Learn German Greetings: 21 Ways to Greet Someone in German (Real-life Examples)

Mastering the art of saying hello (Hallo!) in both a formal and casual manner is key to unlocking the secrets of German-speaking cultures and traditions. In other words, don’t underestimate the power of German greetings when it comes to communication.

Make sure to check out this video from Spring German (a platform I’m a co-founder) to learn more about German greetings:

Come on, let’s learn German greetings together and take your language skills to the next level! Let’s make this language-learning adventure even more epic!

Effortless Answers

The most common German greeting is “Hallo“. Depending on the time of the day, you could use:
Guten Morgen (good morning in German)
Guten Tag (good afternoon in German)
Guten Abend (good evening)

1. Meeting and Greeting Someone New in German

Learning the art of the German greeting is like unlocking the first level in the game of speaking this gorgeous language. It’s the key to opening up a whole new world of communication and cultural understanding. So, don’t just learn it, own it!

The most common and straightforward German expression is “Hallo“, which means “hello”. This greeting is both formal and informal and applicable in any situation. If you choose to spice up your greeting depending on the time of the day, you can use:

  • Guten Morgen” (good morning in German) – This greeting is considered more formal than “hallo“. Generally, people use “Guten Morgen” until late morning in both formal and informal contexts.
  • Guten Tag” (good day) or
  • Guten Abend” (good evening in German).

2. Guide to Formal and Informal German Greetings

In the German language, the approach to greetings is different based on how formal a situation is.

One of the most important things to master is the distinction between “du” and “Sie“. These two pronouns may seem like just slight variations on the same idea, but in fact, they represent a huge difference in the German language:

  • Using “du” is informal, and it’s what you’d say to a friend, close acquaintance or someone you’re on familiar terms with. (“Wie geht es dir?” – “How are you?”)
  • Sie” is the pronoun to use in formal situations or when addressing someone you don’t know well (“Wie geht es Ihnen?” – “How are You?”)

Let’s explain it with a little bit of math! Look at the difference between “du” vs. “Sie” and you (lower-case) vs You (upper-case).

du = informal (friends) Sie = formal (strangers/elders/respect)

And, if this wasn’t already enough, Effortless Conversations is here to guide you on when to use formal and informal greetings in German. Remember that you use “Sie” for formal.

Formality guide table

ToneSituationExamples (English Translations)
FormalProfessional settings, strangers, eldersGuten Morgen, wie geht es Ihnen? (Good morning, How are You (formal)?)
Less FormalColleagues, acquaintances, some social settingsGuten Tag, wie geht es dir? (Good day, How are you?)
InformalFriends, family, close relationshipsHallo, wie geht es dir? (Hello, How are you (informal)?)
Very InformalClose friends, family, informal settingsHi, was geht? (Hi, What’s up?)

Most of the German greetings and many other common German phrases are lexical chunks. Don’t know what chunks are? Sign up now to our German Conversation Based Chunking Guide and learn more about them + access our Practice Worksheet Library full of practice exercises!

3. Anytime Greetings in German

Hallo (Hello)

As already mentioned, the greeting “Hallo!” in German is a versatile, all-purpose salutation that can be used at any time of the day. It is informal and suitable for greeting friends, family, colleagues you are familiar with, and sometimes even new acquaintances in a casual setting. It is equivalent to “hello” in English and is probably one of the most commonly used greetings in the German language.

Jake: Hallo! Wie geht’s dir heute? (Hello! How are you today?)
Stefan: Hallo! Mir geht’s gut, danke. Und dir? (Hello! I’m doing well, thank you. And you?)
Jake: Auch gut, danke. Hast du heute Abend schon Pläne? (Also good, thank you. Do you have any plans for this evening?)
Stefan: Noch nicht. Hast du eine Idee? (Not yet. Do you have a suggestion?)
Jake: Wie wäre es mit einem Filmabend? (How about a movie night?)
Stefan: Klasse Idee! Ich bringe Popcorn mit. (Great idea! I’ll bring some popcorn.)

