So you want to say “hello” in Spanish?
Hola, amigo and welcome to this extensive guide on Spanish greetings!
Yes, you’ve read the title right: I’m going to teach you how to greet someone in Spanish in 70+ different ways, because this article covers all occasions!
Why bother learning this many Spanish ways to say hi, you may ask? After all, knowing hola might be enough, right?
Well, let me give you a few reasons to go the extra mile and become a pro at using Spanish greetings.
First of all, saying “hello” is one of the most crucial parts of a conversation – that’s whether you say “hello” in Spanish, or in any language. We all know how important first impressions are to build solid relationships. It takes only a few seconds for a person to form an opinion of you, so you might as well use this short time for your benefit. By using a good greeting to start a conversation, you’ll surely be putting your best foot forward!
Secondly, you need to know when to use a formal Spanish greeting, and when to go with an informal one. Think about it. Do you greet your boss and friends the same way? Probably not. That’s why it’s better to learn how to say both “good morning” and “hey, what's up?” in Spanish before you set off for an adventure in a Spanish-speaking region.
Last but not least… I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to always use the generic “hi”. Spanish has a rich variety of greetings available and I take full advantage of that. Switching ways to say hi is a great way to add some spice to a conversation.
So, are you ready to learn how to say “hello” in Spanish?
Genial, ¡vamos! (“Great, let’s go!”)
“Hello” in Spanish: ¡Hola!
”Hello” en español es “hola”. (“Hello in Spanish is hola.”)
Hola is the standard Spanish greeting. It’s not too formal nor does it sound colloquial, so you can use it in most situations.
In Spanish, the h is silent, so you would pronounce hola as you would ola. Don’t confuse the two, however, because the latter means “wave”.
“Hi” in Spanish: ¡Hola!
There isn’t really a way to say “hi” in Spanish. In fact, it’s exactly the same as “hello”: you simply say hola.
In some Latin-American countries, you will probably hear some cutified versions of hola such as holi or holis, but they’re not fit for use outside of informal groups. They’re also mainlyused by young girls.
“Hey” in Spanish: Hey
Just like with “hi”, there isn’t an outright equivalent to “hey” in Spanish, so you should translate it as hola.
You might use oye (“hear”) as a very informal greeting with close friends, but that may come across as a little rude.
Hey is quite frequent in Latin America along with its phonetically adapted version uey, but you might want to avoid the latter if you’re not yet sure how and when to use it properly because it’s extremely slangy.
“How Are You?” in Spanish: ¿Cómo estás?
The best way to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish is Hola, ¿cómo estás? This phrase is composed of the first greeting we learned plus the interrogative word cómo, and the second-person conjugation of the verb estar (“to be”).
To use the phrase properly, you have to remember that, in Spanish, there are several “you” pronouns. Pay attention to the number of people you are addressing and the way you are addressing them — formal or informal — to choose the right conjugation of estar:
- tú (informal singular “you”) – ¿Cómo estás?
- vos (informal singular “you” used in some Latin American countries) – ¿Cómo estás?
- usted (formal singular “you”) – ¿Cómo está?
- vosotros (the informal plural “you” used in Spain, but not in other Spanish-speaking countries) – ¿Cómo estáis?
- ustedes (formal plural “you” in Spain, standard plural “you” in Latin America) – ¿Cómo están?
In Spanish, the pronoun is often dropped from the sentence because it’s easily recognized in the conjugated form — as the verb agrees with the pronoun in number and formality. However, in Central America, it is common to punctuate the formal versions of ¿Cómo est-? with the corresponding pronoun: ¿Cómo está usted?, ¿Cómo están ustedes?
An Alternative Way to Say “How Are You?” in Spanish: ¿Cómo andas?
¿Cómo andas? is more informal than ¿Cómo estás?, but it’s a fairly frequent way to say “How are you?” in Spanish.
It’s a tricky phrase to translate into English because the verb andar can mean a lot of things, among which “to walk”, “to go”, and “to ride”. When used in sentences, ¿Cómo andas? can mean “how are you doing?”, “how’s it going?”, and “how are you fixed?”, as in ¿Cómo andas de dinero? (“How are you for money?”).
