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How to say hello in different languages

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1. Acknowledge that the mostly-universal, non-verbal way to greet others is a simple handshake or wave in the English-speaking world. However, other gestures such as various forms of bowing, embraces, or even applause are used as non-verbal greetings in other parts of the world. Always make sure you are not insulting anyone with uncommon gestures in that particular country.

2. Look up the language in which you would like to say "hello" or "good morning." You will find suggestions on that line. Pronounce the suggested wording.

  • AfrikaansHallo (hello) pronounced Hu-llo
  • Alibamu (Southeastern Native American) — chíkmàa
  • Amharic"tena yistelegn," which is very formal. You can also say "Selam."
  • AlbanianTungjatjeta (pronounced To-ngyat-yeta) means have a long life, or c'kemi (hi)
  • A'LeamonaTel nĩdo (good day), pronounced tehl-neye-doe
  • Arabicصباح الخير (good morning) pronounced sabahou e l kheir , مساء الخير (good evening) pronounced masaou el kheir; note that Kh-خ is pronounced from the back of the throat. mArHAbAN-مرحبا (Hello) pronounced Mar-ha-ban Other common greetings are Ahalan and Marhaba
  • American Sign Language (ASL) — To say "hello," squeeze the fingers in your right hand together, touch the tips of your fingers to your forehead, palm facing outward, and move your hand away from your forehead in a sort of saluting motion.
  • Armenianbarev or parev
  • AustrianGrüßgott (formal, pronounced gree'assgott)/ Servus (Informal, said See-ahh-vass, not like the Latin word)
  • Azerbaijanisalam (hello) pronounced Sa-lam
  • Bahamian Englishhello (formal), hi or heyello (informal), what you sayin', Bui/Bey? (very informal - slang)
  • Basquekaixo (pronounced kai-show), egun on (morning; .pronounced egg-un own), gau on (night; pronounced gow own)
  • Belarusianpryvitańnie (pronounced pree-vee-tun-nie)
  • Bengalinamaskar (In West Bengal, India)
  • BodoWai or Oi or Oye Informal saying of hello to someone. Like wife saying wai to husband. But formally add title after wai...e.g, to call sister wai binanao beo fwi (meaning: come here sister).
  • Bremniankoali (pronounced kowalee)
  • Breton - Degemer Mad
  • British Sign Language (BSL) — Dominant hand wave, from core to outside with the palm facing towards recipient as the hand moves bring it into a thumbs up gesture (Formal 'Hello'), Give two thumbs up (Informal Literal Translation 'well?')
  • Bulgarianzdravei, zdraveite (to many), zdrasti (informal), Dobro utro (morning), Dobar den (day), Dobar vecher (evening)
  • BosnianHej? (Hey) "Dobar dan" (Good Afternoon) "Cao" (Hi) "Laku noc" (Good night)
  • Burmesemingalarba
  • Cambodian (Khmer)Sua s'dei (informal), Jum Reap Sour (formal) good morning, Arun Sua s'dei good afternoon, Tivea Sua s'dei good evening, Sayoan Sua s'dei good night, Reatrey Sua s'dei good bye, Lea Hoy (informal), Jum Reap Lea (formal)
  • Cape-Verdean Creoleoi, olá, Entao or Bon dia
  • Catalanhola (pronounced o-la), bon dia (pronounced bon dee-ah) good morning, bona tarda (bona tahr-dah) good afternoon, bona nit (bona neet)good night. You can also say just bones (bo-nahs) to make it informal.
  • Cayuga (Northern Iroquois) — sga-noh
  • Chamorrohafa adai (hello/what's up?), hafa? (informal), howzzit bro/bran/prim/che'lu? (informal), sup (informal) and all other English greetings
  • Chichewamoni bambo! (to a male), moni mayi! (to a female), Muribwanji (moori-bwanji) is used often as a generalized greeting to everyone.
  • ChubbyShabe Yabebabe Yeshe
  • Chinese — In both Cantonese and Mandarin, it is written as 你好. Cantonese is nei* ho or lei ho (pronounced ne ho or lay ho) and Mandarin is nǐ hǎo (pronounced, nee how) (remember the tones). In Mandarin you can also say 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo) for "Good Morning" (pronounced dsao shung haw). In Taiwan, this is not common and people informally use the shorter 早 (zǎo, pronounced dsao).

