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How to Say Hello in German
How to Say Hello in German
Content how to say hello in german

Author: Angela Vonarkh, follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

How Do You Say Hello in German Language

Greetings in different languages can be very different. They often depend on the conventions of culture and communication norms. There can also be regional varieties caused by historical events or some peculiarities of the area. In this regard, it is interesting to discover how to say hello in German as it is spoken across three countries that are very different. So it is no surprise that in Switzerland one will be greeted differently than in Austria. Germany itself is vast so “Hello!” in Munich might sound much unlike that in Berlin or Cologne. Discovering those various greetings is much of a fun journey itself.

How Do You Say Hello in German Across Regions

Hallo – “Hello”

This word is widely used around all German-speaking areas. This greeting is pretty easy to remember and pronounce. Unlike in English, where there is a slight difference between "hello" and "hi", German hallo incorporates them both and so the difference in formality degree vanishes. Thus, it is among the best and most universal greetings and the perfect solution to the question of how do I say hello in German in any social context. You may use it in any place be it a grocery store, bank, or family house when traveling in all German-speaking countries. 

Guten Tag – “Good day”

It is the most traditional and probably the most famous German greeting. Most students studying this language would probably begin with memorizing it in their very first lesson. Just like "Hallo!", one may use it in many, if not every, situations for greeting both an acquaintance and a complete stranger. It's the German hello by definition. However, when saying it you should take into account the time of the day. Germans are rather precise on this matter and they would be surprised by hearing “good day” when it is still morning. So, learn these forms as well:

  • Guten Abend! - Good evening!
  • Guten Morgen! - Good morning!

Servus – “At your service”

Servus is a less common regional variant primarily spoken in Bayern, Switzerland, and Austria. This word can be used in different social situations and can actually mean hi in German language although its original meaning is “At your service” and it comes from Latin. So, if you see a friend or enter a restaurant or patent translation services office in Zurich it is likely that you’ll be greeted with Servus!

Grüß Gott! – “God bless you”

It is an extremely formal regional variant for greeting. It is primarily used in Bayern and Austria. Given its connection to religion in a way, it is possible to understand that this kind of greeting would probably not fit into any situation. But you wonder how do you say hi in German in a formal way, Grüß Gott is the answer. However, not across every German-speaking country. 

Wie geht es dir? – “How’s it going?”

Probably, after Guten Tag the phrase Wie geht es dir will be the next thing a beginner German learner would be taught. It is undoubtedly the classic and the most popular option on how do you say hello how are you in German across all German-speaking countries. If you want to add formality to this greeting, just change dir to Ihnen and it will perfectly suit any conversation.

Moin! – “Hi!”

It is a regional variant commonly used in northern Germany. Even for the best German translation services, it will be hard to explain what does this word mean and where it comes from. According to one version, moin has derived from the regional reduced pronunciation of the word Morgen, which means morning. There is also another opinion that this greeting comes from the word “good” in the Low German dialect. It is primarily used in Hamburg, Bremen, and Schleswig-Holstein.

Entschuldigung – “Excuse me”

Technically speaking, it is not a greeting at all. Entschuldigung or Entschuldigen Sie means “Excuse me”. However, it is a perfect hello in German for approaching a stranger and asking for help. So if you need to ask for directions or don’t know where to buy a ticket for the train, find the right person to ask for assistance and say Entschuldigung.

Hier ist… – “It’s…”

It is not quite a greeting phrase, yet use it when talking remotely to some acquaintance who knows the speaker by telephone or e-mail but who might not recognize them first, if for example, they are texting from a different number. So when you say hello in German in a phone call but the person does not recognize you, instead of saying or writing "it's Alex" which would be literally translated as "Es ist Alex" in German, you should use "Hier ist Alex".

Hello in German Slang

Greetings may completely differ depending on the relationship with the person. Also, the social situation matters a lot. It would probably not be appropriate to say “what’s up?” to one’s boss or passport control officer at the airport. If that happened, they would probably think that the person is being too informal and does not understand what are the relationships between them. For sure the way how to say hi how are you in German would completely different if you would be greeting your grandma and your best friend. The voice, pitch, and the gestures would be also unalike. So, to dive into this topic completely here are some slang greetings one would probably use for an informal atmosphere.

Alles klar – “All clear”

In its most general sense, Alles klar as a statement means “I understand everything” and as a question “Do you understand everything? / Is everything okay?” The top software localization services know this phrase from a different perspective and often it is used in apps and on websites on the confirmation button for the use of cookies or privacy policy. In terms of greetings, it is one of the basic ways on how to say hi how are you in German language. It is because the phrase used for greeting is the question and can be understood as “How are the things going?”.

Was ist los? – “What’s up?”

This greeting can have both positive and negative meaning. All depends on the intonation and facial expression of speaker. This phrase is more likely to be used by close people as degree of formality in it is pretty low. It is one of the basic solutions for question of how do you say what's up in German language between friends. But when saying it, be sure to show what meaning you want to express.

Na – “Hi, how are you? Fine thanks, how are you?”

Na in combination with many other words or phrases can mean many different things. In general, it is not possible to articulate what exactly this word means even if to ask the best translation companies possible, they will not be able to agree on that matter. However, as a greeting it is more popular in Northern Germany, so you should probably not choose it when considering how to say hi in German to a person in Bayern. Most likely, they would be confused.

Read also: Pick the best Somali language translation services to get your translation correctly

Learning German Language is Fun

Often greetings are not just mere words. They are the reflection of the cultural aspects and the conventions of communication. It is probably unlikely to hurt someone’s feelings by choosing the wrong word for greeting in terms of formality level, but at a minimum, this kind of situation would cause complete misunderstanding. Also mind regional differences and rather go for universal ones if not sure about those used in a certain area. Most importantly, gestures also matter in greeting, and in German-speaking countries, it is common to shake hands while keeping eye contact.
 

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