May 2, 2022 by Luis F. Dominguez Spanish Instruction, Spanish Vocabulary 2 comments
Have you ever tried to start a conversation with a native Spanish speaker but didn’t know how to do it?
That’s normal and just part of the struggles every new learner of the language has to go through.
Luckily, I’m here to help by introducing you to the most common and useful Spanish greetings and farewells.
Keep reading to learn why greetings are so important in Spanish, the main types of Spanish greetings, and—most importantly—how to use them.
Table of Contents:
- Why Greetings in Spanish Matter
- Initial Greetings
- Secondary Greetings
- Letter and Email Greetings
- Phone Greetings
- Practice These Spanish Greetings and Improve Your Spanish
Why Greetings in Spanish Matter
Greetings are a critical part of our conversations in any language. They are like a key that opens endless doors—and those doors are actually new people, new conversations, new connections.
However, Spanish greetings are particularly crucial, due to the importance given to personal relationships in this culture. If you’ve ever seen two Argentinians greet each other and compare that to how two Germans greet each other, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
The effusivity of the Latin greeting tells a lot about the importance given to it in the Spanish and Latin American cultures.
Just remember that in Spanish there are formal and informal “you” conjugations. Depending on the situation, you may have to use one or another. With this in mind, I specify which type of “you” is required in any given situation.
These are the greetings that open up conversations and shrink the distance between two people. As their name implies, these are the greetings that start a conversation.
Hola – Hello, hi
Hola is the most common Spanish greeting.
Although it’s considered informal by some, in reality you can say it to your best friend or to a complete stranger. It’s one of the best conversation starters in Spanish and it’s usually followed by one of the questioning greetings included below.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hello, how are you?
Buenos días – Good morning
Say buenos días from the early morning and all the way to noon. This basic phrase is more formal than a simple hola, but still can be used in informal contexts.
¡Buenos días vecino; disfrute su domingo!
Good morning neighbor; enjoy your Sunday!
Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
Use buenas tardes from noon to sunset, although between 6 pm and 8 pm different people would either say buenas tardes or buenas noches (good night) depending on the amount of daylight and country of origin.
Sadly, Spanish doesn’t have the equivalent of “good evening” that would solve this issue.
Buenas tardes, ¿me puede decir a qué hora llega el siguiente tren?
Good afternoon, can you tell me at what time the next train arrives?
Buenas noches – Good night
Use this phrase after sunset to greet someone. It also serves as a farewell. Like buenos días, it works in both formal and informal situations.
Buenas noches, me voy a dormir.
Good night, I’m going to sleep,
Also known as “checking-in greetings,” these are the questions you use in Spanish to “check” how the other person is. It’s a common way to express your interest in the other person in a polite way.
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
Arguably the most common questioning greeting in Spanish. ¿Cómo estás? usually comes after one of the initial greetings.
Although you’re asking about the other person’s mood and condition, an answer isn’t always expected. It’s an informal greeting, but if you change it just a little bit to ¿cómo está? it becomes a formal greeting.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hi, how are you?
¿Qué tal? – How are you?
¿Qué tal? means pretty much the same thing as ¿cómo estás?, although you can add “how’s it going?” or “how are things?” as possible translations.
If anything, it’s more common to hear ¿qué tal? In Spain than in Latin America. Read this post about the differences between ¿qué tal? and ¿cómo estás?
Hola, ¿qué tal?
Hello, how’s it going?
¿Cómo te va? – How are you doing?
Here’s a list of questions that basically express the same idea as ¿cómo estás?.
¿Cómo te va? is one of the most popular ones.
|¿qué haces?||what are you up to?|
|¿cómo va tu día?||how is your day going?|
|¿qué hay?||what’s up?|
|¿qué hay de nuevo?||what’s new?|
|¿qué pasa?||what’s up?|
|¿cómo va todo?||how’s everything going?|
|¿qué onda? (slang)||what’s up?|
|¿quiubo? (slang)||what’s up?|
When talking about Spanish greetings, it’s essential to consider goodbyes. They’re part of the same type of vocabulary you need to learn to master your conversations in Spanish.
