Every conversation starts with “hello.” You already know that “hello” in Spanish is "Hola,” right? But just like in English, Spanish greetings don't stop just there.
There are a bunch of ways you can say hello in Spanish. Moreover, depending on the situation, the greeting is usually followed by a little conversation or at least a question on someone's current mood, state of health, or situation.
Now, you might be wondering how to make a good first impression with only a few words when visiting a Spanish-speaking country without being seen as rude or arrogant. In that case, let us guide you through the best ways to start and end a conversation with someone in Spanish by learning a few essential words.
Hello in Spanish - The Times of Day
If you want to greet someone in Spanish properly, there are several factors you need to take into consideration. They are:
- The time of day/night
- The situation (formal or informal)
- The difference between greetings and goodbyes
One of the most common ways to greet someone in Spanish is simply to say a nice “Hola.” This term is basically a "hi" in Spanish and is used to greet family members, friends, and colleagues in informal situations.
“Hola” can be used at any time of the day or night when we meet somebody. You can never go wrong with saying Hola. Just remember that the h is silent in Spanish, so the correct pronunciation of Hola is without the h (ola).
Add Some Formality
When the situation is more formal, hola can be replaced by other Spanish greetings which change depending on the time of the day or night:
- Buenos días (Good morning / Good day);
- Buenas tardes (Good afternoon);
- Buenas noches (Good evening).
- Something to remember here is that buenas noches can be used to greet someone in a formal situation, and it also means “good night.” If you use it as a “good night,” you could add que duermas bien, which is translated as “sleep well” (literally, it means: “so you dream well”).
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” as an alternative to “hola.” You will hear this a lot if you pay attention - it's very common.
The Clock Runs Differently
Spanish speakers are generally quite relaxed when it comes to time, so don’t be surprised if you hear “buenos días” until 3 pm or so, even though in other countries, the "good morning" won't apply anymore. “Buenas tardes” can be used without arousing suspicion up until about 8 pm.
What’s more, in Spain ¡la noche es joven! (the night is young) even when it’s actually rather late, so you can start using “buenas noches” from 9 pm onwards. In English, you might not wish someone good night unless they’re about to go to bed. However, it’s perfectly normal to do so in Spanish! The clock just runs differently.
As a matter of fact, the Spanish also have something called a siesta, which is basically a break in the middle of the day (and which is very common in the office world). From 2 pm to 4 pm, or even sometimes 5 pm, people will stop working and take a nap.
The siesta functions as an extended lunch break. It’s a perfect example of the Spanish relationship with time. Everything happens just a little bit later, when it’s not so hot outside.
How to Say “How Are You” in Spanish?
Similar to the English language, after saying “hello,” it is often customary to then ask people “How are you?” Bypassing small talk can be perceived as rude. In certain Latin American countries, it is even considered impolite not to individually say “hi” and “goodbye” to each person in a group individually.
Spanish culture is very extroverted, so you wait for the answer and respond - and not just leave it with a “good, thanks.”
If you ask a Spanish person how they are, you can expect to get a longer answer than a French or German person would be used to. They might right away fully engage you in a conversation, telling you all about their emotional and physical wellbeing, so be ready to talk. To ask “how are you?”, you can say: ¿Cómo estás? or ¿Que tal?
“¿Qué tal?” is the most common way to ask somebody how they are in Spanish and can be used both in formal and informal situations. It translates to something like, “How is it going?”
“¿Cómo estás?” is an informal way of saying, “How are you?” To make it sound more polite, you can add “Sir” or “Madame”. For example, if you meet someone in a formal occasion or setting, or if you meet an elder person you will always use a polite form with, you can say ¿Cómo está usted? (How are you Sir/Madame?)
When asked how you are, the most common response is: “Estoy muy bien, gracias” (I am very well, thank you). If you feel bad or ill, you can say something like “No muy bien” or “Regular” to imply that things could be a little bit better.
Some other common Spanish phrases used when greeting someone include:
¿Cómo te va todo?
How is everything?
¿Qué hay de nuevo?
Helpful Phrases for Meeting Someone
If this is your first time meeting someone, you’ll need to know how to respond to certain expressions. Let us guide you through the most common ones:
For example, when you meet somebody, they might say Encantada conorcerte (Nice to meet you), you can reply with “Igualmente” (literally 'equally'). Another possibility would be to say Fue un placer (It is my pleasure).