Hi (Hi)

In German, “Hi!” is an informal greeting very similar to its usage in English.

It’s typically used among younger people, close friends, colleagues of similar age or status, or in relaxed social environments. It’s more casual than “Hallo“.

Novak: Hi! Lange nicht gesehen! Wie läuft’s? (Hi! Long time no see! How’s it going?)
Paula: Hi! Stimmt, es ist eine Weile her. Mir geht’s gut, danke! Und selbst? (Hi! True, it’s been a while. I’m good, thanks! How about you?)
Novak: Auch gut, bin gerade auf dem Weg zum Sport. Machst du heute noch was? (Also good, just on my way to do some sports. Are you doing anything later today?)
Paula: Noch nichts Konkretes. Vielleicht ein bisschen chillen. (Nothing specific. Maybe just chill a bit.)
Novak: Cool, vielleicht treffen wir uns dann später im Park zum Relaxen? (Cool, maybe we’ll meet up later in the park to relax?)
Paula: Gute Idee! Schick mir einfach eine Nachricht. (Good idea! Just shoot me a message.)

Grüß dich! (I greet you!)

Grüß dich!” is an informal, friendly greeting used primarily in Southern Germany and Austria. This greeting is less common in the northern parts of Germany, where “Hallo!” or “Moin!” might be more typical.

More on this later!

Markus: Grüß dich, Anna! Wie war dein Wochenende? (I greet you, Anna! How was your weekend?)
Anna: Grüß dich, Markus! Es war super, danke. Ich war wandern. Und deins? (I greet you, Markus! It was great, thanks. I went hiking. And yours?)
Markus: Auch nicht schlecht. Ich habe viel Zeit im Garten verbracht. Brauchst du Hilfe beim Tragen deiner Einkäufe? (Also not bad. I spent a lot of time in the garden. Do you need help carrying your groceries?)
Anna: Das wäre fantastisch, vielen Dank! Lass uns danach auf einen Kaffee gehen. (That would be fantastic, thank you! Let’s have a coffee afterward.)
Markus: Klingt gut! Ich kenne ein nettes Café um die Ecke. (Sounds good! I know a nice cafe around the corner.)

Servus! (Hello!)

Servus!” is an informal, colloquial greeting used in parts of Southern Germany, Austria, and other regions of Central Europe like Bavaria. It can mean both “hello” and “goodbye” and is generally used among friends, family, or peers in casual settings.

Lukas: Servus, Julia! Schön dich zu sehen. (Hello, Julia! Nice to see you.)
Julia: Servus, Lukas! Ja, es ist wirklich eine Ewigkeit her. Wie geht’s dir? (Hello, Lukas! Yes, it’s really been ages. How are you?)
Lukas: Alles bestens bei mir. Ich habe einen neuen Job angefangen. Und bei dir? (All’s well with me. I’ve started a new job. And you?)
Julia: Glückwunsch! Ich bin immer noch im Studium, aber bald fertig. (Congratulations! I’m still studying, but I’m almost done.)
Lukas: Das hört sich gut an. Lass uns demnächst mal wieder treffen. (That sounds good. Let’s meet up again soon.)
Julia: Ja, lass uns das tun. Melde dich einfach, wenn du Zeit hast. (Yes, let’s do that. Just get in touch when you have time.)

Moin! (Hello!)

Moin” is a common informal greeting in Northern Germany, especially in regions like Hamburg and Lower Saxony. Although it might seem like a morning greeting due to its similarity to “Morgen” (morning), “Moin” is actually short for “Moin Moin” and can be used at any time of the day.