However, when used alone, ¿Cómo andas? is a casual greeting.
Just like with ¿Cómo estás?, pay attention to the correct conjugation of andar based on the person you’re greeting:
- tú – ¿Cómo andas? (With vos, it’s ¿Cómo andás?)
- usted – ¿Cómo anda?
- vosotros – ¿Cómo andáis?
- ustedes – ¿Cómo andan?
You might wonder why I’ve included formal pronouns if ¿Cómo andas? is informal. In Latin America, it’s common for people to use slightly informal greetings with someone they speak to formally, so it’s probable that you will come across formal versions of ¿Cómo andas? if you’re headed there.
“How Are You Today?” in Spanish
If you want to ask “How are you today?” in Spanish, just add hoy (“today”) to ¿Cómo estás? or ¿Cómo andas?: ¿Cómo estás hoy? / ¿Cómo andas hoy?
Replace cómo with qué tal
¿Qué tal? on its own means “What’s up?” in Spanish, and I’ll share more on that later. When it replaces cómo, however, qué tal stands for “how”.
- ¿Cómo estás? becomes ¿Qué tal estás? (“How are you?”)
- ¿Cómo andas? becomes ¿Qué tal andas? (“How are you?”)
“How Are You Doing?” in Spanish: ¿Cómo te va?
Instead of saying “How are you doing?”, Spanish-speaking people say ¿Cómo te va? (“How is it going for you?”)
The phrase includes the verb ir conjugated at the singular third-person, so the only thing that changes depending on the “you” is the indirect object pronoun.
Check them out:
- tú and vos – ¿Cómo te va?
- usted – ¿Cómo le va?
- vosotros – ¿Cómo os va?
- ustedes – ¿Cómo les va?
Spanish Responses to “How You’re Doing?”
Let’s imagine the conversation between two friends who’ve just crossed paths on their way to work (it needs to be quick and effective):
“John, hi! How are you?”
“Patrick! Good, and you?”
“Very well, thanks!”
“Alright, see you soon!”
With the vocabulary you’ve learnt so far in this article, you’d be able to carry out the first part of this conversation just fine in Spanish:
¡Pablo, hola! ¿Cómo estás?
Now let’s learn how to reproduce the next two lines, the ones to respond to “How are you?”
(For the goodbyes part, you should check out our post on how to say goodbye in Spanish in 65+ ways!)
How to Say “Good, and You?” in Spanish
The best way to say “Good, and you?” in Spanish is Bien, ¿y tú?
If you want to say more than bien, you could say todo bien (“everything’s good”).
How to Say “Very Well, Thanks” in Spanish
To say “Very well, thanks” in Spanish, you would say Muy bien, gracias.
You can replace muy bien by bien, excelente (“excellent”) or genial (“amazing”), though genial is more informal.
In some Latin American countries, the gracias part is sometimes extended to gracias a Dios (“thanks to God”).
How to Say “So-So” in Spanish
Here are some answers to use if you’re not feeling good but not feeling bad either:
- Así así – “so-so”
- Más o menos – “so-so”
- Normal – “okay”
- Regular – “okay”
How to Say “Not So Good” in Spanish
If you want to say the truth and tell your friend that you’re not feeling good, you could say:
- No tan bien – “Not so good.”
- No muy bien – “Not very well.”
- Mal – “bad”
- Fatal – “awful”. (Fatal is colloquial and mostly used in Spain.)
“What's Up” in Spanish: ¿Qué tal?
What if “How are you?” and “How are you doing?” are too serious and you want to use a more laid-back greeting? “What’s up?” is exactly what you need.
Prepare yourself for some of the variety I warned you about in the introduction. It’s hard to count how many ways there are to say “what’s up?” in Spanish!
The reason for this is the large number of Spanish dialects. Almost every Spanish-speaking country has its own regionalism to translate “what’s up?”. Even some countries where Spanish is not the official language have their own version!