Note that this is a very polite expression, and people will appreciate that a lot. It’s a good one to remember when you are meeting your native Spanish-speaking boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents for the first time. It will be sure to leave a good impression!
After you introduce yourself, you’ll want to be able to say your name. Instead of a greeting, you might hear como te llamas? or “what’s your name?” When someone asks your name, reply with “Me llamo [first name].” Como te llamas? - Me llama Mika. To send the question back and ask the other person, you can say: Y tú? (And you?)
You also have another option. Instead of saying Me llamo, is using the simpler 'I am,' soy. In that case, you can say, Soy Mika, which also translates to “I am Mika.”
We don’t want to overwhelm you here, but we’d like to share one more phrase that might come in handy. Somebody might ask you: Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?) The simplest way to respond here is to repeat the question in the right person: Mi hombre es Mika. So the conversation would go something like this:
- Hola! Cual es tu nombre / omo te llamas?
- Me llamo Mika / mi nombre es Mika. Y tú?
- Yo, me llamo Vica. / Mi nombre es Vica.
- Hola Vica. Encantada conorcerte.
When you are meeting someone with whom you have a somewhat close relationship with (rather than a quick “buenas días,” like with a shopkeeper), you may find yourself in a situation where you will give an air kiss on the cheek.
If you’re male, it’s expected that you shake hands with other males and “kiss” females on each cheek when greeting them.
Females generally give “kisses” (which are referred to as “besos”) to everyone. Of course, this varies depending on the country and context, so it’s always best to wait for someone else to initiate and follow their lead instead of attempting to give a kiss to everyone randomly. The number of kisses tends to vary, so watch out for that.
Handshakes and Hugs: The Right Way
Handshakes are used in most parts of the world, not only in Spain and Latin America, and not just during business occasions, but also in informal settings where you either don’t know the person or know them but are not really close friends.
Hugs are usually given to friends in Latin America and Spain. These cultures are very warm-hearted, and if you are going to dinner with a friend where your friend knows everybody, you will most likely be treated like one as well, so a hug as a greeting is nothing uncommon there.
For guys, one-armed hugs with a bit of back-slapping can be employed to show enthusiasm and companionship. English speakers may know this as a “bro hug.”
How to say Goodbye in Spanish
Similar to saying Hello, saying goodbye has a variety of ways to do and say that. From a simple wave with the hand followed by a cheerful adiós, to a polite ciao, there are numerous ways to depart gracefully from any situation.
Adiós: You’ve probably heard “adiós” as the primary way of saying goodbye already somewhere. It’s similar to “goodbye” in English and is appropriate in many situations. You may use it when you don’t plan to see the person for a while (like when you leave a restaurant, for example).
When you learn Spanish, you can use diós, or hasta luego (see you later) as your main expression to go with, but as with English, there are also many other ways to say goodbye. Some examples are:
- Hasta pronto (See you soon);
- Hasta ahora (See you later - on the same day, just a little later);
- Hasta luego (See you later - which can also be on another day, but it's certain that you’ll see the person again);
- Hasta mañana (See you tomorrow);
- Hasta el lunes (See you on Monday - and the same with the other days of the week);
- Hasta la próxima (See you next time, or see you soon).
As you can see, there are numerous ways to say hello and goodbye to someone in Spanish - and they often exceed the basic phrases you might have heard already. By using the above expression in the appropriate situations, you should be able to make a great first impression on your new acquaintances while being confident enough to speak freely.
Spanish is such a beautiful language, isn’t it? It’s not just the language, though - Spanish and South American people are very open, and they will be happy with every attempt you make to learn their language. There is no going wrong here, so you can be confident to practice more.
Now it’s your turn. Are you keen on learning Spanish? If you enjoyed this post about saying hello in Spanish and are eager to discover more about the Spanish language, check out some other posts on our blog or download our app - and we hope that you have fun.
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.What are three ways to say hello in Spanish? ›
Casual and informal greetings in Spanish
Hi, there! ¡Hola, hola! Hey! ¡Oye!
- 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?
Formal and informal greetings
Formal. Informal. Buenos días - Good morning. Hola - Hello/hi (the most common greeting) Buenas tardes - Good afternoon/evening.
