How to say “Hello” – Greetings in German


Greetings make the world so much friendlier and kinder, even in German.

You indeed use them every day, maybe even several times a day. 

They are the beginning of almost every conversation. 

And sometimes, they just communicate your presence in a room to others. 

Greetings are the absolute basics of every language, and you can’t avoid learning them.  

And they are also today’s topic, so let me show you how to greet people in German in many different ways. 

The ultimate greetings in German

Whether you see your partner, meet your best friend, a professor, a cashier in a shop, or a stranger on the street –  it is always a good option to say “Hallo”, which means “Hello”. 

Other ultimate greetings you may use, whoever you are talking to are:

🇩🇪 Guten Morgen! – 🇺🇸 Good morning!
🇩🇪 Guten Tag! – 🇺🇸 Good day!
🇩🇪 Guten Nachmittag! – 🇺🇸 Good afternoon!
🇩🇪 Guten Abend! – 🇺🇸 Good evening!

You should definitely use these phrases while talking to

  • a stranger
  • a person older than you
  • a person who has a higher position than you 

They are also perfectly fine when you are talking to your family members or friends, but it is more usual to say “Hi” or “Hey” in these cases. 

In Germany, it is common to abbreviate the ultimate greetings you just learned. Therefore, you might hear Germans say:

🇩🇪 ‘n Morgen! – 🇺🇸 Good morning!
🇩🇪 ‘n Tag – 🇺🇸 Good day!
🇩🇪 ‘n Abend – 🇺🇸 Good evening!

As you may have already guessed – they cut the word “Guten” to just one letter – “n”.

*Culture note: It is quite common to simply say hello and goodbye to strangers in Germany, where you might not typically do so in Britain or the US. For example, entering a lift and even going into a doctor’s waiting room you greet the waiting patients.

So don’t be surprised if this happens – they don’t want to become your new best friend!

According to the situation, you may add:

🇩🇪 Freut mich, Dich (or Sie) kennenzulernen! – 🇺🇸 Nice to meet you!
🇩🇪 Schön, Dich zu sehen! – 🇺🇸 Nice to see you!
🇩🇪 Lange nicht gesehen! – 🇺🇸 Long time no see!

The German greeting itself

🇩🇪 (be)grüßen 🇺🇸 to greet

Unlike the word “to greet” in English, the term “grüßen” is also often used in daily life. Here are some more examples of greetings in German: 

🇩🇪 Grüß Dich! – 🇺🇸 Hello there!
🇩🇪 Grüß Gott! – 🇺🇸 Good morning/day/evening!
🇩🇪 Liebe Grüße an Deine Tochter! – 🇺🇸 Say hello to your daughter from me!

This word is also mainly used as an ending of e-mails or letters:

🇩🇪 Liebe Grüße – 🇺🇸 Lots of love
🇩🇪 Viele Grüße 🇺🇸 Best wishes
🇩🇪 Mit freundlichen Grüßen – 🇺🇸 Yours sincerely

In life, there are just as many goodbyes as there are hellos, so now let us look at the

Farewells in German

The German opposite equivalent to “Hallo” is

🇩🇪 Tschüss! – 🇺🇸 Bye! 

Like “Hallo”, you can use this phrase, regardless of who you are talking to. It is okay to say it to your teacher, brother, or office worker. 

If you want to sound a bit more formal, you can say: 

🇩🇪 Auf Wiedersehen! – 🇺🇸 Goodbye!

A phrase that is just a little more casual than “Tschüss!” is

🇩🇪 Ciao! – 🇺🇸 Bye!

As you can see, the meaning is the same, but it is not appropriate to say “Ciao!” to, e.g., a police officer, president, or an unknown professor. Instead, it is addressed to your friends or family. 

What else can you say to them?

🇩🇪 Tschau! – 🇺🇸 Bye!
🇩🇪 Bis dann! – 🇺🇸 See you!
🇩🇪 Bis später! – 🇺🇸 See you later!
🇩🇪 Mach’s gut!  – 🇺🇸 Take care!
🇩🇪 Bis morgen! – 🇺🇸 See you tomorrow! 
🇩🇪 Bis Samstag! – 🇺🇸 See you on Saturday!
🇩🇪 Bis bald! 🇺🇸 See you soon!
🇩🇪 Schönen Tag noch! – 🇺🇸 Have a nice day!
🇩🇪 Schönes Wochenende! – 🇺🇸 Have a nice weekend!