Here are some ways to say “what’s up?” in Spanish:
- ¿Qué tal? – It’s mostly used in Spain but it can pop up in conversations in other Spanish-speaking regions as well. It’s also used as “How is it going?” or to replace “how” in questions, as we saw above.
- ¿Qué pasa? – “What’s happening?”
- ¿Qué pasó? – “What happened?”
- ¿Qué onda? – This one is popular in Central America and sometimes concluded with güey or güero (“dude”).
- ¿Qué más? – Literally “What else?”
- ¿Qué hay? – Hay is the third person conjugation of the verb haber, so the question is “What is there?” in the sense of “What’s happening?” or “What’s new?”
- ¿Qué hubo? – Literally “What happened”, this phrase’s meaning is the same as that of ¿Qué hay?
- ¿Qué hay de nuevo? – “What’s new?”
- ¿Qué es lo que? – Contracted version of ¿Qué es lo que hay? (“What is there?”). Tthis one is chiefly used in the Dominican Republic, and you’ll also hear its shorter form Qué lo que?
- ¿Qué cuentas? – It’s hard to translate this one, but it means something along the lines of “What news do you have to tell?” It also sometimes appears as ¿Qué me cuentas? (“Tell me what’s new”) and ¿Qué nos cuentas? (“Tell us what’s new.”)
- ¿Qué haces? – “What are you doing?”
You can see that in ¿Qué cuentas? and ¿Qué haces?, the verbs are conjugated with tú, the informal second-person pronoun. It’s important to remember to modify the verbs in these two phrases depending on the appropriate Spanish “you”.
Here’s how you would do that:
- tú – ¿Qué cuentas? and ¿Qué haces? (With vos, it’s ¿Qué contás? and ¿Qué hacés?)
- usted – ¿Qué cuenta? and ¿Qué hace?
- vosotros – ¿Qué contáis? and ¿Qué hacéis?
- ustedes – ¿Qué cuentan? and ¿Qué hacen?
Obviously, as “what’s up?” is a informal greeting, you might not use the formal versions of these phrases very often, but it’s good to know them nonetheless. As I mentioned before, in Latin America, people sometimes use slightly informal greetings with someone they speak to formally.
“Good Morning” in Spanish: ¡Buenos días!
To wish someone a good morning in Spanish, you would say ¡Buenos días!, literally “good days.” In fact, the singular version of the phrase, buen día, means “good day” in Spanish.
So why use the plural?
There are several theories to answer this question. One I like is that ¡Buenos días! is only the contraction of a longer expression — which might have been something along the lines of Buenos días guarden a vos (a way to say “May your days be good” in dated Spanish). Since technology wasn’t present to make conversations instantaneous back then, people often didn’t see each other every day So, they would swap greetings that lasted a good amount of time.
Today, you say ¡Buenos días!, meaning “good morning”, but it’s not uncommon to simply hear ¡Buen día!
Note that ¡Buen día! is also used as a goodbye.
“Good Afternoon” in Spanish: ¡Buenas tardes!
¡Buenas tardes! is the correct way to say “good afternoon” in Spanish. In Latin America, you might also hear its shorter version: ¡Buenas!. The tardes is implied.
Unlike with ¡Buenos días!, the singular version of ¡Buenas tardes! isn’t a correct way to say “good afternoon”.
“Good Evening” in Spanish: ¡Buenas noches!
There is no literal translation of “good evening” in Spanish simply because there isn’t a Spanish equivalent for “evening”. In fact, the noche (“night”) comes immediately after the tarde — around 6, 7, or 8 pm, depending on the region’s culture.
¡Buenas noches! is also a way to wish someone a good night.
