Knowing how to greet someone in a formal or informal way can help you understand the culture and traditions of Spanish-speaking countries.
Greetings in Spanish are very important for communication.
Let’s learn and master Spanish greetings together to make your language-learning journey even better!
Make sure to check out this video from Spring Languages (a platform I’m a co-founder) to learn more about Spanish greetings:
1. Meeting and Greeting Someone New in Spanish
Learning how to greet someone in Spanish and mastering greetings chunks is the first milestone for someone eager to speak this vibrant language.
The most common and straightforward Spanish expression is Hola, which means hello.
This greeting is both formal and informal and applicable in any situation.
The generic term for greetings is Saludos which encompasses all forms of hellos and goodbyes.
If you choose to spice up your greeting depending on the time of the day, you can use:
- Buenos días (good morning in Spanish) – This greeting literally means “good days” and it is considered more formal than hola. Most of the time, people use buenos días until noon both in formal and informal contexts.
- Buenas tardes (good afternoon) or
- Buenas noches (good night in Spanish) – One thing to keep in mind is that buenas noches can serve as both a greeting in Spanish, as well as a way of wishing someone a good night.
2. Guide to Formal and Informal Greetings in Spanish
In the Spanish 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 “tú” and “usted.”
These two words may seem like just slight variations on the same idea, but in fact, they represent a significant difference in the Spanish language:
- Using “tú” is informal, and it’s what you’d say to a friend or someone you’re on familiar terms with. (¿Cómo estás tú? – How are you?)
- “Usted” is the word to use in formal situations or when addressing someone you don’t know well (¿Cómo está usted? – How are You?)
Notice the difference between tú vs. usted and you (lower-case) vs You (upper-case).
tú = informal (friends)
usted = formal (strangers/elders/respect)
Here’s a table guide on when to use formal and informal greetings in Spanish (Remember that you use “usted” for formal:
|Tone||Situation||Examples (English Translations)|
|Formal||Professional settings, strangers, elders|
Buenos días, ¿Cómo se encuentra usted? (Good morning, How are You (formal)?)
|Less Formal||Colleagues, acquaintances, some social settings|
Buenos días, ¿Cómo estás? (Good morning, How are You?)
|Informal||Friends, family, close relationships|
Hola, ¿Cómo estás? (Hello, How are you (informal)?)
|Very Informal||Close friends, family, informal settings|
¡Hola!, ¿Qué pasa? (Hey, What’s up?)
3. General greetings in Spanish
Hola is the most commonly used and simple expression in Spanish to say hello. You can use it to greet friends, family and acquaintances.
¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? ¿Está María en casa? (Hello, how are you? Is Maria at home?)
¡Hola! Todo bien! Sí, María está adentro. (Hello, everything’s ok. Yes, Maria is inside.)
This term is a salutation given to welcome a person to a location, occasion, or community.
¡Bienvenido! Espero que te sientas como en casa. (Welcome! I hope you feel at home.)
¡Gracias! Estoy emocionado de estar aquí. (Thank you! I’m excited to be here.)
Buenos días (Good morning)
The greeting can be used as a formal and an informal greeting, too.
Buenos días, Señorita. ¿Cómo ha estado usted? (Good morning, Miss. How have you been?)
Buenos días, Señor. He estado bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? (Good morning, Sir. I have been well, thank you. And you?)
Buenas tardes (Good afternoon)
People generally switch from Buenos días to Buenas tardes during the day. The transition time might vary depending on which Spanish-speaking country we’re talking of.
Buenas tardes, ¿cómo ha estado usted? (Good afternoon, how have you been?)
Buenas tardes, todo bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? (Good afternoon, all good, thank you. And you?)
Buenas noches (Good evening/night)
It’s a polite phrase and can be used in both formal and informal situations.
Buenas noches, Señor. ¿Todo está en orden para la reunión de mañana? (Good evening, Sir. Is everything in order for tomorrow’s meeting?)