Finn: Moin, Emma! Wie läuft’s? (Hi, Emma! How’s it going?)
Emma: Moin, Finn! Alles klar, und selbst? (Hi, Finn! All good, and yourself?)
Finn: Kann nicht klagen. Bist du später beim Fußballspiel dabei? (Can’t complain. Are you joining the soccer game later?)
Emma: Klar, würde ich nicht verpassen. Treffen wir uns vorher? (Sure, wouldn’t miss it. Shall we meet up beforehand?)
Finn: Gute Idee. Ich schlage um 6 am Platz vor. (Good idea. I suggest 6 at the field.)
Emma: Perfekt, bis dann! (Perfect, see you then!)

Tag! (Day!)

Tag!” is a shortened form of “Guten Tag!” and is a casual, informal greeting in German. It can be translated simply as “Day!” and is equivalent to saying “Hi!” or “Hey!” during the daytime.

Simon: Tag, Lena! Wie steht’s? (Hi, Lena! How’s it going?)
Lena: Tag, Simon! Nicht schlecht, danke. Ich habe viel zu tun bei der Arbeit. Und du? (Hi, Simon! Not bad, thanks. I have a lot to do at work. And you?)
Simon: Ähnlich hier. Projekte über Projekte. Aber sag mal, hast du Lust auf eine Kaffeepause?
(Same here. Projects over projects. But tell me, are you up for a coffee break?)
Lena: Klingt gut. Treffen wir uns in 15 Minuten an der üblichen Stelle? (Sounds good. Shall we meet in 15 minutes at the usual spot?)
Simon: Perfekt. Dann bis gleich. (Perfect. See you in a bit.)

4. Formal Greetings in German

formal german greetings in a conference room

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren! (Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!)

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren!” is a very formal greeting in German used mainly in written communication, such as letters or emails, and also in formal speeches when addressing a group of people whose names you do not know.

Since it is a formal written or speech greeting, it would not typically be used in a casual conversation. However, here’s an example of how it might be used in a speech or formal announcement:

Dr. Weber: Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, ich begrüße Sie herzlich zu unserer heutigen Konferenz zum Thema nachhaltige Energie. (Dear ladies and gentlemen, I warmly welcome you to our conference today on the topic of sustainable energy.)
Dr. Weber: Wir freuen uns, Experten aus der ganzen Welt hier zu haben, die ihre Einsichten und Forschungsergebnisse mit uns teilen werden. Lassen Sie uns gemeinsam Lösungen für eine grünere Zukunft erarbeiten. Vielen Dank. (We are pleased to have experts from all over the world here who will share their insights and research findings with us. Let us work together to find solutions for a greener future. Thank you.)

Frau/Herr [Last Name] (Ms/Mrs or Mr.)

The formal address “Frau [Last Name]” for women, equivalent to “Ms.” or “Mrs.,” and “Herr [Last Name]” for men, equivalent to “Mr.,” is used in German in both written and spoken communication when you are addressing someone respectfully, often in professional or official contexts.

Here’s an example of how such a greeting might be used in a professional meeting:

Herr Schmidt: Guten Tag, Frau Müller. Es freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen. (Good day, Ms. Müller. It’s a pleasure to meet you.)
Frau Müller: Guten Tag, Herr Schmidt. Ich habe schon viel über Ihre Arbeit gehört. (Good day, Mr. Schmidt. I’ve heard a lot about your work.)
Herr Schmidt: Danke, das ist sehr nett. Ich bin gespannt auf unsere Zusammenarbeit. (Thank you, that’s very kind. I’m looking forward to our collaboration.)
Frau Müller: Wie ich auch. Lassen Sie uns mit den Details unseres Projekts beginnen. (So am I. Let’s start with the details of our project.)

Wie geht es Ihnen? (How are You doing?)

Wie geht es Ihnen?” is a formal way to ask someone “How are you doing?” in German. This phrase is used when addressing someone with the formal “Sie” rather than the informal “du.”