How to Greet Someone You’ve Just Met in Spanish
We don’t usually use the same greetings with friends as with people we’ve just met. To the first, we might say something like, “What’s up, dude?” To the latter, it’s more along the lines of “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to Meet You” in Spanish
There are two ways to say “nice to meet you” in Spanish:
- Mucho gusto (literally “much pleasure”)
- Encantado/a (“glad”, literally “enchanted”)
To make the phrases fuller, you can add the verb conocer (“know”) along with the appropriate direct object pronoun depending on the “you” you are using:
- tú or vos – Mucho gusto conocerte
- usted – Mucho gusto en conocerle (This is not the grammatically correct form, but it’s frequently used.)
- usted (with a man) – Mucho gusto en conocerlo
- usted (with a woman) – Mucho gusto en conocerla
- vosotros – Encantado de conoceros
- ustedes – Encantada de conocerles (Again, not the grammatically correct form, but it is often used.)
- ustedes (with men) – Encantada de conocerlos
- ustedes (with women) – Encantada de conocerlas
Note: You can say both Mucho gusto conocerte and Mucho gusto en conocerte.
“What’s Your Name” in Spanish: ¿Cómo te llamas?
To ask someone for their name in Spanish, you would ask them ¿Cómo te llamas? (literally “How are you called?”)
- tú – ¿Cómo te llamas? (With vos, it’s ¿Cómo te llamás?)
- usted – ¿Cómo se llama usted?
- vosotros – ¿Cómo os llamáis?
- ustedes – ¿Cómo se llaman?
You could also say: ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (“What’s your name?”)
Remember to use the correct possessive pronoun:
- tú and vos – ¿Cuál es tu nombre?
- usted – ¿Cuál es su nombre?
- vosotros – ¿Cuál es vuestro nombre?
- ustedes – ¿Cuál es su nombre?
“My Name Is…” in Spanish: Mi nombre es…
To introduce yourself in Spanish, you can say:
- Mi nombre es… – “My name is…”
- Soy… – “I am…”
- Me llamo… – “I am called…”
How to Say “Welcome!” in Spanish:
To greet someone in Spanish by letting them know they’re welcome, you would say ¡Bienvenido! if your guest is a man, ¡Bienvenida! if she is a woman.
If you’re having several people over, say ¡Bienvenidos! to only men or a mixed group and ¡Bienvenidas! to only women.
Spanish Greetings for Letters, Emails, Texts, and Phone Calls
Saying “hi” in person is not the same as opening an email or picking up the phone. So what Spanish greetings are appropriate to use in letters, emails, texts, and phone calls?
Let me introduce you to some of the most common:
Spanish Greetings for Letters and Emails
Not all letters and emails can start in the same way, right? In some, you need to be formal, in others, more friendly. Maybe you might not even know who you are writing to and need something neutral.
Here are some of the most common Spanish greetings to use in letters and emails:
- Estimado/a Señor/Señora/Señorita – “Dear Sir/Mrs./Ms.” or “Esteemed Sir/Mrs./Ms.” This is a formal greeting. You can complete the title with the last name of the person you’re addressing. The plural form is Estimados Señores” with men and *Estimadas Señoras/Señoritas with women.
- Distinguido/a Señor/Señora/Señorita – “Distinguished Sir/Mrs./Ms.” This is another formal greeting, to which you can add the person’s name as well. The plural form is Distinguidos Señores” with men and *Distinguidas Señoras/Señoritas with women.
- Querido/a… – “Dear…” This is an informal greeting, one you would use with someone with whom you use tú. Add the person’s name for a more personal effect.
- A quien corresponda – “To Whom it May Concern”
It’s also possible that you receive correspondence starting with a simple Buenos días.
Note: Remember that greetings in Spanish letters or emails are always followed by a colon and not a coma, like this:
Estimado Señor Vásquez:
Texts and Phone Calls
In Spanish, you can send a quick greeting by only typing:
- hla – It’s hola, but without the o.
- q tl – ¿Qué tal?
- salu2 – saludos (“greetings”)
There also are abbreviations for most of the different ways to say “what’s up”. In the Dominican Republic, you can text a friend klk, which stands for Qué lo que? It’s easy to pick these up once you’re in contact with natives.
Now let’s talk about phone calls. Spanish-speakers have different ways to answer when they pick up the phone depending on the region where they are from. Some you might come across are:
- Hola – “Hello”
- Aló or jaló – Typical interjections for picking up a call.