Buenas noches, todo está listo. No se preocupe, todo irá bien. (Good evening, everything is ready. Don’t worry, everything will go smoothly.)
Un placer (My pleasure)
This is a brief method to reply when someone expresses gratitude or flatters you. It can also function similarly to “encantado/a de conocerlo/a/os/as”, translating into “pleased to meet you”.
Mucho gusto en conocerte. (A pleasure to meet you.)
Igualmente, un placer conocerte también. (Likewise, a pleasure to meet you too.)
4. Formal Greetings in Spanish
Hola, ¿cómo está usted? (Hello, how are you?)
To show respect to someone you don’t know well or who is older than you, you can use the formal word ‘usted’.
Hola, ¿cómo está usted? (Hello, how are you?)
Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? (Very well, thank you. And you?)
Encantado/a de conocerle (Pleased to meet you)
This greeting is used when you’re meeting someone for the first time in a formal context.
Buenas tardes, soy Alberto García, el nuevo gerente de proyectos.
(Good afternoon, I am Alberto García, the new project manager.)
Buenas tardes, Sr. García. Soy Isabel Fernández, la directora de marketing. Encantada de conocerle.
(Good afternoon, Mr. García. I am Isabel Fernández, the marketing director. Pleased to meet you.)
Qué gusto de verlo (Pleasure to see you/Nice to see you)
This phrase is often used when you’re meeting with someone you might not see often or didn’t expect to see and want to express pleasure at the encounter.
|Sr. Morales: |
¡Buenas tardes, Sr. Ramírez! ¿Qué gusto de verlo! ¿Cómo ha estado usted?
(Good afternoon, Mr. Ramírez! What a pleasure to see you! How have you been?)
¡Buenas tardes, Sr. Morales! La verdad es que sí, ha sido un tiempo. Estoy bien, gracias por preguntar. ¿Y usted? ¿Cómo van las cosas?
(Good afternoon, Mr. Morales! Indeed, it’s been a while. I’m good, thank you for asking. And you? How are things?)
5. Informal Greetings in Spanish
This casual and friendly greeting is used in an informal situation similar to how it’s used in English.
¡Hey! ¿Vas a la fiesta esta noche? (Hey! Are you going to the party tonight?)
¡Sí, claro! Nos vemos allí. (Yes, of course! See you there.)
Buenas! (Hi, Hey!)
Buenas is an informal greeting and it’s a shortened and usually considered a more casual version of Buenas tardes or Buenas noches.
¡Buenas! ¿Cómo estás? (Hey! How are you?)
Buenas, ¿vamos al cine? (Hi, shall we go to the movies?)
It is used as an informal greeting and more common in Latin American countries rather than Spain.
¡Epa, Sofía! ¿Cómo has estado? (Hey there, Sofía! How have you been?)
¡Hola, Carlos! Bien, gracias. ¿Y tú? ¿Qué has hecho últimamente?
(Hey, Carlos! Good, thanks. And you? What have you been up to lately?)
6. After the Introduction: Informal follow-ups with ¿Cómo estás?
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 lot of Spanish-speaking countries.
You do this by asking
An equally common, less formal yet friendly term to use is
Let’s read and listen to the whole conversation! Look out for greetings in Spanish and what comes immediately after the introduction.
¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Hace tiempo que no nos vemos. ¿Qué tal te ha ido últimamente?
(Hi! How are you? It’s been a while since we last saw each other. How have you been lately?)
¡Hola! Estoy bien, gracias por preguntar. Sí, ha pasado mucho tiempo. Últimamente me ha ido bastante bien, ¿y a ti?
(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?)
Now, let’s see other chunks you could say after greeting someone.
¿Qué tal? (What’s up?)
This is a casual mode of asking about someone’s well-being, similar to the English phrases “What’s up?” or “How’s everything going?” It is suitable for use with close acquaintances or in relaxed environments.
¡Hola! ¿Qué tal? (Hello! How are you?)