What to say after the greeting in German?

How about some small talk after you have greeted someone? 

Sometimes it is nice to begin a day with a little conversation with a co-worker or ask a friend you have not seen for months how he is doing. 

Small talk phrases

🇩🇪 Wie geht es Dir? – 🇺🇸 How are you?
🇩🇪 Wie geht’s? – 🇺🇸 How is it going?
🇩🇪 Was geht? 🇺🇸 What’s up?
🇩🇪 Wie geht’s Deiner Mutter? – 🇺🇸 How is your mother doing?
🇩🇪 Wie war Dein Tag? 🇺🇸 How was your day?
🇩🇪 Wie war Dein Wochenende? – 🇺🇸 How was your weekend?

You should only use “Was geht?” when talking to your friends because it is very colloquial. All of the other phrases can be used in casual and formal conversations. 

How to answer these questions? Here are my suggestions:

🇩🇪 Mir geht es gut, danke. Und wie geht es Dir?
🇺🇸 I am fine, thank you. And how are you?

🇩🇪 Heute nicht so gut. Ich habe Kopfschmerzen.
🇺🇸 Not that good today. I have a headache.

🇩🇪 Meiner Mutter geht es schon viel besser. Danke für die Nachfrage. 
🇺🇸 My mother is getting better. Thank you for asking. 

🇩🇪 Mein Tag war schön. Ich hatte heute frei. 
🇺🇸 My day was lovely. I had a day off. 

🇩🇪 Ich hatte ein tolles Wochenende. Es war sonnig und wir waren wandern.
🇺🇸 I had a great weekend. It was sunny, and we went hiking. 

Having dinner in German

Whether you are going to a restaurant or have an invitation for dinner at your friend’s house, it is important to be polite. I will show you some expressions, which will make these situations easier for you.  

🇩🇪 Herzlich Willkommen!
🇺🇸 Welcome!

🇩🇪 Ihr Tisch ist am Fenster.
🇺🇸 Your table is by the window. 

🇩🇪 Kann ich die Speisekarte haben?
🇺🇸 Can I have the menu?

🇩🇪 Was möchten Sie trinken?
🇺🇸 What would you like to drink?

🇩🇪 Wo ist die Toilette?
🇺🇸 Where is the toilet?

🇩🇪 Das Essen war sehr lecker!
🇺🇸 The food was delicious!

🇩🇪 Ich hätte gerne die Rechnung.
🇺🇸 I’d like the bill, please.

Sometimes it can happen that there is a mistake on your bill. If you have to deal with customer service, make sure to look at this article with a bunch of handy phrases and tips!

How to Greet New People in German

Meeting new people is something natural, and it happens time and time again. Some people meet others on an almost daily basis, whilst others much less frequently.

But regardless of the frequency, these phrases will be helpful for you:

🇩🇪 Schön, Dich kennenzulernen!
🇺🇸 Nice to meet you!

🇩🇪 Ich freue mich, Dich kennenzulernen!
🇺🇸 I am glad to meet you!

🇩🇪 Es is mir ein Vergnügen.
🇺🇸 It is a pleasure.

🇩🇪 Endlich lernen wir uns kennen.
🇺🇸 Finally , we’ve gotten to meet each other. 

Sometimes you are not the person who meets new people. Sometimes you bring a new friend with you and want to introduce them to others:

🇩🇪 Kann ich euch meinen neuen Freund/ meine neue Freundin vorstellen?
🇺🇸 Can I introduce my new boyfriend/ girlfriend to you?

🇩🇪 Das ist meine beste Freundin, Katy.
🇺🇸 This is my best friend, Katy.

🇩🇪 Lass mich vorstellen, das ist mein Bruder. 
🇺🇸 Let me introduce my brother.

🇩🇪 Darf ich vorstellen…
🇺🇸 Allow me to introduce…

🇩🇪 Sabine, das ist Claudia. Claudia – Sabine.
🇺🇸 Sabine, this is Claudia. Claudia – Sabine. 

Occasional greetings in German

There are days in the year when a simple “Hello, how are you?” is not appropriate or maybe just not enough. 

