But with good friends and family, you should be fine greeting them with a “ciao.”

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Italian

  1. “A presto!” means “See you soon!”
  2. “Fai il bravo!” is an excellent way to say goodbye to a friend or family member. It means “Be good!”
  3. “A dopo” is ideal if you plan to see the other person again soon. It translates to “See you later!”
  4. “Arrivederci” translates to “Until we see each other again” and can come off as quite dramatic when used with friends or your family. For many formal or polite situations, like business calls, a “Grazie, arrivederci!” (“Thank you, goodbye!”) is totally fine, though.
  5. “Buona giornata / Buona serata” is the most common way to say goodbye to someone in day-to-day life. “Buona giornata” means “Have a nice day,” while “Buona serata” translates to “Have a nice evening.”

Danish

Hej

Is the Danish equivalent of the English “Hello.” It’s perfect for any situation – formal or informal. 

God morgon/ God dag / God eftermiddag

These Danish greeting phrases depend on the time of the day. 

“God morgon” = “Good morning.”

“God dag” = “Good day.”

“God eftermiddag” = “Good afternoon.”

Hallå

“Hallå” translates to a simple “Hello” and is typically used when answering a phone call. 

Shobre

“Shobre” is a highly casual and slang-ish phrase that means “What’s up?” Just to be safe: only use it with close friends. 

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Danish

  1. “Hej hej” means “Bye bye” and is best for informal and casual situations.
  2. “Vi ses!” translates to “See you later!”
  3. “Ses” is a casual “See ya!”
  4. “Farvel” is reserved for formal situations like with your boss, the elderly, or any other person you’re not on a first-name basis. It’s the Danish equivalent to the English “Farewell.” 
  5. “Ha’ en god dag!” is the most common way in day-to-day life when saying goodbye to someone. It translates to “Have a good day!”

Norwegian

Hei

Similar to the Danish “Hej,” “Hei” is the Norwegian equivalent of the English “Hello.” And again, it’s perfect for any situation – formal or informal. 

God morgen/ God dag / God ettermiddag / God kveld

These Norwegian greeting phrases depend on the time of the day. 

“God morgen” = “Good morning.”

“God dag” = “Good day.”

“God ettermiddag” = “Good afternoon.”

“God kveld” = “Good evening.”

Hva skjer?

This is a typical casual greeting among friends, peers, and family. It means “What’s up?” or “What’s going on in life?” and serves as a greeting only that expects no answer. 

Lenge siden sist.

Do you want a phrase that means “Long time, no see!”? Here it is!

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Norwegian

  1. “Ha det bra” literally translates to “Have it good!” but means “Goodbye.” It’s perfect for any situation.
  2. “Ha det!” translates to “Have it!” but means a casual “Bye!”
  3. “Vi ses” is a casual “See you!”
  4. “Morna” is another very casual “Bye!”
  5. “Ha en god dag!” translates to “Have a good day!”

Swedish

Hej

Unless you’re talking to a king, where you’d be better of with a “God dag ers majestät” (“Good day, your majesty!”), a simple “Hej” is ideal for any situation in day-to-day life. 

God morgon/ God dag / God eftermiddag / God kväll

These Swedish greeting phrases depend on the time of the day. 

“God morgon” = “Good morning.”

“God dag” = “Good day.”

“God eftermiddag” = “Good afternoon.”

“God kväll” = “Good evening.”

Hejsan / Hej hej

“Hejsan” and “hej hej” are two alternatives to standard “hej.” Essentially, they all mean the same and can be applied to the same situations.

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Swedish

  1. “Hej då” is the most common and straightforward way to say goodbye. It’s also applicable in any situation.
  2. “Ha det bra!” translates to “Have it good!”
  3. “Vi ses!” is a casual “See you later!”
  4. “Vi hörs!” translates to “We’ll hear from each other!” and means “Talk later!”
  5. “Ses imorgon!” translates to “See you tomorrow!” 

Turkish

Merhaba

“Merhaba” is the standard phrase for greeting someone. You can use it at any time and in any context, which makes it perfect if you’re unsure how to properly and respectfully greet someone.

Günaydın/ İyi günler / İyi akşamlar

These Turkish greeting phrases depend on the time of the day. 

“Günaydın” = “Good morning.”

“İyi günler” = “Good day.”

“İyi akşamlar” = “Good evening.”

Selam

“Selam” is the Turkish standard for saying “hi” and is also as common as greeting someone with “Merhaba.” It’s only a little less formal than “Merhaba.”