- Olá – Another interjection typical of answering phone calls, mainly used in Latin America.
- Bueno – “Well”
- Dígame – “Tell me”
- Diga – “Tell” and the “me” is implied. Diga can also translate as “do tell”.
- Sí – “Yes?”
- Gracias por llamar… – “Thank you for calling…” This one is a standard answer you may receive when you call a company or business.
- En que le puedo ayudar? – “How may I help you?”
If you’re the one calling, you can use phrases you’ve previously learned in this post while keeping in mind the details about formality and proper use of pronouns.
Spanish Greetings for Specific Occasions
There are specific occasions throughout the year for which we use special greetings. Whether it’s a holiday, birthday or any other noteworthy event, these dates all have their own Spanish phrase.
Most often, these greetings are composed of the adjective feliz (“happy”) and the occasion’s name.
- Cumpleaños (“Birthday”) – Feliz cumpleaños
- Aniversario (“Anniversary”) – Feliz aniversario
- Año Nuevo (“New Year”) – Feliz Año Nuevo; Another common greeting for the New Year is Prospero Año Nuevo (“Prosperous New Year”)
- San Valentín (“Valentine’s Day”) – Feliz San Valentín
- Día de la Mujer (“Women’s Day”) – Feliz Día de la Mujer
- Pascua (“Easter”) – Feliz Pascua
- Jánuca (“Hanukkah”) – Feliz Jánuca
- Navidad (“Christmas”) – Feliz Navidad
You can also say mejores deseos (“best wishes”) on occasions such as birthdays.
The Noun “Greetings” in Spanish
In Spanish, the noun for “greeting” is saludo, which derives from the verb saludar (“say hi”).
Funnily enough, saludo is also used to say bye, but generally when it’s in plural form — saludos. For example, a formal Spanish letter closure is cordiales saludos (“best regards”).
The Verbs “To Say Hi” in Spanish
There are two ways in Spanish to cover the meaning of “to say hi”: decir hola and saludar.
Decir hola is composed of the verb decir (“say”) and the greeting hola.
Indicative conjugation of decir:
- (yo) digo
- (tú) dices (Note: The people of certain Latin American countries, such as Argentina, use vos instead of tú as the informal singular “you”, for which they would say (vos) decís instead of (tú) dices.)
- (él/ella/usted) dice (Note: Usted is the formal singular “you”.)
- (nosotros) decimos
- (vosotros) decis (Note: Vosotros is the informal plural “you” used in Spain, but not in other Spanish-speaking countries.)
- (ellos/ellas/ustedes) dicen (Note: Ustedes is the formal plural “you” in Spain, but it is used as the plural “you” for any occasion throughout Latin America.)
Decir hola is often used in imperative mode. It’s said in sentences such as: Dile hola a tu amiga de mi parte (“Say hi to your friend from me”) or Digámosle hola al vecino (“Let’s say hi to our neighbor.”)
Imperative conjugation of decir:
- (tú) di (With vos, it’s (vos) decí.)
- (usted) diga
- (nosotros) digamos
- (vosotros) decid
- (ustedes) digan
To complete the phrase, add the appropriate indirect object pronoun:
- dime hola – “Say hi to me”
- dile hola – “Say hi to him/her” → Dile hola a tu hermana (“Say hi to your sister.”)
- dinos hola – “Si hi to us”
- diles hola – “Say hi to them” → Diles hola a tus primos (“Say hi to your cousins.”)
The second verb to say hi in Spanish is saludar:
- (yo) saludo
- (tú) saludas (With vos, it’s (vos) saludás.)
- (él/ella/usted) saluda
- (nosotros) saludamos
- (vosotros) saludáis
- (ellos/ellas/ustedes) saludan
Over to You!
¿Qué tal, amigos?
Now that you know many ways to say hello in Spanish, what greetings will you use? Do you know any other way to say “what’s up” in Spanish? Let me know in the comments!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.