Let’s take a look now at some of the most common farewells in Spanish.
|nos vemos al rato||see you later|
|nos estamos viendo||see you around|
|hasta luego||see you later|
|hasta mañana||see you tomorrow|
|hasta pronto||see you soon|
|hasta la vista||see you soon|
|que descanses||rest up|
|que tenga un buen día||have a good day|
Letter and Email Greetings
When writing a formal letter or a business email, you need to use a formal vocabulary and specific Spanish greetings. Here are some of the most common ones:
|Estimado Señor/Señora/Señorita _____||Dear Mr./Mrs/ Miss _____|
|A quien corresponda||To whom it may concern|
|Reciba un cordial saludo||I give you a warm greeting|
|Un cordial saludo||Cordial greetings|
|Le saludo atentamente||Yours faithfully|
|Un saludo afectuoso||Warm wishes|
What do you say when you answer the phone in Spanish? If you aren’t sure, you’ll find the next table helpful.
Practice These Spanish Greetings and Improve Your Spanish
Learning these useful Spanish greetings will take your conversations to the next level and get you one step closer to achieving Spanish fluency. If you have kids or young students, show them this fun video about Spanish greetings for kids. Once you watch it, practice the greetings with them using strategies such as flashcards or singing a Spanish greetings song.
Remember that speaking Spanish has many benefits, including making traveling to Latin American countries easier and opening the door to better jobs.
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Luis F. Dominguez
Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy
Luis F. Domínguez is a freelance writer and independent journalist interested in travel, languages, art, books, history, philosophy, politics and sports. He has written for Fodor’s, Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated, Telemundo, and Villa Experience, among other brands of print and digital media in Europe and North America.
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learn Spanish spanish vocabulary
Hola - Hello/hi (the most common greeting) Buenas tardes - Good afternoon/evening. Hey - Hi (variant) Buenas noches - Good night. Saludos - Greetings.What is a common Spanish greeting? ›
Hola - Hello/hi (the most common greeting) Buenas tardes - Good afternoon/evening. Hey - Hi (variant) Buenas noches - Good night. Saludos - Greetings.What are 3 greetings that give a time of day in Spanish? ›
|Buenos días||Good morning||Mornings (until 12:00 p.m. noon)|
|Buenas tardes||Good afternoon||Until the sun goes down / depends on the country|
|Buenas noches||Good night/Good evening||After the sun goes down / after dinnertime; could be used as a farewell|
“Hola” is a greeting suitable for any time of the day. This word can be translated into English as “hello” or “hi”. Can you use the word “hola” with strangers? “Hola” is a totally neutral greetings that you can use in formal and informal situations.Is Como estas a greeting? ›
It's an informal greeting, but if you change it just a little bit to ¿cómo está? it becomes a formal greeting. Hola, ¿cómo estás? Hi, how are you?How to introduce yourself Spanish? ›
The most common way to introduce yourself in Spanish is to say "Me llamo" followed by your name. Alternatives include "Mi nombre es" or "Soy" followed by your name. "Hola" can be used for either "hi" or "hello."What are examples of greetings to a letter in Spanish? ›
To start an informal letter, you'd normally use the form of address, Querido (dear). For example: Querido Juan: (Dear Juan) Querida Ana: (Dear Ana)What Spanish greeting would you use at 6 am? ›
1.1 Greetings in Spanish
Use the following phrases to say hello to someone in Spanish. Also check: In Spanish, we say Buenos días from 6 am to 12 pm (before lunch). People say Buenas tardes after having lunch until 8 pm (approximately).
- Buenos días means "hello" and "good morning."
- Buenas tardes means "good afternoon," so you should start using it around 1pm.
- Buenas noches means "good evening" (as a greeting) starting around 6pm or "good night" (as a valediction).
- Hola is an informal greeting, "hi," that you can use at any time of day.
- Good morning/afternoon/evening. These are classic, formal phrases to use when greeting someone, whether it's the first time meeting them or if you've already met them before. ...
- Pleased to meet you. ...
- It's nice to meet you. ...
- It's good to see you. ...
- How are you? ...
- Hey. ...
- What's up? ...
- What's new?
Good morning is buenos días.How do you greet someone in a day? ›
- Hello! In formal greetings examples, hello is preferred to “hi” or “hey.”
- Hi there. ...
- Good morning. ...
- Good afternoon. ...
- Good evening. ...
- It's nice to meet you. ...
- It's a pleasure to meet you.
- ¿Qué tal?
- ¿Cómo vas?
- ¿Qué hay de nuevo?
- ¿Qué cuentas?
- ¿Cómo andas?
- ¿Qué pasa?
- Say it the Mexican way.