  • Congolesemambo
  • Cook Islands MaoriKia orana (hello)
  • CreeTansi (pronounced Tawnsay)
  • Croatian - bok (informal), dobro jutro (morning), dobar dan (day), dobra večer (evening), laku noć (night)
  • Czechdobré ráno (until about 8 or 9 a.m.), dobrý den (formal), dobrý večer (evening), ahoj (informal; pronounced ahoy)
  • Danishhej (informal; pronounced hi), goddag (formal), godaften (evening; formal), hey, hejsa, halløj (very informal).
  • Dioula (Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso) — in-i-che
  • D'nishorah (also goodbye or peace)
  • Double Dutchhutch-e-lul-lul-o (hello), gug-o-o-dud mum-o-rug-nun-i-nun-gug (good morning; formal), gug-o-o-dud a-fuf-tut-e-rug-nun-o-o-nun (good afternoon; formal), gug-o-o-dud e-vuv-e-nun-i-nun-gug (good evening; formal)
  • Dutchhoi (very informal), hallo (informal), goedendag (formal)

  • Dzongkha (Bhutan)kuzu-zangpo
  • Edo (Nigeria) — Kóyo
  • English - Americanhello (formal), hi (informal), hey (informal,) yo (informal)

  • English - EnglandHow do you do? (formal), Good Morning (formal), Good Afternoon (formal), Good Evening (formal) hello (less formal), HowDo? (informal), Watchya (informal), Alright (informal) hi (informal), Hiya (informal)
  • English - Irelandhello (formal), hi (informal), hey (informal,) yo (informal), Hiya (informal)
  • English - Scotlandhello (formal), hi (informal), hey (informal,) yo (informal), Hiya (informal), howzitgaun (informal, means "Hello, how are you?")
  • Esperantosaluton (formal), sal (informal)
  • Estoniantere päevast" (good day), Tere hommikust (morning), Tere Õhtust (evening) Tere/tervist
  • Egyptian ArabicSalaam Alekum (sulam ulakume) (Goodbye), Ma Salaama (ma sulama) the "U" is pronounced its usual way (Example:up)
  • FijianBula Uro (Informal Hello) and Bula Vinaka (Formal Hello) is pronounced 'Buh-la Vina-kah'
  • Finnishhyvää päivää (formal), moi, terve or hei (informal), moro (Tamperensis)
  • Frenchsalut (informal; silent 't'), allo,bonjour (formal, for daytime use; 'n' as a nasal vowel, pronounced "bon-shore"), bonsoir (good evening; 'n' is a nasal vowel), bonne nuit (good night)

  • Frisian (A Language from northern Netherland, still spoken by many people) — Goeie dei (Formal), Goeie (A bit more informal but still correct).
  • Gaelicdia duit (informal; pronounced dee-ah whu-it; literally "God be with you")
  • Georgiangamardjoba
  • German - Traditionalhallo (informal), Guten Tag (formal; pronounced gootan taag), Tag (very informal; pronounced tahg).

  • German - Austrian and Bavarian - grüß Gott (pronounced gruess got), servus (informal; also means "goodbye"; pronounced zair-voos)
  • German - Northern — moin or moin moin (pronounced moyn), also moinsen
  • German - Swisshallo (informal), grüezi (formal, pronounced kind of like grew-tsi), grüessech (formal, used in the Canton of Berne, pronounced grewe-thech)
  • Gibberishhuthegelluthego, h-idiguh-el l-idiguh-o (formal), h-diguh-i (informal), h-idiguh-ow a-diguh-re y-idigah-ou? (meaning "how are you?")
  • GreekΓεια σου (pronounced YAH-soo; singular to greet a friend, informal), Γεια σας (plural to be polite, formal) (meaning "health to you"), καλημέρα (pronounced kalee-ME-ra; good morning; formal), καλό απόγευμα (pronounced ka-LOH a-PO-yevma; good afternoon; formal), καλησπέρα (pronounced kalee-SPE-rah; good evening; formal)
  • Gujarati - Namaste,Namaskar,Kemcho
  • Haida (Queen Elizabeth Island Canada) — Kii-te-daas a
  • HausaIna kwaana? (How did you sleep? - informal) or Ina uni? (how's the day? - informal); Ina kwaanan ku? (formal) or Ina unin Ku (formal)
  • Hawaiianaloha (pronounced ah-low-ha)
  • Hebrewshalom (means "hello", "goodbye" and "peace"), hi (informal), ma korae? (very informal, literally means "whats happening" or "whats up")

