Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (2023)

Are you planning a visit to a German-speaking country? Or are you a German student who wants to meet fluent speakers and start a conversation?

know germanGreetings and farewells, and the associated etiquette, politely open the door to German language exchange.

In German, there are greetings and farewells for both formal and informal situations. Let's review some of them and help you decide which one to choose.

Learn Germanit also means discovering how to use words and expressions in their cultural context. That's why we're also talking about the role played by handshakes, hugs and the "Sie" and "Du" in German "hello".

Formal and informal greetings in German: what's the difference?

First, it's important to realize that even saying something as simple as "hello" in German can be more complicated than you might think. This is because German culture maintains a certain formality and the language respects it.

Before saying hello in German, you need to know your audience. ask yourself:

  • Is the person I am writing to more of an acquaintance than a friend?
  • Are they complete strangers?
  • You're older than me?
  • Are you an authority figure, like an employer?

If any of the above apply, contact that personIs it over there.

Is it over there(formally "you") creates a little social distance between you and strangers. It also shows extra courtesy and respect.

The formal "Du" in German isforeverin capital letters:Is it over there. (Do not case lowercase letterss,you guyscan mean "she" or "she").

Is it over thereIt can be used to formally address one or more people.

Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (1)

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they will mateIs it over therewith more formal greetings and farewells such asGood Morning(Hello/Good morning) orGoodbye(Goodbye). And, of course, I would use a respectful title with the person's last name instead of their first name.

For example, you could say"Good Morning, Sr. Schmidt"("Hola, Sr. Smith") o"Goodbye, Mrs. Müller"("Goodbye, Mrs. Müller").

When chatting with a friend or family member, someone your age or younger, you can use informal greetings and goodbyes withVon(informal, singular "you"). You can also address this person by their first name.

To approach more than one person informally, you can useyou guys, which is sometimes compared to "y'all" in English.

Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (2)

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Common Greetings and Farewells in German

Let's look at some of the most common greetings and farewells in Germany and other parts of the German-speaking world.

Since you may encounter a lot of strangers, especially when traveling, let's start with formal prayers.

German formal greeting and farewell

If you have to greet or say goodbye to unknown people, e.g.

You will also work with older people, authority figures, colleagues and acquaintances.

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German languageenglish equivalent
Good MorningGood Morning
Good Morning.Beautiful day; Hello. [used around 12:00 p.m. m. until 6:00 p.m.]
Very satisfied!Pleased! [used when meeting someone for the first time]
How are you?How are you? [Not often asked in formal situations]
Beautiful day!Have a nice day!
Good weekend!I wish you a good weekend!

Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (4)

Informal German greeting and farewell

Use these phrases with your colleagues, young people, family and friends.

German languageenglish equivalent
Chao.Goodbye [from Italian; widespread in Europe]
I am satisfied.Nice to meet you.
How are you?How are you? [talking to a person]
I am well. Is that you?I am well. Is that you?
How are you?How are you? [for informal conversations with more than one person]
How are you?How are you?
it goes wellIt works / it works.
Understood? / Everything is good?Everything is good? [responds with"Understood."]
What?Hi! What about?
Long time no see it!Long time no see it!
See you tomorrow.See you tomorrow. / See you tomorrow.
Bye for now.See you later.
See you later.See you later.

German regional greetings and farewells

These phrases can often be heard in different parts of the German-speaking world.


It is used in Bremen, on the Jutland peninsula, in Hamburg, in parts of Lower Saxony and elsewhere in and around northeastern Germany.Moín- sometimes doubled to becomeHi! Hi!— is a common regional greeting.

In some places, like Hessen, it can mean "hello" and "goodbye".

MoínIt can be used at any time of the day or night, like "hello" in English.


Derived from the Latin word for "servant", this greeting is similar to the English "at your service".

It is commonly used by older German speakers in Austria, as well as in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and other parts of southwestern Germany. Serves as "Hello" and "Goodbye".

You can also find it in other Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania.

There is no time

This word is a corruption of the expressionhave the honor.

Literally means "I have the honor". It is more commonly used by older generations in regions such as Regensburg (East Bavaria).

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AsGoodbye,you can also useThere is no timeTo say goodbye."

Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (5)

Good Morning

Good Morningis an abbreviated form of the expressionhello god ("God greets you").

We could render in EnglishGood Morninglike "God bless you". For Austrians and southern Germans, it's just a way of saying hello.

A Bavarian variant ofGood Morningesola, which also goes back to the longer version of the original phrase(Hi).

If you visit eastern or central Switzerland, you will find another version of this phrase:ola. You can useolaboth formal and informal.


You can feel the Swiss influence in Baden-Württemberg, which uses French-sounding ones.olalike a local greeting.


Means "small day"labelmeans "hello" in Saxony and Leipzig.

That works?

in Saxony,That works?(What's up?) can be used between friendsola(Hi).

german greeting etiquette

When greeting someone who speaks German, you must use the correct way to address yourself:Is it over there(formally "you") oryou, she(informally “you”), as we have already discussed.

You also need to know the role of body language and gestures in greeting in German.

(Video) Easy German Basic Phrases - Greetings

Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (6)

shaking hands

Shaking hands is firmly established in German culture as a polite greeting gesture.

A firm (but not crushing) handshake is perfectly acceptable in most cases.

hugs kisses

Have you ever met someone for the first time and experienced an unexpected hug, perhaps a kiss on the cheek as a follower? That probably won't happen in German culture.

Hugs and kisses, even pecks on the cheek, are usually reserved for someone you know well, most likely a family member or close friend. However, what you do also depends on the location.

In Germany, for example, it is common to give a kind of half-hug (with one arm) between friends, but two kisses on the cheek are more common in Austria.

The best advice is to do your best, be aware and follow the example of those around you.

Practice greetings and goodbyes in German

The greetings and farewells we've looked at are among the most importantGerman words and phrases for beginners..

Try listening to them in real German media so you can better understand how they are used by native speakers. For example,german podcastThey are a fun and effective way to learn German greetings, as presenters often use them to welcome guests to their shows.

You will also hear these phrases in German dialogues and films, as well as on German TV shows.

To practice using all kinds of German greetings and farewells in real life, you can try out these words and phrases with a German-speaking friend or teacher. A tutor can advise you on word choice and pronunciation, and help you understand cultural context and etiquette so that you are better prepared to interact with native German speakers.

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Greetings in German: Basic idioms for students and travelers (7)

Preply has a large community of German teachersfrom all German-speaking countries. A Preply tutor will tailor conversations and lessons to your specific goals and needs, working with you one-on-one when it's most convenient.

No matter how you practice your German greetings and farewells, don't be shy! Whether you're talking to strangers or friends, using formal or informal language, get out there and start sayingola.


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