Here’s a short example of a conversation including “Wie geht es Ihnen?“:

Herr Becker: Guten Morgen, Frau Richter. Wie geht es Ihnen? (Good morning, Ms. Richter. How are you doing?)
Frau Richter: Guten Morgen, Herr Becker. Mir geht es gut, danke. Und Ihnen? (Good morning, Mr. Becker. I’m well, thank you. And you?)
Herr Becker: Danke, mir geht es auch gut. Sind Sie bereit für die heutige Präsentation? (Thank you, I am also well. Are you ready for today’s presentation?)
Frau Richter: Ja, alles ist vorbereitet. Ich freue mich darauf, unserem Team die neuen Ideen vorzustellen. (Yes, everything is prepared. I’m looking forward to presenting the new ideas to our team.)

5. Informal Greetings in German

Tach! (Day!)

Tach!” is an informal, colloquial way to say “hello” in some parts of Germany, especially in regions such as the Rhineland. It’s derived from “Guten Tag” and is used similarly to “Tag!” in that it can be utilized at any time of the day, even though it might sound like a daytime greeting.

Here’s a short example of a conversation including “Tach!“:

Jan: Tach, Marco! Alles fit? (Hi, Marco! Everything good?)
Marco: Tach, Jan! Ja, alles bestens. Du? (Hi, Jan! Yes, all’s great. You?)
Jan: Auch prima. Gehst du später zum Fußballspiel? (Also great. Are you going to the soccer match later?)
Marco: Klar, das lasse ich mir nicht entgehen. Treffen wir uns vor dem Spiel? (Sure, I wouldn’t miss it. Shall we meet up before the game?)
Jan: Gute Idee. Ich schlage vor, wir treffen uns um halb drei am Eingang. (Good idea. I suggest we meet at half past two at the entrance.)
Marco: Perfekt, bis dann! (Perfect, see you then!)

Hey! (Hey!)

Hey!” in German functions similarly to its English counterpart and is a very informal and casual greeting. It’s often used among young people, close friends, or acquaintances in laid-back, everyday situations.

Max: Hey, Sophie! Lange nicht gesehen. Wie geht’s? (Hey, Sophie! Long time no see. How’s it going?)
Sophie: Hey, Max! Ja, es ist wirklich eine Weile her. Danke, mir geht’s gut – und dir? (Hey, Max! Yeah, it’s really been a while. Thanks, I’m good – how about you?)
Max: Auch gut, danke. Ich habe gehört, du hast jetzt einen neuen Job? (Also good, thanks. I heard you got a new job?)
Sophie: Ja, ich habe vor einem Monat angefangen. Es ist aufregend, aber auch ein bisschen stressig. (Yes, I started a month ago. It’s exciting but also a bit stressful.)
Max: Das kann ich mir vorstellen. Lass uns bald mal nach der Arbeit treffen und alles genau besprechen. (I can imagine that. Let’s meet up after work sometime soon to talk about it in detail.)
Sophie: Das klingt super. Ich melde mich bei dir für ein Treffen nächste Woche. (That sounds great. I’ll get in touch with you for a meetup next week.)

6. Greetings when on the phone

german greetings on the phone

Hallo, [Your Name] am Apparat. (Hello, … is by the phone.)

Hallo, [Your Name] am Apparat.” is a formal way of identifying yourself on the phone in German. This phrase is typically used in professional phone calls or when you’re not sure who is calling. It’s a polite way to start a phone conversation by letting the caller know who they’re speaking with.

Klaus is receiving a call at work.