  • Hindiनमस्ते, namaste (nah-mah-STAY)
  • Hopiha'u (sounds like hah-uh) means "hello" but it's not used as often as we use it in English. It's more traditional to greet someone by saying Um waynuma? (you're around?)
  • Hungarian, Magyarjó napot (pronounced yoh naput; daytime; formal), szervusz (pronounced sairvoose; informal), szia (pronounced seeya; informal), or even heló, like English hello but a longer "o"
  • Icelandicgóðan dag (formal; pronounced gothan dahg), (informal; pronounced hai)
  • Igbonde-ewo (pronounced enday aywo), nna-ewo (pronounced enna wo), ke-du (informal, pronounced keh-du).
  • Indonesianhalo (hello), selamat pagi (morning), selamat siang (afternoon), selamat malam (evening)
  • IrishDia duit (pronounced "Dee-ah ghwit"; also means "God Be With You")
  • Islamic Greetingالسّلام عليكم (peace be upon you) pronounced Assalamou Alykoum.
  • Italianciào (pronounced chow; informal; also means "goodbye"), buon giorno (pronounced bwohn geeornoh; good morning; formal), buon pomeriggio (pronounced bwohn pohmehreejeeoh; good afternoon; formal), buona sera (pronounced bbwoonah sehrah; good evening; formal)

  • Japanese — おはよう(ございます)ohayoou (gozaimasu) (pronounced o-ha-yo (go-zai-mass); good morning), こんにちは konnichi ha (pronounced kon-nee-chee-wa; daytime or afternoon), こんばんは konbanha (pronounced kon-ban-wa; evening); もし もし moshi moshi (pronounced mo-shee mo-shee; when calling/answering the phone); どうも doumo (pronounced doh-moh; informal way of thanking/greeting, but means countless other things as well so only use when context makes sense)

  • Jamaican PatoisYow Wah gwaan (pronounced wa-gwaan)
  • Kanien'kéha (Mohawk) — kwe kwe (pronounced gway gway)
  • Kannadanamaskara
  • KazakhSalem (hello), Kalay zhagday (How are you?)
  • KlingonnuqneH? [nook-neck] (literally: "what do you want?")
  • KonkaniNamaskar, Namaskaru (I bow to thee, formal)', Dev baro dis div (may God bless you with a good day, informal)
  • Korean안녕하세요 ahn nyeong ha se yo (formal), 안녕 ahn nyeong (informal; can also be used to mean "goodbye")(when calling/answering the phone"; 여보세요 yeo-bo-sae-yo (prounounced "yuh-boh-say-yoe")

  • Kurdishchoni, roj bahsh (day; pronounced rohzj bahsh)
  • Laosabaidee (pronounced sa-bai-dee)
  • Latin (Classical) — salve (pronounced sal-way; when talking to one person), salvete (pronounced sal-way-tay; when talking to more than one person), ave (pronounced ar-way; when talking to one person; when talking to someone respected), avete (pronounced ar-way-tay; when talking to more than one respected person)
  • Latvianlabdien, sveiki, chau (informal; pronounced chow).
  • Lingalambote
  • Lithuanianlaba diena (formal), labas, sveikas (informal; when speaking to a male), sveika (informal; when speaking to a female), sveiki (informal; when speaking to more than one person).
  • Lojbancoi
  • Luxembourgishmoïen (pronounced MOY-en)
  • SlavomacedonianЗдраво (Zdravo; meaning Hello), Добро утро (Dobro utro; meaning Good morning), Добар ден (Dobar den; meaning Good day), Добро вечер (Dobro vecher; meaning Good evening)
  • Malayalamnamaskkaram
  • MalaysianSelamat datang, which can also mean welcome (pronounced seh-la-mat dah-tang) or you could say apa khabar, which can also mean "how are you" (pronounced a-pa ka-bar), Hai (informal, pronounced hi)
  • Maldivian (Dhivehi)kihineth (meaning "how" - the common way of greeting)
  • Maltesemerħba (meaning "welcome"), bonġu (morning), bonswa or il-lejl it-tajjeb (evening)
  • Maorikia ora (kia o ra) (literally "be well/healthy" and is translated as an informal "hi." This term has also been adopted by English speakers in New Zealand), tena koe, ata marie, morena (good morning)
  • Marathinamaskar
  • Marshalleseiakwe (pronounced YAH kway)
  • Mongoliansain baina uu? (pronounced saa-yen baya-nu; formal), sain uu? (pronounced say-noo; informal), ugluunii mend (morning; pronounced ohglohny mend), udriin mend (afternoon, pronounced ohdriin mend), oroin mend (evening; pronounced or-oh-in mend)
  • Nahuatlniltze, hao
  • NaokienAtetgrealot (formal), atetel (informal)
  • Navajoya'at'eeh (Hello or Good) (pronunciation dependant upon the tribe, or area of the reservation you are on)
  • Na'vikaltxì (informal) (pronounced kal-T-ì with an emphasis on the T), Oel ngati kameie (formal) (pronounced o-el nga-ti kamei-e)
  • Niueanfaka lofa lahi atu (formal), fakalofa (informal)
  • Neapolitancia, cha
  • NepalbhashaJwajalapa, ज्वजलपा
  • Nepalinamaskar, namaste, k cha (informal), kasto cha
  • Northern Sami — "Buorre beaivi", "Bures"
  • Northern Sothodumelang
  • Norwegianhei ("hi"), hallo ("hello"), heisann ("hi there"), god morgen ("good morning"), god dag ("good day"), god kveld ("good evening").
  • Oshikwanyamawa uhala po, meme? (to a female; response is ee), wa uhala po, tate? (to a male; response is ee) nawa tuu? (response is ee; formal), ongaipi? (meaning "how is it?"; informal)
  • Oromo (Afan Oromo)asham (hi)akkam? (how are you?), nagaa (peace, peace be with you)
  • Palauanalii (pronounced Ah-Lee)
  • Piratearrrguh (pronounced are-g-uh with emphasis on the are, usually with rolled r) Ahoy Matey (pronounced Ah-hoi mate-ey, is usually to another crew member)
  • Persiansalaam or do-rood (salaam is an abbreviation, the full version being as-salaam-o-aleykum in all Islamic societies)
  • Pig Latineyhay (informal), ellohay (formal), atswhay upay? ("what's up?")
  • Polishdzień dobry (formal), witaj (hello) cześć (hi, pronounced, "cheshch")
  • Portugueseoi, boas, olá or alô (informal); bom dia or bons dias (good morning, good day, used before noon or before the noon meal); boa tarde or boas tardes (good afternoon, used after noon or after the noon meal, until twilight); boa noite or boas noites (good evening and good night, used after twilight).