As we've mentioned, hola is the standard greeting recognised in Spain and Latin America as a common introductory word. It's extremely common to hear this polite greeting used in a range of contexts, as you can use it in both formal and informal situations. Hola translates to 'hello' in English.What is the best response for Hola? ›
This phrase means “how are you?” and can be used not only to find out how somebody is feeling, but can also be used as a way to say hello. If in passing someone says “hola!” to you, it would acceptable to reply: “como estas?”Is Hola formal or informal? ›
How to Say Hello How Are You in Spanish. If you'd like to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish, you can use “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (informal/singular). If you are greeting someone in a more formal setting, you'll want to use “Hola, ¿cómo está?” (formal/singular).Does Ola mean hello? ›
In Spanish, the correct way to greet people is with the word hola, whether it be in a formal or informal setting, Hola means hello, but the “h” is silent, so we say /ola/. In fact, the word ola in Spanish actually means wave. But that's not all — if you are learning Portuguese, the correct expression for hello is olá.What is the most neutral Spanish greeting? ›
Hola is the most common Spanish phrase for saying Hello because it's universally acceptable. If you don't know what else to say to the person, Hola is always a safe way to say Hello in Spanish.What is the most polite greeting? ›
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."
Synonyms: hi (informal), hey (informal), hullo, hallo, hiya (slang), greetings (formal), salutations (formal), howdy (informal), hi there (informal), hello there (informal), yo (slang), wotcha (UK, dated, slang), good morning, good afternoon, good evening.Which is more formal hello or hey? ›
Both of these words are used when we want to greet someone. However, 'hello' is more formal, whereas, 'hi' is a friendly term.What is the formal version of Hola? ›
How to Say Hello How Are You in Spanish. If you'd like to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish, you can use “*Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (informal/singular). If you are greeting someone in a more formal setting, you'll want to use “Hola, ¿cómo está?” (formal/singular).What is the most common Spanish phrase? ›
- Hola – “Hello”
- Me llamo… – “ My name is…”
- ¿Y tú? – “And you?”
- Mucho gusto – “Nice to meet you”
- ¿Qué tal? – “How are you?”
- Nos vemos – “See you”
- Por favor – “Please”
- Gracias – “Thank you”
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” as an alternative to “hola.” You will hear this a lot if you pay attention - it's ...What does Como Estas mean? ›
¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)How do you respond to Mucho Gusto? ›
Mucho gusto ("a pleasure to meet you")
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").
Hola and ola are pronounced the same, but the H helps us know when we are talking about a wave or saying hello.What is Hola amigo? ›
hello friend, hello friend,. Translate in Google. Thanks for your feedback!What is the most appropriate response to Gracias? ›
The response to gracias that you're most likely to use or hear is de nada (you're welcome), or you could say, if appropriate, a tí (thank you). For greater emphasis you can use no hay de qué (don't mention it).
Buenos días literally translates to “good days,” combining the Spanish buenos, meaning “good,” and días, meaning “days.” Despite being written as plural, the phrase is used in Spanish and English to simply mean “good morning” or “good day.”How to respond to como estas? ›
When someone asks you ¿Cómo estás? If you feel alright, you say estoy bien; you could also say, estoy muy bien, to give more emphasis, which means “very good” or “very well.” You can also add one extra word, gracias, meaning “thanks”, and estoy bien, gracias; it means “I'm fine, thank you.” 2.Is it Hola or Buenos días? ›
You can simply use hola (hello or hi) on its own. You can also use buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon or good evening – provided it's still light) and buenas noches (good evening – once it's dark). Spanish speakers often use both together, as in hola, buenos días and hola, buenas tardes.Is there a polite form in Spanish? ›
In the Spanish language we have the option to talk to someone in a polite way. This is used at restaurants and other similar situations. Usted is the formal version of tú (you, 1 person), and ustedes is te formal version of vosotros (you guys).What does mean Hola? ›
Interjection. hola. (informal) Hello, hi, hey.How do you translate Hola? ›
hi, hello, ‐ an expression of greeting.What are the 3 accent rules in Spanish? ›
Spanish accents (tildes) can only be written over the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u), and the accent is written from lower left to upper right: á, é, í, ó, ú. In Spanish, an accent mark over one vowel of some word, indicates that the vowel is stressed.How do you say hello in Spanish slang? ›
|Hola (direct translation)||Hi or Hello|
|Holi Holis||Hi or Hello|
|Qué Onda||What's up|
Buenos días (BWEN-os DEE-ahs)
This Spanish greeting is used with people older than you as well as strangers. For example, say this when you walk into a restaurant for breakfast. Buenos días ends at 12pm so don't forget to switch over to buenas tardes in the afternoon.
