When I travel abroad and don’t know the language I usually like to learn at least a few basic words. It doesn’t just help you get around, but it’s also considered quite polite by the locals. They realize right away that you’ve put a little effort into learning about their culture and language.
Because to greet someone is one of the most basic functions of a language I will give you a few phrases to say hello in German.
General phrases used to say hello in German
”Hallo” – simple enough. “Hallo” is the equal to hello in German and the most versatile German greeting. It’s neither formal nor informal and not related to a particular situation. You can’t go wrong with it and if you don’t know what else to use simply go with it.
”Guten Tag” means „Good Day“ and is a more formal way to say hello in German. It is appropriate if you would like to greet someone on the street to ask for directions, address a waiter in a restaurant or ask something in a shop. If you are meeting someone for the first time or talking to a stranger on the phone you should use “Guten Tag”.
”Guten Morgen” and ”Guten Abend” are variations of the above, meaning “Good Morning” and “Good Evening”. If you want to say hello in German and refer to the time of day, this is a good expression to use. Otherwise it is the same as “Guten Tag”.
”Hi” is the same as the English “Hi”, so it is quite informal and a good way to greet your friends and people you already know.
Shortened versions: It is also possible to shorten expressions like “Guten Tag” by omitting the first word “Guten”. So you would simply get “Tag”, “n’Abend” (the n’ is just a sort of leftover from “GuteN”) and “Morgen” as alternative and more informal ways to say hello in German than the full expression.
Local phrases to say hello in German
There are also some ways to say hello in German, which are mainly used in certain regions. Just listen to the people around you and you will get a clue as to what they are using.
”Servus” and ” Grüß Gott” are being used in the South of Germany, Bavaria for example, as well as in Austria.
”Moin” or Moin, moin is used to say hello in German by people in Northern Germany. It is a variation “Morgen” but can be used any time of day to say hello.
Hello in German – Pronunciation
When I started this blog entry about ways to say hello in German, I wanted to write out how to pronounce the various ways to say hello in German, but found that it is quite ambiguous and not very accurate. What I recommend you do is go to the LEO Dictionary, type in the phrase and you will get a result with a small speaker icon next to it. If you click on that it will play a short audio file with the pronunciation. If you have any other questions about how to say hello in German just leave a message below or drop me a mail.