  • Punjabisat sri akal
  • Rajasthani (Marwari)Khamma Ghani sa, Ram Ram sa
  • Romaniansalut, buna dimineata (formal; morning), buna ziua (formal; daytime), buna seara (formal; evening), buna (usually when speaking to a female pronounced boo-nah or bu-nah)
  • RussianPrivet! (pronounced as pree-vyet; informal), zdravstvuyte (formal; pronounced ZDRA-stvooy-tyeh)

  • Samoan - talofa (formal), malo (informal)
  • Scanianhaja (universal), hallå (informal), go'da (formal), go'maren (morning), go'aften (evening)
  • Senegalsalamaleikum
  • Serbianzdravo, ćao (informal), dobro jutro (morning, pronounced dobro yutro), dobar dan (afternoon), dobro veče (pronounced dobro vetcheah; evening), laku noć (night), do viđenja (see you soon)
  • Sinhalaa`yubowan (pronounced au-bo-wan; meaning "long live")kohomada? (ko-ho-ma-da; meaning how are you?)
  • Slovakdobrý deň (formal), ahoj (pronounced ahoy), čau (pronounced chow) and dobrý (informal abbreviation)
  • Slovenianživjo (informal; pronounced zhivyo), zdravo (informal), dobro jutro (morning), dober dan (afternoon), dober večer (evening; pronounced doh-bear vetch-air)
  • South African Englishhoezit (pronounced howzit; informal)
  • Southern Sami — "buaregh"
  • Spanishhola (pronounced with a silent 'h': o-la), alo, qué onda (South America; very informal, like "what's up"; pronounced keh ondah), qué hay, (South America; very informal), qué pasa (Spain, informal), buenos días ("good morning"), buenas tardes (afternoon and early evening), buenas noches (late evening and night). These three forms can be made informal by saying "buenas". Also Qué Transa (Mexico; very informal, like "what's up", pronounced keh trahansa). Qué tál (meaning "what's up", pronounced kay tal)

  • Sulkamarot (morning; pronounced mah-rote [rolled r and lengthened o], mavlemas (afternoon; v is pronounced as a fricative b), masegin (evening; g is pronounced as a fricative)
  • Swahilijambo? or hujambo?, which loosely translates as 'how are you?', are commonly used but you may also say Habari gani? (What is the news?)
  • Swedishtja (very informal; pronounced sha), hej (informal; pronounced hey), god dag (formal)

