Just got to Spain and you don’t know any common Spanish greetings beyond hola? Don’t worry about it. We are going to explain some of the Spanish greetings Spaniards use every day that are easy to remember.
You can feel a bit awkward when starting a conversation in Spanish if you don’t speak it fluently. But there is a solution for everything!
So, here you will find useful information that will easily answer all your questions regarding Spanish greetings. For example, which one to use and when, among other things.
We have also provided plenty of examples with audio to help you practice your listening skills.
General Aspects of Common Spanish Greetings
Regardless of the reason you want to learn them, greetings are an important part of every conversation. The type of Spanish greetings you use is going to set the tone of the conversation you want to have.
Greetings are an important part when starting a conversation. The type of greetings you use is going to set up the kind of conversation you want to have.
Just like goodbyes, there are three major factors you need to take into account when it comes to common Spanish greetings:
- Formal or informal ways
- Cultural aspects.
Formal or Informal Spanish Greetings
There are mainly two ways to greet in Spanish: informal or formal. The type of common greetings in Spanish you choose is going to depend on the situation and the person you meet.
Some of the factors to have in mind are the age of the person you are talking to, if you already know them or see them for the first time, if they are your superior at work, etc.
For example, you won’t talk the same way with an older person you are meeting for the first time and someone close to you. Distinguishing those two types of context is one of the essential reasons why there are informal and formal Spanish greetings.
In Spain, unlike Latin America, usted is not as widely used. Spaniards only use formal Spanish greetings for certain instances, such as meeting a big boss, an elderly person, a king, or a queen, or simply when they want to sound intellectual.
On the other hand, you can tutear (speak to someone using tú) when you address a person in an informal way by using the second person pronoun (tú). Also, in Spain, we use the second plural person vosotros/as to address two or more people in a familiar way (i.e. you all). This is also a situation when you should use informal Spanish greetings.
That’s why it is important to understand the situation you are in before greeting someone.
Slang is present in all the languages in the world and in every situation, including common Spanish greetings. Not only slang but colloquial language, in general, is a very powerful tool people use to connect with others. However, we cannot use it with everybody and on every occasion.
Make sure you know this since you will be using slang a lot in common Spanish greetings and responses, especially when you meet your friends or family.
For instance, Spaniards use Hola (Hi, hello) in both formal and informal Spanish greetings. Even though it’s more of an informal way of speaking, you can make it more formal by adding Buenos días to it. Let us show you some examples.
At the office:
Hola, buenos días a todos. En esta reunión, Marina nos enseñará su presentación y el plan de ahorro.
Hello, good morning to all. In this meeting, Marina will show us her presentation and her savings plan.
¡Hola, tío! ¿Cómo vas? Mira, te cuento que hoy me ha llamado esta gente de la inmobiliaria…
Hey, dude! How’s it going? Look, these people from the real estate agency called me today…
It is very obvious how the tone of the entire conversation changes when using these basic Spanish greetings as conversation starters.
Cultural Aspect of Common Spanish Greetings
When it comes to common Spanish greetings, cultural aspects should definitely be taken into account when meeting someone.
In Spain, people are very close and friendly when greeting each other. Therefore, based on these cultural aspects, they choose which Spanish greetings and farewells to use.
For example, when two women, or a man and a woman meet, they give each other a kiss on each cheek. However, most of the time, it’s 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 or hug.
It’s good to think about these three aspects before meeting someone to master basic Spanish greetings.
Common Spanish Greetings Used in Spain
Although the possibilities are endless, we have put together the most common Spanish greetings from Spain. These include both formal and informal ways of addressing.
So, you can use this list of basic Spanish greetings depending on the occasion and other important cultural aspects.
The common Spanish greetings and responses are not something fixed, so don’t obsess about them. Instead, use your common sense (no pun intended).
We have also included their translations to English and a quick explanation for better navigation through the formal and informal Spanish greetings.
Abbreviations: Spanish (SPAN.), English (ENG.), Preterite (pret.), somebody (sb.), something (sth.), usted (Ud.), and ustedes (Uds.).
Spanish Greetings – Informal Ways
Spaniards use informal Spanish greetings when they talk to their friends, family, or people of the same age group.
When talking to people who are of a similar age, you probably wouldn’t say to them Buenos días, ¿qué tal se encuentra?, right? Spaniards wouldn’t either! As a matter of fact, it would sound very weird to use these formal Spanish greetings with friends or family, don’t you think?