When you meet your colleague on his birthday, you won’t just greet him as usual, but you would wish him all the best straight away. If you are not sure how to talk about years and special dates, you should definitely read this.

And if you are invited to celebrate Christmas with your family, you would probably first shout a “Merry Christmas” just as you arrive. 

Here is a set of occasional German greetings:

🇩🇪 Herzlichen Glückwunsch!
🇺🇸 Congratulations!

🇩🇪 Alles Gute!
🇺🇸 All the best!

🇩🇪 Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag!
🇺🇸 Happy Birthday!

🇩🇪 Frohe Weihnachten!
🇺🇸 Merry Christmas!

🇩🇪 Frohe Ostern!
🇺🇸 Happy Easter!

🇩🇪 Schönen ersten Advent!
🇺🇸 Happy first Sunday in Advent!

🇩🇪 Guten Rutsch!
🇺🇸 Have a good start in the New Year!

🇩🇪 Frohes neues Jahr!
🇺🇸 Happy New Year!

When talking to somebody face-to-face, it is enough just to say “Herzlichen Glückwunsch” because both of you know the context. But when you want to send a card, a letter or an e-mail, it’s good to mention the reason.

🇩🇪 Herzlichen Glückwunsch zur Geburt Deines Kindes!
🇺🇸 Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

🇩🇪 Herzlichen Glückwunsch zur Geburt Deines Kindes!
🇺🇸 Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

🇩🇪 Glückwunsch zu Deiner bestandener Führerscheinprüfung!
🇺🇸 Congratulations on passing your driving license!

🇩🇪 Glückwunsch zu Deinem neuen Job!
🇺🇸 Congratulations on your new job!

🇩🇪 Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Deinem Abschluss!
🇺🇸 Congratulations on your graduation!

Showing support in German

It is polite and kind to wish people good luck if they have a school exam  or a job interview. 

Here is how to wish it to them in German:

🇩🇪 Alles Gute!
🇺🇸 All the best!

🇩🇪 Viel Erfolg!
🇺🇸 I wish you a lot of success!

🇩🇪 Viel Glück!
🇺🇸 Good luck!

🇩🇪 Ich drücke Dir die Daumen!
🇺🇸 I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

🇩🇪 Gutes Gelingen!
🇺🇸 I wish you every success!

🇩🇪 Hals- und Beinbruch!
🇺🇸 Break a leg!

🇩🇪 Toi, toi, toi!
🇺🇸 Good luck! 

How to use new German Vocabulary in a Dialogue

You have learned quite a lot of phrases today. It is helpful to put words into sentences. Here is a short dialogue using the terms from today’s lesson:

🇩🇪 Hi Julian, lange nicht gesehen!
🇺🇸 Hi Julian, long time no see!

🇩🇪 Grüß Dich, Martha! Wie geht es Dir?
🇺🇸 Hello Martha! How are you?

🇩🇪 Mir geht es ganz gut. Und wie geht es Dir?
🇺🇸 I’m pretty fine. And how are you doing?

🇩🇪 Oh, mir geht es wunderbar. Ich habe letzten Monat geheiratet. 
🇺🇸 Oh, I am doing wonderfully. I got married last month.

🇩🇪 Das wusste ich nicht. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!
🇺🇸 I didn’t know that. Congratulations!

🇩🇪 Dankeschön. Arbeitest Du immer noch bei John?
🇺🇸 Thank you. Are you still working for John?

🇩🇪 Nicht mehr lange! Am Sonntag habe ich ein Einstellungsgespräch in einer anderen Firma.
🇺🇸 Not for much longer! I have a job interview at another company on Sunday.

🇩🇪 Das klingt super! Ich drücke Dir die Daumen! Viel Glück!
🇺🇸 That sounds great! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! Good luck!

🇩🇪 Danke! Ich muss jetzt leider gehen. Mach’s gut!
🇺🇸 Thanks! I am sorry, I have to go now. Take care!

🇩🇪 Alles klar. Tschüss!
🇺🇸 All right. Bye!

Now that I have shown you so many German greetings, your conversations can’t go wrong!

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Weronika Olszewska

Weronika Olszewska

Living and studying in Germany for as long as she can remember. German tutor by day, Italian learner by night. When she's not learning new languages, you can find her enjoying great rock bands on stage.

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