  • Tagalog (Pilipino - Philippines)Kumusta po kayo? (formal, means "How are you, sir or madam", pronounced "kuh-muh-stah poh kah-yoh"), Kumusta ka? (informal, means "how are you?", "kuh-muh-stah kah"). You can also add na when talking to someone you haven't see in a while, Kumusta na po kayo? or Kumusta ka na?. Magandang umaga po (Good morning, pronounced "mah-gan-dang oo-mah-gah poh"), Magandang hapon po (Good afternoon, "mah-gan-dang ha-pon poh"), Magandang gabi po (Good evening or night, "mah-gan-dang gah-beh poh"), Magandang tanghali po (good day, literally midday or noon, "mah-gan-dang tang-ha-leh poh"). NOTE: to make these informal greetings, drop po from the end and add the person's first name. Still, some people use words like mare or pare (very informal greeting, mare (pronounced "mah-reh") for a close female friend; pare (pronounced "pah-reh") for a close male friend). You may add it either before or after the greeting. Example, Mare, kumusta ka na? or Kumusta ka na, pare?
  • Tahitiania orana
  • Taiwanese (Hokkien)Li-ho
  • Tamilvanakkam
  • Telugunamaskaram, baagunnara (means "how are you?"; formal)
  • Tetum (Timor-Leste) — bondia (morning), botarde (afternoon), bonite (evening)
  • Thaisawa dee-ka (said by a female), sawa dee-krap (said by a male)
  • Tibetan - Lhasa DialectTashi delek
  • Tibetan - Amdo DialectCho demo
  • Tigrinya (Ethiopia and Eritrea) — selam (peace be with you); Haderkum (Good morning); T'ena yehabeley (May good health be upon you)
  • Tonganmalo e lelei
  • Tshilubamoyo
  • Tsonga (South Africa) — minjhani (when greeting adults), kunjhani (when greeting your peer group or your juniors)
  • Turkishmerhaba (formal), selam (Informal)
  • Ukrainiandobriy ranok (formal; morning), dobriy den (formal; afternoon), dobriy vechir (formal; evening), pryvit (informal)
  • UzbekAssalomu Alaykum (Formal) Salom(Informal) YM
  • Ung TongueHello (This is a made-up language, like Pig latin. In it 'hello' is pronounced Hung-ee-lung-lung-oh.)
  • Urdu - adaab or salam or as salam alei kum (the full form, to which the reply would be waa lay kum assalaam in most cases)
  • Vietnamesexin chào (pronounced sin CHOW)

  • Welshshwmae (South Wales; pronounced "shoe-my"), "Sut Mae" North Wales (pronounced "sit my"), or S'mae (pronounced "S' my"), or simply Helo
  • Yiddishsholem aleikhem (literally "may peace be unto you"), borokhim aboyem or gut morgn (morning), gutn ovnt (evening), gutn tog (day), gut shabbos (only used on the Sabbath)
  • YorubaE kaaro (Good morning), E kaasan (Good afternoon), E kaaale (Good evening,) O da aaro (good night)
  • Zulusawubona for one person, sanibonani for multiple people. Sawubona translates to mean 'we see you' and you should respond by saying yebo, meaning 'yes'



  • A simple "hello", "hi", wave, handshake, or kiss can be understood by most people, although this may be offensive, depending what culture the person you are greeting is from.
  • Take the time to learn the correct pronunciation. This not only helps to avoid confusion; it is also common courtesy. For example, many languages have rolled r's.
  • Do not look Navajo in the eye. It is rude in their culture, and you may receive rudeness in return.
  • When Navajos shake hands, they don't grab each other's hands in a tight handshake. They simply do a 'limp handshake,' and what counts is simply a light squeeze.
  • Make sure you use the appropriate greeting for the situation. For example, in English, we use the more formal "good morning", "good afternoon" or "good evening" to greet clients in the workplace, but the informal "hello" to greet colleagues, friends, and family.
  • Each culture and language has a different form of body language. Hand-shaking is common courtesy in Western countries such as Australia, England and America, while Korean and Japanese people keep a distance and bow, and Ukrainians are affectionate and hug or kiss. Maltese people like to kiss each other on both cheeks when you know the person well, and shake hands if it is not very informal. In India, a Namaste is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of their chest. Shaking hands is more common among men especially in cities, but a man should not shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first. Also, in India, if you are greeting a person of great respect, you should bend down and touch the person's feet, and then your chest.


  • If you visit another English-speaking country, do not imitate their accents or use their slang, as this could lead you to appear rude or presumptuous. Misusing and/or mispronouncing can make you appear inept.
  • The cultures of various places are obviously different, and the languages of those places likewise reflect this.
  • If you pronounce these words wrong, and someone points it out to you, it could be embarrassing, so try to learn the correct pronunciation! It doesn't matter too much if you do make a mistake, and most people will be sympathetic about it, but it is common courtesy to try.
  • In Europe, waving the hand back and forth can mean “No.” To wave “good-bye,” raise the palm outward and wag the fingers in unison, This is also a serious insult in Nigeria if the hand is too close to another person’s face.


All text shared under a Creative Commons License.

Published - May 2013

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