Don’t know how to start a conversation in Spanish? Want to learn the common Spanish greetings beyond hola? Just got to Spain and you do not understand the greeting slang? Greetings are an important part when starting a conversation. The type of greetings you use are going to set up the kind of conversation you want to have. Here, you will find useful information that will easily answer your questions.
Aspects to take into account
Just like goodbyes, there are three major factors you need to take into account when it comes to greet: Formal or informal ways, slang and cultural aspects.
FORMAL OR INFORMAL
There are mainly two ways to greet: informal or formal. The type you choose is going to depend on the situation and the person you meet. When you want to talk in a formal way in Spanish, you use the 3rd person pronoun, either singular (usted) or plural (ustedes). In Spain, unlike Latin America, usted is not as widely used. People only use it for certain instances, like: when meeting a big boss, an old person, a king or a queen, or just when you want to sound intellectual. On the other hand, you can tutear when you address a person in an informal way, by using the 2nd person pronoun (tú). Also, in Spain we use the 2nd plural person vosotros/as to address two or more people in a familiar way (i.e. you all). Therefore, think about what situation you are in before greeting.
Slang is in all the languages of the world and in every situation, including greetings. Make sure you also learn this part, since you will use it a lot, especially when you meet your friends or family.
Additionally, cultural aspects are very important to take into account when meeting someone. In Spain, people tend to be very close and friendly when greeting a person. For example, when two woman, or a man and a woman meet, they give each other a kiss on each cheek. However, most of the times, it is more like a symbolic kiss (the lips do not really touch the cheeks). On the other hand, when two men meet, they usually shake hands.
Think about these three aspects before meeting someone and you will be all set 😀
List of the Common Spanish Greetings Used in Spain
Although the possibilities are endless, I put together the most common Spanish greetings from Spain. Here is the list with their translations in English and a quick explanation.
Spanish (SPAN.), English (ENG.), Preterite (pret.), somebody (sb.), something (sth.), usted (Ud.) and ustedes (Uds.).
Here is where you will find the most slang.
|Buen día||Hello, hi or good day||At any time of the day|
|Buenas||Hello or hi||At any time of the day|
|Buenas noches ||Good night or evening||Late evening till early morning|
|Buenas tardes||Good afternoon or evening||Until late evening (around 8pm)|
|Buenos días||Good morning||"Good days"|
|¿Cómo andas?||How are you? or how are you doing?||"How are you walking?"|
|¿Cómo estás?||How are you?|
|¿Cómo has estado?||How have you been?||Pret. perfect is widely used in Spain|
|¿Cómo (te) ha ido?||How have you been?||Pret. perfect is widely used in Spain|
|¿Cómo ha ido (todo)?||How has everything been?||Pret. perfect is widely used in Spain|
|¿Cómo (te) va?||How are you? |
How are you doing?
|¿Cómo va?||How is it going?|
|¿Cómo (te) va todo?||How is everything going?|
|¡Cuánto tiempo (sin verte)!||It's been a long time without seeing you!|
|¡Qué gusto verte! ||It is nice to see you|
|¿Qué haces?||What are you doing?|
|¿Qué hay?||What’s up?||"What is there?"|
|¿Qué hay de nuevo?||What’s new? or what's new with you?|
|¿Qué (me o te) cuentas?||What's up? or what's new?||"What can you tell me?"|
|¿Qué pasa?||What's up?, what's happening? or what's going on?||Also for when sb. wants to know if sth. is wrong|
|¿Qué tal (estás)?||How are you?||Widely known|
|Ei||Hey||Clear and concise|
Most of the following greetings fall into the rule of using the 3rd person pronoun. However, others can be used as informal greetings too (*).
|Bienvenido/a/s||Welcome||Ex.: Welcoming sb. to your house|
|Buenas noches*||Good night or good evening||From late evening till early morning|
|Buenas tardes*||Good afternoon or good evening||From noon till late evening (around 8pm)|
|Buenos días*||Good morning||"Good day" |
|¿Cómo está/n (Ud/s.)?||How are you?|
|¿Cómo ha/n estado?||How have you been?||Pret. perfect is widely used in Spain|
|¿Cómo le/s ha ido?||How have you been?||Pret. perfect is widely used in Spain|
|¿Cómo le/s va?||How are you? or how are you doing? |
|(Con) mucho gusto||My pleasure|
|Encantado/a (de conocerle/lo/la/s)||(I'm) pleased to meet you or (it's a) pleasure to meet you||Conocerle/s is used in leístas zones|
|Es un placer (verle/lo/la/s)||It's a pleasure to see you||Verle/s is used in leístas zones|
|Mucho gusto||Pleased to meet you or nice to meet you|
|Qué gusto verle/lo/la/s||I'm glad to see you||Verle/s is used in leístas zones leístas zones|
|¿Qué tal?*||How are you?|
|¿Qué tal se encuentra/n (Ud/s.)?||How are you?|
|¿Qué tal está/n (Ud/s.)?||How are you?|
The same as goodbyes, there are a lot of ways to greet each other in Spanish. Choose the most convenient one according to your context and situation. However, when in doubt, hola will take you anywhere.