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Turkish

  1. “Hoşça kalın” is the standard way to say goodbye. It can be used at any time for farewell.
  2. “Allah’a ısmarladık” translates to “May Allah keep you safe” and is another typical Turkish goodbye.
  3. “Hoşça kal” is the casual and shortened version of “Hoşça kalın” and simply means “Bye.” (the literal translation would be “Stay good”)
  4. “Görüşürüz” = “See you!”
  5. İyi günler / İyi geceler” = “Good day / Good night” (you can use both phrases for a greeting and goodbye)

Ukrainian

Добрий день! (dobryi den’) 

“Добрий день!” (dobryi den’) is the most common greeting phrase for day-to-day life. It is a polite way to say “hello” or “good day.” Feel free to say it wherever you go until it gets dark outside (where you then would have to switch to the “good evening” version shown below).

Доброго ранку! (dobroho ranku)

This phrase means “Good morning” and is acceptable to use until 12 pm.

Добрий вечір (dobryi vechir)

“Добрий вечір” (dobryi vechir) means “Good evening!” and is used ideally once the sun goes down. 

Привіт! (pryvit)

If you’re looking for a common way to greet your friends with a “Hi,” then “Привіт!” (pryvit) is the word to use.

Ласкаво просимо! (laskavo prosymo)

When welcoming guests upon their arrival, you’ll probably hear (or read on signs) “Ласкаво просимо!” meaning “Welcome!” in English.

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Ukrainian

  1. “Бувай!” (buvaj) is the standard but an informal or casual way to say “Bye” to your friends, family, and peers.
  2. “До побачення!” (do pobachenn’a) translates to a polite and friendly “to be seeing again.” It’s actually a common and formal way to say goodbye in Ukrainian.
  3. “До зустрічі!” (do zustrichi) is a neutral (so neither formal nor informal) expression that means “See you later!”
  4. “Па-па!” (pa-pa) is a sweet and friendly way to say “Bye bye!”

Korean

The Bow

In Korean culture, formality, respect, and etiquette are highly valued. The act of bowing is part of this etiquette and, therefore, the norm for basic greetings. Posture is essential for a proper bow. There are five kinds of bows, depending on the level of respect and formality. 

  • The Casual Bow is shared among friends and similarly ranked colleagues at work. 
  • The Respectful Bow (30° ~ 45°) is the go-to bow and the standard in day-to-day life. It’s important to remember that the bow always starts at the waist, not the neck, while your arms stay at the sides.
  • The “Belly-button” Bow is similar to the “Respectful Bow,” but with the difference that you place both your hands over your belly button area. This is a common type of bow used by people in uniforms, like flight attendants and salespeople.
  • The 90° Bow isn’t called “90°” without reason. Your back is literally bent at 90° with the intention to show obedience and service.
  • The Big Bow is the ultimate sign of respect. It’s typically reserved for special occasions like weddings, funerals, ancestral rites, greeting your elders after a very long time, or when you want to show extreme gratitude or remorse.

안녕하세요! (Annyeong Haseyo!)

Although Koreans do have various greetings depending on the time of day, you could also just use 안녕하세요! (Annyeong Haseyo!) instead. It means a polite and respectful “Hello” or “Hi.” 

녕하십니까 (Annyeong Hasimnikka)

This is the standard and formal way to bid someone a “Good day” or say a polite “Hello.” 

안녕! (Annyeong!)

“안녕!” (Annyeong!) is the casual or informal way to say “Hello” or “Hi” to someone. It’s common to use it with friends or people your age.

만나서 반갑습니다 (Mannaseo Bangapseumnida)

If you’re a foreigner or a tourist visiting Korea, this is a must-know phrase while you stay in this country. It means “Pleased to meet you” or “Nice to meet you.” And it is indeed a friendly and polite way to greet someone new.

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Korean

  1. “안녕히 계세요 (Annyeong Hi Gyeseyo)” is a polite way to say goodbye to someone if you are the one leaving. 
  2. “안녕히 가세요 (An Nyeong Hi Ga Se Yo)” is the ideal response to the phrase above for when you are the person staying behind. It translates to “Please stay well.”
  3. “잘 있어 (Jal Itsuh)” is a casual way to say “Bye (and stay well)” and hence perfect to use with friends. 

Japanese

The Bow

In Japan, bowing is just an essential part of its culture as in Korea. It is a sign of respect and should therefore be appreciated by foreigners and tourists. Same as in Korea, the proper posture is essential when bowing. There are three kinds of bows, depending on the level of respect and formality. 