Klaus: Hallo, Klaus Müller am Apparat. (Hello, Klaus Müller speaking.)
Caller: Guten Tag, Herr Müller. Hier spricht Sabine Weber von der Firma XYZ. Ich rufe an wegen des geplanten Meetings nächste Woche. (Good day, Mr. Müller. This is Sabine Weber from XYZ Company. I am calling about the planned meeting next week.)
Klaus: Ach ja, Frau Weber. Schön, von Ihnen zu hören. Was kann ich für Sie tun? (Oh, Ms. Weber. Nice to hear from you. What can I do for you?)
Sabine Weber: Ich wollte nur die Uhrzeit bestätigen und fragen, ob es noch spezielle Themen gibt, die wir vorbereiten sollen. (I just wanted to confirm the time and ask if there are any specific topics we should prepare.)
Klaus: Ja, das Meeting ist um 10 Uhr vormittags. Ich werde Ihnen eine Liste der Themen per E-Mail zukommen lassen. (Yes, the meeting is at 10 AM. I will send you a list of topics by email.)
Sabine Weber: Perfekt, vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe, Herr Müller. (Perfect, thank you very much for your help, Mr. Müller.)
Klaus: Gerne, Frau Weber. Bis nächste Woche dann. Auf Wiederhören. (You’re welcome, Ms. Weber. Until next week, then. Goodbye.)

Ja, bitte? (Yes, please?)

Ja, bitte?” is a polite and formal way to answer the phone in German when you are ready to listen or assist the caller. It can be used both in personal and professional contexts but tends to be more formal.

The phone rings in an office, and Frau Schmidt answers.

Frau Schmidt: Ja, bitte? (Yes, please?)
Caller: Guten Tag, mein Name ist Herr Fischer. Ich würde gerne mit Herrn Wagner sprechen. (Good day, my name is Mr. Fischer. I would like to speak with Mr. Wagner.)
Frau Schmidt: Einen Moment bitte, ich verbinde Sie. Darf ich fragen, worum es geht? (One moment, please, I’ll connect you. May I ask what it is regarding?)
Herr Fischer: Es geht um das Angebot, das wir letzte Woche besprochen haben. (It’s about the proposal we discussed last week.)
Frau Schmidt: Verstehe. Ich leite Sie sofort weiter. Vielen Dank für Ihren Anruf, Herr Fischer. (I understand. I will put you through right away. Thank you for your call, Mr. Fischer.)

7. After the Introduction

Wie geht es dir? (How are you?)

After the initial greeting, you might want to check on the person’s well-being.

Asking about how someone is doing is seen as a way to show interest and it is actually a part of the social norm in a lot of German-speaking countries.

You do this by asking “Wie geht es dir?” which translates to “How are you?” or “Wie läuft’s?” which is more casual, similar to “What’s up?”

Alex: Hallo! Wie geht es dir? Wir haben uns schon lange nicht mehr gesehen. Wie ist es dir in letzter Zeit ergangen? (Hi! How are you? It’s been a while since we last saw each other. How have you been lately?)
Miguel: Hallo! Mir geht es gut, danke der Nachfrage. Ja, es ist viel Zeit vergangen. In letzter Zeit läuft es ziemlich gut für mich, und dir? (Hi! I’m doing well, thank you for asking. Yes, it’s been a long time. Lately, things have been going pretty well for me, and you?)

Wie läuft’s? or Was gibt’s Neues? (How’s it going or What’s new?)

Another example:

Wie läuft’s? (How’s it going?) or Was gibt’s Neues? (What’s new?) can be used similarly to “How’s it going?” and “What’s new?” in English.

Felix: Hallo! Wie läuft’s? (Hello! How’s it going?)
Ronald: Hallo, alles in Ordnung, danke. (Hi, everything’s good, thank you.)

Freut mich, dich/Sie kennenzulernen (Please to meet you/You)

Freut mich, dich kennenzulernen” (informal) and “Freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen” (formal) are phrases used in German when you meet someone for the first time.

Here’s an example conversation for each context:

Informal setting

Lars: Hallo, ich bin Lars. (Hello, I’m Lars.)
Nina: Hi, ich bin Nina. Freut mich, dich kennenzulernen. (Hi, I’m Nina. Pleased to meet you.)
Lars: Freut mich auch, Nina. Was studierst du? (Pleased to meet you too, Nina. What are you studying?)