- ¿Todo bien?
|English||Spanish – Informal|
|Good morning||Buenos días|
|Good afternoon/ Good evening||Buenas tardes|
|Good evening/ good night||Buenas noches|
How do you answer if someone asks you, "¿Cómo estás?" or "How are you?"? The standard answer is probably "Bien" ("Fine") or "Muy bien" ("Very good"). Of course, both of those responses are often expanded: "Muy bien, gracias.What does Chulo mean in Spanish slang? ›
In Mexican Spanish, chulo/chula is the word you're looking to use if you find something (or someone, but in a kind, non-sexual nor romantic way) really pretty. Use it to compliment a part of someone's outfit or to tell someone you think they look cute today.
Al mal tiempo, buena cara. This phrase is one of the most popular Spanish sayings. It reminds us that even if we have problems and things go wrong, everything will work out better with a positive attitude. It is a way of saying that with a smile, everything looks better.What is the best Spanish introduction? ›
|Juan:||Mi nombre es Juan. ¿ tú?||My name is Juan. And you?|
|Pedro:||Me llamo Pedro.||My name is Pedro.|
|Juan:||Mucho gusto, Pedro.||Nice to meet you, Pedro.|
|Pedro:||El gusto es mío.||The pleasure is all mine.|
Pronounced: Moo-cho Goo-stow. This phrase means “nice to meet you.” It is obviously used when you're meeting someone for the first time.
Salutations for business letters
The most formal salutation is Dear, [title], then the last name. If you're unsure of the person's pronouns, it's a good idea to use Dear [First and last name] or Dear [First name]. When you don't know the recipient's name, you can use Hello or Greetings.
- "Dear [first name]"
- "I hope this email finds you well"
- "Hello or hi"
- "Hope you're having a great week"
- "[First name]"
The greeting of a friendly letter always starts with 'Dear' followed by the person's name to whom you are writing the letter. In the below example, the greeting is 'Dear Jason. ' The greeting is followed by a comma, then a skipped line.What does Como estás mean? ›
¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)¿Is como se llama formal? ›
In this episode of Coffee Break Spanish To Go, Marina asks the question, ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama usted? (formal). You can use the answers of our interviewees to help you learn to introduce yourself in Spanish.How do you greet and introduce in Spanish? ›
To introduce yourself, you can start with a phrase like “HOLA” or “BUENOS DIAS”. Then, you can say your name with: [ME LLAMO + NOMBRE] or [MI NOMBRE ES + NOMBRE] as in this example: “¡Hola! Me llamo Alex”. You can also say your name using the verb SER with the structure [YO SOY + NOMBRE] as in “Yo soy Alex”.Can Buenos días be a farewell? ›
Often the greetings “buenos días”, “buenas tardes” and “buenas noches” are also used to say goodbye as they can be appropriate in several contexts such as when kids go to bed at night or when we finish a conversation on the phone.What does y saludos mean? ›
regards [noun plural] greetings; good wishes.Is saludos goodbye? ›
Using "Saludos a" to Say Goodbye
"Hi" Neutral and Informal. "Hey" Informal. Good Bye,greeting used while leaving each other. "Good [morning, afternoon, evening,night], Formal , which changes with the time of day. "What's up?", "Yo", "What's up?", "'Sup" and "What's happening?", which are not formal.What is the most respectful greeting? ›
How do you respectfully greet someone? The most respectful greetings are formal ones like "hello," or time-related greetings like "good morning" or "good evening." To make it even more respectful, add the listener's formal title afterwards, like "hello, Mr. or Mrs. ______," or even "hello, sir or ma'am."
Greetings for certain moments of the day
“Bom dia” literally means “good day," but you'd only use it to say “good morning” in Portuguese. Note that Brazilians pronounce “dia” like “jee-ah” while the Portuguese say “dee-ah.” Boa tarde.
- Hello. This is the most basic greeting in English. ...
- Hi. ...
- Hey. ...
- Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening. ...
- Note: We use "good night" to say goodbye, but we can never use "good night" to say hello. ...
- It's nice to meet you. ...
- It's a pleasure to meet you. ...
