When you travel to any German-speaking countries, you’ll find that the words and phrases you use most frequently will be the common German greetings (Grüße). The words and phrases will quickly become second nature because you use them day in and day out with everyone you come across.
As you’d expect, you should use a polite greeting when you run into someone you know or want to know. But in most German-speaking countries it’s considered good manners to greet everyone. So, whether you’re speaking to a clerk, a waiter, or just bumping into someone on the street, you should still take the time to say a polite Guten Tag before you proceed.
German Greetings – Begrüßung / Grüße auf Deutsch
The most common ways to greet someone in German are
- Hallo/ Hi – hah-loh (Hello)
- Grüß Gott (Hello [in Southern Germany])
- Guten Morgen – goot-en morgen (Good morning)
- Guten Tag – goot-en tak (Good Day/ Good Afternoon)
- Guten Abend – goot-en ah-bent (Good evening)
- Gute Nacht – goot-eh nakht (Good Night)
- Gute Nacht Schlaf Schön (Good Night Sleep Well)
Note: Do you know nouns have gender in German? Well, this is a complicated language. Just to be clear, in terms of meaning, there is no difference between Gute and Guten. The reason you use Guten when with Morgen and Tag is that these nouns are masculine. The reason you use Gute with Nacht is that this noun is feminine.
Tip: Although people in Germany usually prefer to greet non-family members with handshakes instead of the cheek kissing that is customary in most of Europe, cheek kissing is still a common type of greeting in many German-speaking countries. However, the rules regarding the number of kisses to give and knowing when and who to kiss change from place to place. The good news is that when you meet someone for the first time, you can usually just shake hands. Then just watch how other people interact. You’ll quickly recognize the pattern.
There are also many ways to say goodbye.
- Auf Wiedersehen – owf-VEEder-zane(Goodbye)
- Tschüss/ Tschüssi – tchews (Goodbye [Informal])
- Auf Wiederhören (Goodbye [on the telephone])
- Bis spätter – biss shpay-ter (See you later)
- Bis bald – biss bahlt (See you soon)
- Bis morgen – biss mohr-gen (See you tomorrow)
- Bis Freitag (See you on Friday)
- Alles Gute (All the best)
- Viel Glück – feel glewk (Good luck)
- Machs gut (Take care)
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- german-speaking countries
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