  • 会釈 “Eshaku” (15°) is used among acquaintances and is a generally subtle but polite way to greet or thank someone.
  • 敬礼 “Keirei” (30°) is common in business situations or when speaking to someone of higher status. It’s important to remember that the bow always starts at the waist, not the neck, while your arms stay at the sides.
  • 最敬礼 “Saikeirei” (45°) is the politest and most formal of these three bows. It’s reserved for the most severe occasions when wanting to show respect to someone of very high status (such as the emperor) or when a big apology is necessary where you need to show your remorse and guilt. 

おはようございます (Ohayō gozaimasu)

If you want to greet someone with a polite “Good Morning,” then “おはようございます” (“Ohayō gozaimasu”) is the way to go. However, for a more casual “Good Morning” used between friends and family, you can leave out the “gozaimasu” part and just say “おはよう” (“Ohayō”) as a greeting.

こんにちわ (Konnichiwa)

This well-known greeting roughly translates to a friendly “Hello” or “Good day.” It’s commonly used during the daytime while the sun is still up since the phrase’s literal translation is “today” or “the sun.”

こんばんわ (Konbanwa)

Compared to “Konnichiwa,” “こんばんわ” (“Konbanwa”) sounds more formal and is therefore not so common among close friends or family. But, at the same time, you wouldn’t use it as an alternative to “Konnichiwa” simply because “Konbanwa” means “Good evening.”

もしもし (Moshi moshi)

“もしもし” (“Moshi moshi”) is the typical response when answering the phone. An alternative to that would be “はい” (“hai”), followed by your name or the name of your company if you’re doing a business call.

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Japanese

  1. 行ってきます & 行ってらしゃい (Ittekimasu & Itterasshai) are two versions of “goodbye” applied to the same situation: “Ittekimasu” (行ってきます) is used by the person who’s leaving. It translates to “I’ll go and come back.” The response to this for the person staying behind is “Itterasshai” (行ってらしゃい) which translates to “Go and come back safely.” It’s common to use these phrases when leaving your home.
  2. じゃあね (Ja ne) is the standard and casual way to say “See ya” to friends, family, and coworkers at the same level as you. Please don’t use it with your boss or a teacher, though.
  3. じゃあね is またね (Mata ne) is another casual way to say goodbye to friends, family, or anyone else in your closer social circle. It means “See you later.”
  4. 失礼します (Shitsurei shimasu) is the polite way to part ways with teachers, bosses, and people above your social status. It literally translates to “I will be rude” and means that you excuse yourself for leaving.

Chinese

您好 (nín hǎo) 

“您好” (nín hǎo) is the polite version of “你好” (nǐ hǎo) and translates to “You good” but means “Hello.” It’s not common among friends, but it’s OK to use it when meeting someone new.

早上好 (zǎoshànghǎo)

For a friendly and formal “Good Morning,” simply say “早上好” (zǎoshànghǎo). The shorted version “早” (zǎo) is reserved for friends and family since it’s the Chinese equivalent of the English “Mornin’,” which you wouldn’t want to use for your boss or teacher. 

下午好 (Xiàwǔhǎo)

Once the morning is over, you can greet people with a friendly “下午好” (Xiàwǔhǎo) which means “Good afternoon.”

晚上好 (Wǎnshànghǎo)

To wish someone a “Good evening,” say “晚上好” (Wǎnshànghǎo).

喂 (Wéi)

“喂” (wéi) is used exclusively when answering the phone. It means “Hello.”

💡How to say “Goodbye” in Chinese

  1. “再见” (zài jiàn) is the standard way to say goodbye. It means “See you again.”
  2. “拜拜” (bái bái) is also frequently used for a casual “bye-bye.”
  3. “我不得不说再见了” (wǒ bù dé bù shuō zài jiàn le) is a friendly way to say goodbye. It translates to “I have no choice but to say goodbye.”
  4. “失陪了” (shī péi le) is the most polite and formal way to leave a social setting. It means, “Excuse me, I must leave.”

(American) Sign Language (ASL)

“Hello”

Use your dominant hand (usually the one you use for writing), and bring it to your forehead with fingers extended and your thumb touching your palm. Now, move your hand forward, just like you’re saluting someone. And don’t forget to smile 🙂  

💡How to sign “Goodbye” in ASL

Again, take your dominant hand and slightly wave to sign “Goodbye.”

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