Spanish 101: Greetings and Farewells
Have you ever tried to start a conversation with a native Spanish speaker but didn’t know how to do it?
That’s normal and just part of the struggles every new learner of the language has to go through.
Luckily, I’m here to help by introducing you to the most common and useful Spanish greetings and farewells.
Keep reading to learn why greetings are so important in Spanish, the main types of Spanish greetings, and—most importantly—how to use them.
Table of Contents:
- Why Greetings in Spanish Matter
- Initial Greetings
- Secondary Greetings
- Letter and Email Greetings
- Phone Greetings
- Practice These Spanish Greetings and Improve Your Spanish
Why Greetings in Spanish Matter
Greetings are a critical part of our conversations in any language. They are like a key that opens endless doors—and those doors are actually new people, new conversations, new connections.
However, Spanish greetings are particularly crucial, due to the importance given to personal relationships in this culture. If you’ve ever seen two Argentinians greet each other and compare that to how two Germans greet each other, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
The effusivity of the Latin greeting tells a lot about the importance given to it in the Spanish and Latin American cultures.
Just remember that in Spanish there are formal and informal “you” conjugations. Depending on the situation, you may have to use one or another. With this in mind, I specify which type of “you” is required in any given situation.
These are the greetings that open up conversations and shrink the distance between two people. As their name implies, these are the greetings that start a conversation.
Hola – Hello, hi
Hola is the most common Spanish greeting.
Although it’s considered informal by some, in reality you can say it to your best friend or to a complete stranger. It’s one of the best conversation starters in Spanish and it’s usually followed by one of the questioning greetings included below.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hello, how are you?
Buenos días – Good morning
Say buenos días from the early morning and all the way to noon. This basic phrase is more formal than a simple hola, but still can be used in informal contexts.
¡Buenos días vecino; disfrute su domingo!
Good morning neighbor; enjoy your Sunday!
Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
Use buenas tardes from noon to sunset, although between 6 pm and 8 pm different people would either say buenas tardes or buenas noches (good night) depending on the amount of daylight and country of origin.
Sadly, Spanish doesn’t have the equivalent of “good evening” that would solve this issue.
Buenas tardes, ¿me puede decir a qué hora llega el siguiente tren?
Good afternoon, can you tell me at what time the next train arrives?
Buenas noches – Good night
Use this phrase after sunset to greet someone. It also serves as a farewell. Like buenos días, it works in both formal and informal situations.
Buenas noches, me voy a dormir.
Good night, I’m going to sleep,
Also known as “checking-in greetings,” these are the questions you use in Spanish to “check” how the other person is. It’s a common way to express your interest in the other person in a polite way.
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
Arguably the most common questioning greeting in Spanish. ¿Cómo estás? usually comes after one of the initial greetings.
Although you’re asking about the other person’s mood and condition, an answer isn’t always expected. It’s an informal greeting, but if you change it just a little bit to ¿cómo está? it becomes a formal greeting.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hi, how are you?
¿Qué tal? – How are you?
¿Qué tal? means pretty much the same thing as ¿cómo estás?, although you can add “how’s it going?” or “how are things?” as possible translations.
If anything, it’s more common to hear ¿qué tal? In Spain than in Latin America. Read this post about the differences between ¿qué tal? and ¿cómo estás?
Hola, ¿qué tal?
Hello, how’s it going?
¿Cómo te va? – How are you doing?
Here’s a list of questions that basically express the same idea as ¿cómo estás?.
¿Cómo te va? is one of the most popular ones.
|¿qué haces?||what are you up to?|
|¿cómo va tu día?||how is your day going?|
|¿qué hay?||what’s up?|
|¿qué hay de nuevo?||what’s new?|
|¿qué pasa?||what’s up?|
|¿cómo va todo?||how’s everything going?|
|¿qué onda? (slang)||what’s up?|
|¿quiubo? (slang)||what’s up?|
When talking about Spanish greetings, it’s essential to consider goodbyes. They’re part of the same type of vocabulary you need to learn to master your conversations in Spanish.
Let’s take a look now at some of the most common farewells in Spanish.
|nos vemos al rato||see you later|
|nos estamos viendo||see you around|
|hasta luego||see you later|
|hasta mañana||see you tomorrow|
|hasta pronto||see you soon|
|hasta la vista||see you soon|
|que descanses||rest up|
|que tenga un buen día||have a good day|
Letter and Email Greetings
When writing a formal letter or a business email, you need to use a formal vocabulary and specific Spanish greetings. Here are some of the most common ones:
|Estimado Señor/Señora/Señorita _____||Dear Mr./Mrs/ Miss _____|
|A quien corresponda||To whom it may concern|
|Reciba un cordial saludo||I give you a warm greeting|
|Un cordial saludo||Cordial greetings|
|Le saludo atentamente||Yours faithfully|
|Un saludo afectuoso||Warm wishes|
What do you say when you answer the phone in Spanish? If you aren’t sure, you’ll find the next table helpful.
Practice These Spanish Greetings and Improve Your Spanish
Learning these useful Spanish greetings will take your conversations to the next level and get you one step closer to achieving Spanish fluency. If you have kids or young students, show them this fun video about Spanish greetings for kids. Once you watch it, practice the greetings with them using strategies such as flashcards or singing a Spanish greetings song.
Remember that speaking Spanish has many benefits, including making traveling to Latin American countries easier and opening the door to better jobs.
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