- It's good to see you again.
|Greeting||Usage (Oral / Written)||Language Register|
|Good morning / day / evening||Written and Oral||Formal – Neutral|
|Hello (+ Mr. X / Mrs. X / Miss X / Ms. X)||Written and Oral||Formal|
|Hello||Written and Oral||Neutral|
|Hello (+ First name)||Written and Oral||Neutral – Informal|
Refers to how you are as a person — your physical or personality traits. ¿Cómo estás refers to how you are currently — the way you are feeling at the moment. This difference exists because of the two Spanish verbs for to be: ser and estar.What is a more informal way of asking como estas? ›
|1||¿Cómo estas?||How are you? (informal)|
|2||¿Cómo esta usted?||How are you? (formal)|
|3||¿Cómo van las cosas?||How are things going? (neutral)|
|4||¿Cómo va todo?||How is everything going? (neutral)|
Estoy bien. Nothing. I'm fine.How do you say hello in Mexican slang? ›
A more casual greeting is “Hola” (Hello), “¿Qué tal?” (What's up?) or “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?).How do you say hello in Spanish slang? ›
Casual and informal greetings in Spanish
¡Hola, hola! Hey! ¡Oye!
The same rules of plural or formal context apply: “¿Como han estado?” for the plural and, “¿Como ha estado?” for a more formal greeting.
The common verbal greeting is “Buenos dias” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (Good evening/night) depending on the time of day. People may also say “¿Como está?” (How are you). A more casual greeting is “Hola” (Hello).What do you say after Mucho Gracias? ›
When one says “muchas gracias por tu ayuda”, you can respond with “oh, está bien”.How do you respond to I'm fine? ›
I'm good, thanks. I'm well. I'm doing well, thanks So far, so good!What are three ways to say hello in Spanish? ›
- 1- Hola. It means “hello” or “hi” in Spanish and, as we've already mentioned, this word is the most common Spanish greeting and can be used at all times.
- 2- Buenos días. ...
- 3- Buenas tardes. ...
- 4- Buenas noches. ...
- 5- Ey. ...
- 1- ¿Cómo estás? ...
- 2- ¿Qué tal? ...
- 3- ¿Qué pasa?
- Hola – Hello.
- Buenas – Hi (informal)
- Buenos días – Good morning.
- Buen día – Good morning (less common, used in Argentina)
- Buenas tardes – Good afternoon.
- Buenas noches – Good evening.
- Bienvenido – Welcome.
If in passing someone says “hola!” to you, it would acceptable to reply: “como estas?”How do Spanish speakers greet each other physically? ›
Spaniards greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. It is likely that even if you just get introduced to someone, they will just reach out to kiss you on the cheek. This does not happen among men but mostly among women and between men and women. A handshake is the rule of thumb, though.How to respond to como estas? ›
How do you answer if someone asks you, "¿Cómo estás?" or "How are you?"? The standard answer is probably "Bien" ("Fine") or "Muy bien" ("Very good"). Of course, both of those responses are often expanded: "Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?" ("Quite well, thank you.Can you say buenos días as a goodbye? ›
Often the greetings “buenos días”, “buenas tardes” and “buenas noches” are also used to say goodbye as they can be appropriate in several contexts such as when kids go to bed at night or when we finish a conversation on the phone.Can Hola mean goodbye? ›
For verbal greeting, “¡Hola!” is used as a valid and neutral greeting almost any occasion yet on formal occasions, it will be more correct to use expressions like “¡Buenos días!”, “¡Buenas tardes!” and “¡Buenas noches!” which also can be used to say goodbye.
Mucho gusto ("a pleasure to meet you")
Mucho gusto is what people say immediately after an introduction. In English, we would say "a pleasure to meet you." A common response to mucho gusto is el gusto es mío (literally, "the pleasure is mine").
¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)Why do Spanish people just say Buenas? ›
Fun fact: One curious detail is that buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches are formal ways to greet in Spanish, but when Spanish natives want to greet friends or family or neighbors in an informal way, they will just say “buenas” or "cómo le va" as an alternative to “hola”.Is muy bien formal or informal? ›
Greetings in Spanish.
|English||Spanish – Informal||Spanish – Formal|
|Fine (thanks), and you?||Bien (gracias), ¿y tú?||Bien (gracias), ¿y usted?|
|Very well||Muy bien|
|I'm glad for you||Me alegro|
Shake hands with everyone present--men, women and children--at a business or social meeting. Shake hands again when leaving. Men may embrace each other when meeting (friends and family only). Women may kiss each other on the cheek and embrace.How do you greet a guest in Spanish? ›
- Hola — Hello. This is the most basic of the greetings, and can be combined with any of the other ones found below. ...
- Buenos días — Good morning. ...
- Buenas tardes — Good afternoon. ...
- Buenas noches — Good evening. ...
- ¿Cómo está? ...
- ¿Cómo estás? ...
- ¿Cómo están? ...
- ¿Qué tal?