Instead, use phrases such as ¿Qué pasa, tío? or ¿Todo bien?, ¿Cómo andas?, or something of a sort.
They also use informal Spanish greetings when talking to family members. However, even though these Spanish greetings are a huge part of the slang, they use it the most when they talk to their friends.
Below, you will find a table with the most common Spanish greetings that Spaniards use in informal situations.
|Buenas noches||Good night|
|Buenas tardes||Good afternoon|
|Buenos días||Good morning|
|¿Cómo andas?||How are you? |
How are you doing?
|¿Cómo estás?||How are you?|
|¿Cómo has estado?||How have you been?|
|¿Cómo (te) ha ido?||How have you been?|
|¿Cómo ha ido (todo)?||How has everything been?|
|¿Cómo (te) va?||How is it going?|
|¿Cómo (te) va todo?||How is everything going?|
|¡Cuánto tiempo (sin verte)!||I haven’t seen you in a while! |
It's been a long time!
It's been a while!
Long time no see!
|¡Qué gusto verte!||It is nice to see you!|
|¿Qué haces?||What are you doing?|
|¿Qué hay?||What’s up?|
What's going on (with you)?
|¿Qué hay de nuevo?||What’s new?|
What's new with you?
|¿Qué (me o te) cuentas?||What's up?|
|¿Qué pasa?||What's up?|
What's going on?
|¿Qué tal (estás)?||How are you?|
Spanish Greetings – Formal Ways
The majority of the following greetings fall into the rule of using the third person pronoun. Nevertheless, other greetings can be used as informal Spanish greetings too (*).
You won’t have many chances to hear Spaniards talk formally to someone using the pronoun usted (you respectfully and formally). That doesn’t mean they are disrespectful. It’s just that the cultural aspects work differently.
In fact, in Spain, people don’t often use formal Spanish greetings and official ways of addressing others. The possible situations where they use usted are at the doctor, with older people (but not always).
Some people will tell you not to address them with usted, while others won’t care too much about it. That being said, we want to tell you what happened to our friend Ana when she moved to Spain. This made us wonder whether it’s really a good thing to use the pronoun usted with older people out of respect.
She asked one of her neighbors to help her with some paperwork and said:
Buenos días, señora. ¿Usted me podría ayudar con un trámite que necesito hacer para empadronarme?
Good morning, ma’am. Would you be able to help me with the procedure I need to do in order to register in the City hall?
The neighbor looked at her and responded:
¿Me veo tan vieja como para que me hables de usted?
Do I look that old to you so you call me madam?
(Note that the translation is not pretty accurate because the pronoun Usted is not translatable to English; in English, we use the pronoun You in both formal and informal ways of speaking).
She was not mad but she definitely didn’t like Ana addressing her with usted and using formal Spanish greetings with the word señora like a cherry on the top.
So, in the table below, we gathered some of the most common formal Spanish greetings for you. As mentioned before, some of them can be used informally too.
|Buenas noches*||Good night|
|Buenas tardes*||Good afternoon|
|Buenos días*||Good morning|
|¿Cómo está (Ud.)?||How are you?|
|¿Cómo ha estado (Ud.)?||How have you been?|
|¿Cómo le ha ido?||How have you been?|
|¿Cómo le va?||How are you?|
How are you doing?
|(Con) mucho gusto||My pleasure|
Pleased to meet you
Nice to meet you
|Encantado/a (de conocerle/lo/la)||(I'm) pleased to meet you|
(It's a) pleasure to meet you
|Es un placer (verle/lo/la)||It's a pleasure to see you|
|Qué gusto verle/lo/la||I'm glad to see you|
|¿Qué tal?*||How are you?|
|¿Qué tal está (Ud.)?||How are you?|
|¿Qué tal se encuentra (Ud.)?||How are you?|
The same as goodbyes, there are a lot of ways to greet each other in Spanish. Choose the most convenient Spanish greetings according to the context and situation you find yourself in. However, when in doubt, hola will take you anywhere.
Yes, Spaniards prefer using informal ways of addressing but not because they are disrespectful. Among other things, they care about equality. And when you are equal, you feel more relaxed.
However, as you had the chance to see, some common Spanish greetings can be used in both formal and informal contexts. Our eBooks Pack 1 is full of general Spanish greetings.
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.
Now that we’ve concluded the basics of the common Spanish greetings, tell us something:
- Have you ever used any of these common greetings in Spanish?
- Do you know any other?
Leave your answer in the comment section below.
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