How late can you say good morning? For example, “Good morning” is generally used from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. whereas “Good afternoon” time is from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. “Good evening” is often used after 6 p.m. or when the sun goes down.
- Hello. This is the most basic greeting in English. ...
- Hi. This is a shorter version of "hello". ...
- Hey. Now, "hey" is definitely more casual than "hi" or "hello". ...
- Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening. ...
- It's nice to meet you. ...
- It's a pleasure to meet you. ...
- It's good to see you again. ...
- What's up?
“Hey you” is often a playful greeting.
If the guy is your friend, your crush, or someone you've been chatting with on a dating app, there's a good chance he's flirting with you—or at least being friendly. If you're pretty sure he's flirting and you want to return the sentiment, shoot back a message with a similar tone.
Howdy / Hey mate / Hey man / G'day / and Gidday mate all indicate that we know a person quite well. How are you? / What's up? / How's it going? are casual ways to say hello in English and indicate that we've known that person for some time. How's you? is a casual and tender way to ask after someone's wellbeing.What does it mean when a girl says heyy? ›
"Heyyy" is a playful, friendly greeting that is often used as a form of flirting. You can respond with your own playful "Heyyy :D", or be even more direct. See below for some sample responses.Can Hola be 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.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."
- Hola (Hello)
- Adios (Goodbye)
- Gracias (Thank you)
- Por favor (Please)
- Si (Yes)
- Claro (Of course)
- No (No)
- Amor (Love)
Even if you're an absolute beginner, you likely already know these two basic Spanish words: sí (yes) and no (no). But like in English, there are many unique ways to say “no” in Spanish.How do you say basic phrases in Spanish? ›
- Buenos días = Good morning.
- Buenas tardes = Good afternoon.
- Buenas noches = Good evening.
- Hola, me llamo Juan = Hello, my name is John.
- Me llamo… = My name is…
- ¿Cómo te llamas? = What's your name?
- Mucho gusto = Nice to meet you.
- ¿Cómo estás? = How are you?
The phrase mucho gusto is commonly used in Spanish greetings, and is a great way to politely greet someone new.What's no bueno mean? ›
no bueno (not comparable) (US, informal, mildly humorous) not good; no good; bad.How do you respond to Buenos noches? ›
A: ¡Buenas noches! (Good night!) So, you can answer with 'que descanses' to let the other people know that you wish them a good night of rest.Can I 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” as an alternative to “hola.” You will hear this a lot if you pay attention - it's ...Is it Ola or Hola? ›
In Spanish, the correct way to greet people is with the word hola, whether it be in a formal or informal setting, Hola means hello, but the “h” is silent, so we say /ola/. In fact, the word ola in Spanish actually means wave.Is Buenos noches correct? ›
Greetings in Spanish
After sunset you would say buenas noches which is similar to our good evening though literally translates as good night. However, unlike in English where good night is used to say goodbye or when you are going to bed, in Spanish buenas noches can be used as a greeting.
However, in Mexico in paticular, it is common for people to answer the phone with “bueno.” In this context, bueno is loosely translated to “hello” or “yes”.Is Buenas a female? ›
Buenos is masculine plural, buenas is feminine plural. In general - there are some exceptions - words ending with -o are masculine and words ending with -a are feminine.How do Mexicans say good morning? ›
Buen día. "Good morning" is Buenos días.How do you say goodbye in Mexico? ›
- Adiós. Goodbye.
- Chau. Bye! ( casual)
- Nos vemos. See you (casual)
- Hasta mañana. See you tomorrow.
- Hasta luego. See you later.
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. A more casual greeting is “Hola” (Hello), “¿Qué tal?” (What's up?) or “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?).Is the H silent in Hola? ›
Hola is the Spanish hello everyone knows
In Spanish, the “h” is silent, so hola is pronounced “oh-la.”