In Germany, as well as in all the other german speaking countries, german greetings are an essential part of any social interaction. They show the good manners and education you possess and, most important, the respect you have for other people you interact with. So, using german greetings in nearly every day-to-day situations is quite common – whether in business-meetings, comunication with authorities or when just meeting your friends. Appropriate german greeting is always a good way to get started!
You will see that it is quite easy learning, remembering and using german greetings, as you will need and apply them every day! And once you‘re into it, „Guten Tag“ will not get out of your head anymore…
Here you can see the most comon greetings used in german-speaking countries. We will differ between formal german greetings you use in business-situations or with authorities and german greetings you use among friends and family.
Informal German Greetings
- Hallo [ˈhalo] – Hello
- Hi [haɪ̯] – Hi
„Hallo“ and „Hi“ are the most comon informal german greetings. You can use them with gestures like giving the hand to the person or giving a short hug. Other informal greetings are:
- Servus! [sẹrvus] – Hello!
- Wie geht’s? [viːˈge:ts] – How are you?
- Alles klar? [ˈaləs kla:ɐ] – Are you all right?
„Servus“ is a greeting mainly used in the southern part of Germany, Austria and North Tirol, Italy. You can use it in these regions as a simple „Hello“.
Phrases as „Wie gehts’s?“ and „Alles klar?“ are another comon form of german greetings among friends and family. As an answer, a simple „Gut, danke!“ (Yes, thank you!) or „Ja, danke!“ (Yes, thank you!) can be the answer.
Written informal German Greetings
Well, letters as a normal form of day-to-day comuncation between friends and family became a little bit outdated. But, of course, informal german greetings still ocure in written form in Emails and other text-messages.
- Lieber [ˈli:bɐ] – Dear
„Lieber“ might be the most important form of beginning and informal letter or text-message.
Formal German Greetings
So, formal german greetings, as already mentioned, are mainly used when talking to authorites, older people, unknown people and in business. A handshake and eye-contact are mandatory, hugs are a no-go when you want to greet someone in a formal way. Kisses are no comon gesture, although it can ocure in formal and informal greetings. There are no rules how many kisses on which side you have to give.
Here are the most important formal german greetings:
- Guten Morgen! [gu:ten ˈmɔrgən] – Good Morning!
- Guten Tag! [gu:ten ta:k] – Good Day!
- Guten Abend! [gu:ten ˈa:bənd] – Good Evening!
Whereas „Guten Morgen!“ is a phrase normally used when getting up but also when greeting people in the morning, „Guten Tag!“ and „Guten Abend!“ can be seen a more formal german greetings to use – „Guten Tag“ as one of the most comon phrase and „Guten Abend“ as a rather old-fashioned german greeting being used when greeting people who are much older than yourself.
- Grüß Gott! [grü:s gɔt] – God greets you!
- Grüß dich! [grü:s dɪç] – God greets you!
- Grüß Sie! [grü:s zi:] – God greets you!
- Grüezi! [ˈgry:ɛtsi] – God greets you!
German greetings like „Grüß Gott!“ and related phrases are used in the southern parts of Germany, especially in Bavaria. You will not hear them in other parts of Germany. Also Austria and Switzerland use these german greetings, whereas only in Switzerland „Grüezi“ is comon.
This way to greet is seen as an old-fashioned way, also in these german speaking parts of the world – nevertheless you will hear them quite often. Remeber that there is a diference between „Grüß Sie!“ (formal) and „Grüß dich!“ (informal).
Written formal German Greetings
When writing a formal letter or email, you should always use the right greeting, as formal aspects are seen as quite important in german-speaking countries. The way you write oficial letters or emails reflects the respect you demonstrate towads the person or authority you talk to.
You can distinguish between two forms:
- Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren – To whom it may concern
- Sehr geehrter Herr / Sehr geehrte Frau – Dear Sir / Dear Madam
As you know, the adjective „geehrte“ / „geehrter“ adapts to the Noun, in this case to the female noun „Frau“ (Madam) or the male noun „Herr“ (Sir).
Saying Goodbye in German can have many diferent forms, too! We will now see informal and formal phrases and words, aswell as vocabulary you mainly use in phone-conversations and written messages.
Informal German Goodbyes
Well, no further explanation needed – here are the most comon informal ways to say goodbye to each other among friends and family.
- Tschüss! [tʃʏs] – Bye!
- Bis später! [bɪs ˈʃpɛ:tɐ] – See you later!
- Bis bald! [bɪs balt] – See you soon!
- Machs Gut! [maxs gu:t] – Take care!
- Viel Glück! [fi:l glʏk] – Good luck!
- Servus! [ˈsɛrvʊs] – Good Bye!
- Pfiade! [bfiàdde] – Good Bye!
„Servus!“ is a way to say hello, but it can also be used as a way to say goodbye! It simply depends on the context of the conversation, whether you want to start or end it. „Pfiade!“ is used in southern Germany, especially Bavaria, and also in Austria and parts of Switzerland. Only people from these regions acutally understand and use it – so, be carful when aplying it in northern Germany.. People there won’t understand you! By the way, its official translation would be „May god lead you!“.
In order to end an informal written text you can use many diferent kinds of phrases and words. But there is one phrase that is used 99% of the time:
- Viele Grüße! [fi:lə ˈgry:sə] – Best regards!
- Liebe Grüße! [ˈli:bə ˈgry:sə] – Love, … !
Formal German Goodbyes
For saying goodbye to someone in a formal way, you can use the widly known phrase:
- Auf Wiedersehen! – Good bye!
- Auf Wiedehören! – Good bye!
German speakers often mention the frase „Ich wünsche Ihnen noch einen schönen Tag“ – I wish you’ll have a good day! „Auf Wiederhören“ is directly translated as „It would be nice to hear from you again“ – as you can see, it is used as a formal way to say goodbye to someone you talk by phone in a formal way.
Written Formal German Goodbyes
You can end an email or a letter in a formal way by mainly two expressions:
- Hochachtungsvoll – Yours faithfully
- Mit freundlichen Grüßen – Yours sincerely
Well, Hopefully all these ways of greeting and saying goodbye have been usefull to you and will help you doing your first steps into conversations in german. Here I leave you this link to even more German greetings, just in case you are interested in more: https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/German_vocabulary/Greetings_and_Phrases
So, once you begin speaking this language more actively, you will notice that all these words and phrases are of day-to-day use and will enter your mind faster than you think. Check out our other grammar topics on language-easy.org for a broad overview of german grammar!