In this post, we share some quick lesson of “Saying Hello, Goodbye, and How Are You? in German (Deutsch)”. The first part of your greeting is a basic hello. How you say hello depends on what time of day it is.
Saying Hello in German (Deutsch)
Check out this list:
- Guten Morgen! (gooh-ten mor-gen!) (Good morning!) This is the greeting you use in the morning (until about noon).
- Guten Tag! (gooh-ten tahk!) (Hello!) This is the most common greeting you use, except early in the morning and late in the day.
- Guten Abend! (gooh-ten ah-bent!) (Good evening!) Obviously, this is the greeting of choice in the evening.
- Hallo! (hâ-loh!) (Hello!) You should be pretty comfortable with this informal greeting, because it’s obviously very similar to English’s hello.
Saying Goodbye in German (Deutsch)
When the time comes to part, you can say:
- Auf Wiedersehen! (ouf vee-der-zey-en!) (Goodbye!) This is the standard, formal goodbye.
- Gute Nacht! (gooh-te nâHt!) (Good night!) You use this farewell when you say goodbye late at night.
- War nett, Sie kennenzulernen. (vahr nêt, zee kên-en-tsoo-lêrn-en.) (It was nice meeting you.) You use this phrase to tell people that you enjoyed meeting them for the first time.
- Tschüs! (chues!) (Bye!) This is the informal way of saying goodbye.
You say “Grüß Gott,” I say “Grüezi” People in Southern Germany, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland certainly understand you when you wish them Guten Morgen/ Guten Tag/Guten Abend (depending on the time of day). However, people in these regions also use some other greetings.
In Switzerland, you hear Grüezi (grue-e-tsee) (hello) most often. And people who know each other well use salut (sâ-lue) to say both hi and bye.)
In Southern Germany and Austria, you say hello with Grüß Gott (grues gôt) or its informal version, Grüß dich. Good friends express both hi and bye with the casual Servus (sêr- voohs). Especially among younger German speakers, you hear the informal goodbye, Ciao (chou), which has made its way north across the Alps from Italy.
Mr., Mrs., and the slippery Miss
Herr (hêr) is the German word for Mr., and Frau (frou) expresses Mrs. The same word, die Frau (dee frou), also means woman, as well as wife, as in meine Frau (mayn-e frou) (my wife). No German equivalent for the English Ms. exists, so you need to use Frau.
German also has the word Fräulein (froy-layn), which used to be the German version of Miss and was the proper way to address an unmarried woman. However, those days are long gone. So address a woman as Frau, regardless of her marital status. Or, when in doubt, leave it out. But what if you need to catch the attention of any person (for example, someone who has just dropped something)? Simply say Entschuldigung! (ênt-shool-deegoong!) (Excuse me!)
Fräulein is also a bygone expression for a waitress, relegated to the days of yore. To get
a German waitress’s attention, simply apply the tried-and-true methods of making eye contact or raising your hand unobtrusively.
Asking How are you? in German (Deutsch)
The next step after greeting someone in German is, of course, asking the question How are you? Whether you use the formal or the informal version of the question depends on whom you’re talking to. Sound complicated? Well, figuring out which form to use is easier than you may think.
The following three versions of How are you? use three dative-case pronouns that represent you. Ihnen (een-en) is the dative equivalent of Sie, dir (deer) represents du, and euch (oyH) stands in for ihr.
Here’s a breakdown of what to use when:
- Wie geht es Ihnen? (vee geyt ês een-en?) (How are you?) This is the formal version.
- Wie geht es dir? (vee geyt ês deer?) (How are you?) This is the informal, singular version.
- Wie geht’s? (vee geyts?) (How’s it going?) When you know someone really well, you can use this casual question.
- Wie geht es euch? (vee geyt ês oyH?) (How are you?) Use this when talking to several people informally.
Meeting and greeting go hand in hand Greetings and introductions are often accompanied by some form of bodily contact.
In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, hand-shaking is the most common form of bodily
contact during greetings and introductions. Female friends may kiss each other on the cheek or give each other a hug. Men usually don’t kiss or hug each other, although they may greet a woman friend with a hug (and a kiss).
You may notice that people in Europe often stand closer to you than you’re used to, for
example, in stores, on the bus or subway, or when they’re talking to you.
Replying to How are you? in German (Deutsch)
In English, the question How are you? is often just a way of saying hello, and no one will raise an eyebrow if you don’t answer. In German, however, a reply is customary.
The following are acceptable answers to the question How are you?
- Danke, gut. (dân-ke, gooht.) (Thanks, I’m fine.) or Gut, danke. (gooht, dân-ke.) (Fine, thanks.)
- Sehr gut. (zeyr gooht.) (Very good.)
- Ganz gut. (gânts gooht.) (Really good.)
- Es geht. (ês geyt.) (So, so.) This German expression actually means it goes.
- Nicht so gut. (niHt zoh gooht.) (Not so good.)
As in English, the reply would usually be accompanied by the question And (how are) you?, which is easy:
First the formal version:
- Und Ihnen? (oont een-en?) (And you?)
And here’s how you pose the question informally:
- Und dir? (oont deer?) (And you?) (singular, informal you)
- Und euch? (oont oyH?) (And you?) (plural, informal you)
If you have any doubt or suggestions for us, or even if we missed something to mention. Let us know by writing in a comment box. Thanks for reading and sharing with your friends.