Formal setting

Herr Klein: Guten Tag, ich bin Herr Klein, der neue Projektmanager. (Good day, I am Mr. Klein, the new project manager.)
Frau Berger: Guten Tag, Herr Klein. Ich bin Frau Berger, die Assistentin der Geschäftsführung. Freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen. (Good day, Mr. Klein. I am Mrs. Berger, the executive assistant. Pleased to meet you.)
Herr Klein: Gleichfalls, Frau Berger. Ich freue mich auf die Zusammenarbeit mit Ihnen. (Likewise, Mrs. Berger. I am looking forward to working with you.)

8. Country-Specific Greetings and Phrases

Greetings can change greatly across cultures, and the German-speaking world is no exception.

In Austria: Grüß Gott!

In Austria and parts of Southern Germany, “Grüß Gott!” is a common greeting that is used to say “hello.” It’s a formal and polite expression that can be used at any time of the day. While it literally means “Greet God,” it’s a traditional way of saying hello and not necessarily a religious statement.

In a coffee shop in Vienna:

Server: Grüß Gott! Was darf ich Ihnen bringen? (Hello! What can I get for you?)
Customer: Grüß Gott! Ich hätte gerne einen Wiener Melange und ein Stück Sachertorte, bitte. (Hello! I would like a Viennese Melange and a slice of Sachertorte, please.)
Server: Sehr gerne. Nehmen Sie im Café drinnen Platz oder sitzen Sie lieber draußen? (Certainly. Would you like to sit inside the cafe or prefer outside?)
Customer: Ich setze mich draußen hin. Danke! (I’ll sit outside. Thank you!)

In Switzerland: Grüezi

In Switzerland, particularly in the German-speaking part, “Grüezi” is the equivalent of “hello.” It is a formal greeting that can also be used throughout the day. If you are addressing more than one person, you would say “Grüezi miteinander.

On a street in Zurich:

Passerby: Grüezi, können Sie mir bitte sagen, wie ich zum Bahnhof komme? (Hello, can you please tell me how to get to the train station?)
Local: Grüezi, natürlich. Gehen Sie geradeaus bis zur nächsten Ampel, dann biegen Sie links ab. Sie sehen den Bahnhof dann direkt vor Ihnen. (Hello, of course. Go straight until the next traffic light, then turn left. You will see the train station directly in front of you.)
Passerby: Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe! (Thank you very much for your help!)
Local: Gern geschehen. Einen schönen Tag noch! (You’re welcome. Have a nice day!)

9. Learn German Cultural Gestures and Greetings Etiquette

Cultural gestures and etiquette can vary greatly around the world, and German culture is no exception. German cultural greetings often go beyond simple verbal exchanges and may include a handshake for both men and women upon greeting.

In more casual settings with friends and family, greetings might also include hugs or light kisses on the cheek, though this is less common than in some other European cultures.

10. How to Say Farewell in German

Saying farewell can also vary with formality:

  • Auf Wiedersehen” (goodbye) – a formal way to say goodbye.
  • Tschüss” (bye) – a casual way to say goodbye.
  • Bis später” (see you later) or “Bis bald” (see you soon) – these can be used anytime when you’re saying goodbye to someone.

This is how you would use it when you say goodby to your group of friends:

Klaus: Auf Wiedersehen! (Goodbye!)
Helena: Tschüss! (Bye!)
Hans: Bis später! (See you later!)
Lena: Bis bald! (See you soon!)

11. Practice Worksheet – Learn German greetings with our Practice Worksheet Library

Complete the following sentences with the correct German greeting based on the English equivalent provided in brackets.

This is only one of our many exercises which you can access by clicking the button below! Sign up to get our Full Practice Worksheets!

12. Different Ways to Greet in German with the Help of Conversation Based Chunking

German greetings can be expressed in different ways, making it easier to learn and remember them.

With the help of Conversation Based Chunking, learners can practice these phrases in conversations and gradually build their vocabulary.

Look for German CBC Starter Packs to provide a practical and interactive approach to language learning, allowing learners to apply what they have learned in real-life situations.

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