How many Spanish greetings do you know?…
Are you the kind of student who uses the same old words for everything?…
—Hola, Mike, ¿cómo amaneciste?
—¿De qué hablas?
No doubt, if you want to speak better Spanish, and you want to communicate with native speakers, you need to know different ways to say hello in Spanish.
Because Spanish greetings are going to be the first words native speakers hear from you.
If you want to connect with them, you have to realize that first impressions matter.
In this article you’re going to learn 40 different ways to say hello in Spanish.
And when I say “hello”, I mean phrases that, literally people use to say hello (not “¿Cómo estás?”, which is what they teach you in traditional Spanish lessons).
What kind of greetings are there in Spanish?
Tons of them!
And what you’re about to read is just a small list compared to how specific regions and countries say hello in daily life.
In other words, some of these 40 “hellos”, might make sense in some regions, but they won’t make sense in other countries.
In general, we might say that you may find Spanish greetings “classified” in 5 different categories:
- Neutral greetings
- Formal greetings
- Spanish greetings to answer the phone
- Spanish greetings to include in your letters
- Informal ways to say hi
So, get a pencil and some paper, or just get ready to copy and paste the following greetings into a word document, so you can be ready for the next time you say hi to someone in Spanish.
Neutral Spanish greetings
Neutral greetings are those you can use in any situation, under any context, or anywhere in the Spanish-speaking world.
No matter who you are talking to, you’ll be able to use these phrases and sound proper at the same time:
- Hola: Hello.
- ¿Qué tal?: How’s it going?
- ¿Qué hay?: What’s up?
- Buenas: Just the short version of buenos días, buenas tardes or buenas noches.
Short, quick, and easy to use pronounce and use.
Now, it might be a little different…
When you want to say hello in a formal situation
I say it’s different because you have to think of what time it is at the moment you’re saying hi.
I’ll specify at what times you should use each phrase:
- Buenos días (From midnight to noon): Good morning.
- Buenas tardes (From noon to sunset): Good afternoon.
- Buenas noches (From sunset to midnight): Good night.
- Buen día (From midnight to noon): Good morning.
- Buena tarde (From noon to sunset): Good afternoon.
- Buena noche (From sunset to midnight): Good night.
These phrases might also be used in neutral situations, but they sound way, way better under formal situations.
- Like when you go to the doctor…
- Or if you’re going to an interview in which you want to make a good impression.
Spanish greetings to answer the phone
The phone rings, you pick it up and say:
“Hello, I’m avoiding your call, so please leave your message after the tone… beep!”
Just kidding, don’t do that…
I’m sure you wouldn’t do that unless the person who’s calling you is someone who you really want to avoid.
Just try to answer the phone with the classic and neutral “hola”.
Another option is using the following words people use to answer phone calls in Spanish like:
- ¿Bueno? (I’ve only heard this one from people from Central América)
- Sí, ¿buenas?
Really, even though it sounds crazy, there’s no way to translate the words I listed above.7
Just think of them as a way of saying “hello” when you pick up the phone.
But, what if you’re writing a letter? …
Are there specific Spanish greetings to use when you write letters or emails?
Of course, there are!
Actually, if the email or the letter you’re writing is for a company, an important person, or you’re sending it in a business context, then you may use:
- Cordial saludo: Formal greetings.
- Tenga usted un cordial saludo: Have a formal greeting.
- Saludos cordiales: Formal greetings.
- Pláceme saludarle: I’m so pleased to say greet to you.
- Reciba usted un cordial saludo: Have a formal greeting from me.
Yes, I know the translation I came up with doesn’t make sense in English, but that’s what the phrases are saying, and they make perfect sense in Spanish!
And hey… Needless to say, if you’re writing to a friend or a family member, it would be weird if you use the phrases above.
Instead of that, you might use…
Informal Spanish greetings that you’ll hear in Colombia
Spanish speakers come up with new phrases all the time.
We make mistakes and mispronounce words, but the most interesting thing is that greetings are no exception.
Here’s a list of greetings people use in Colombia (You can use them in letters or conversations):
- ¿Quihubo, pues?: What’s up?… this phrase isn’t well pronounced, so we can say that it’s something equivalent to “whazzup”
- ¿Qué hubo?: What’s up?… This is the well-pronounced version of the former phrase.
- ¡Hola, hola!: Hello, hello.
- ¡Holas!: Hello(s). We use this crazy created word when saying hi informally to several people.
- ¡Oe!: Slang exclusevly used in Medellin. It’s something like what’s up, but a shorter version of that, something like zup!
- ¡Oelo! – Oela: A variation of the previous one, but depending on the genre of the person to whom you’re
e talking with.
- ¡Oelos!: Another variation of #26, but this one is used as plural (when talking to several people).
- ¿Qué más?: What’s going on?
- ¿Qué más pues?: What’s going on? + a filler word that doesn’t mean anything really (pues).
- ¡Tiempo sin verte!: Long time no see.
Of course, informal Spanish greetings aren’t an exclusive property of “Colombian Spanish”, lots of different countries have their unique styles of saying hi, like in Mexico, where people might say:
- ¿Qué pasa?: What’s up?
- ¿Qué onda wey?: What’s going on?
- ¿Qué pasó?: What’s up?
- ¿Qué hongo?: What’s up?
- ¿Qué tranza?: What’s up?
It’s also important that, as you say hi to several people, you might use word #1 of this list “hola” + the group of people you’re saying hi to.
Actually, we might say that this is how influencers and Youtubers say hi to their audiences in their videos.
Here are some examples:
- Hola, amigos: Hello, friends.
- Hola, chicos: Hey, guys (males or males and females).
Now, these phrases might have some variations like:
- Hola, chicas: Hey, guys (Specifically for girls, so it’s more like “hey girls”).
- ¡Hola gente!: Hello, people!
- Hola a todos: hi everyone!
Now that you said hi, what now?
After you say hi to people in Spanish, you probably want to keep the conversation going, right?
If that’s the case, you probably want to say:
So, here’s another article that might be really handy to you:
Read it, and use those phrases wisely 😉
And there you have 40 different ways of saying hi in Spanish.
Do you know more Spanish greetings? Perhaps phrases people use in specific countries?
Share them with me in the comments below.
I’ll be more than happy to read your answer and to learn from you as well.`