¡Hola! Bien, gracias. ¿Y tú? (Hello! I’m fine, thank you. And you?)
¿Cómo te va? (How’s it going?)
This chunk is similar to saying “How are you?” but it can also suggest a curiosity about someone’s actions or arrangements. It could be used with those you know well or in casual situations.
¡Hola! ¿Cómo te va? (Hello! How’s it going?)
Hola, todo bien, gracias. (Hi, everything’s good, thank you.)
¿Qué hay de nuevo? (What’s new?)
This is a casual method to ask about someone’s recent happenings or if they have any updates to share. It is best to use these chunk with those you’re closely related to or in laid-back scenarios.
¡Hola! ¿Qué hay de nuevo? (Hello! What’s new?)
No mucho, pero estoy emocionada por el próximo fin de semana. (Not much, but I’m excited about the upcoming weekend.)
7. Country-specific Greetings and Chunks
Greetings can change greatly across cultures, and the Spanish-speaking world is no exception.
In many aspects, Spanish welcome phrases differ significantly depending on the context, falling into either formal or informal categories.
Colombia: ¿Qué más? (What else?)
In Colombia, particularly amongst the youngsters, there’s a popular and casual salutation used to ask about a person’s well-being or recent activities.
If you don’t have much to say, you can use this expression as a reply.
¡Hola! ¿Qué más? (Hi! What’s up?)
Nada, aquí relajándome en casa. (Nothing, just relaxing at home.)
Venezuela: ¡Épale! (Hey!)
This is a common informal salutation in Venezuela, used to attract someone’s focus or to convey shock or enthusiasm. This can be succeeded by ¿qué más? or ¿qué tal? to start a chat.
Épale! (Hello there!)
Nada mucho, ¿y tú? (Nothing much, what’s up?)
Chile: Ke talka (What’s up?)
This is a casual way of saying hello in Chile.
You can use it to ask your friends or acquaintances about what they’ve been up to or what they have planned for the future.
Responses can include:
- todo bien (all is well)
- nada nuevo (nothing new)
- aquí nomás (just here)
¡Hola, Kevin! ¿Ke talka? (Hello, Kevin! What’s up?)
Nada, ¿y tú? ¿Cómo te ha ido? (Nothing, and you? How have you been?)
Mexico: ¿Qué onda? (What’s up?)
In Mexico, this casual and widespread salutation is used to inquire about someone’s well-being or activities. It’s best to use with close acquaintances or in informal situations.
You can answer with:
- todo bien (all is well)
- nada (nothing)
- pues aquí (well, here)
¡Qué onda, compa! ¿Cómo estás? (What’s up, buddy! How are you?)
¡Hola, todo bien! ¿Y tú, qué onda? (Hey, all good! And you, what’s up?)
Argentina: ¿Qué hacés boludo? (What are you doing, dude?)
There’s a common, casual salutation in Argentina intended for someone you’re comfortable or really close with.
While boludo can be understood negatively in other usages – in some cases, it can even be an insult -, here it is used affectionately or in a friendly manner.
Reply options include:
- nada (nothing)
- trabajando (working)
- estudiando (studying)
¡Hola, Juan! ¿Qué hacés boludo? (Hello, Juan! What are you doing, dude?)
¡Hola, Pedro! Nada, aquí relajándome. (Hello, Pedro! Nothing, just relaxing here.)
8. Learn Spanish Cultural Gestures and Greetings Etiquette
Cultural gestures and etiquette can vary greatly around the world, and Spanish culture is no exception. Spanish cultural greetings often go beyond simple verbal exchanges.
Predominantly, they include non-verbal greetings such as:
- besos (kisses)
- abrazos (hugs) and
- apretón de manos (handshakes).
All of these non-verbal greetings add a personal touch to their interactions.
When you meet friends or family in a casual setting, it’s common to give a kiss on each cheek or a hug if you’re close.
BUT in professional situations (with colleagues or clients), it’s best to give a firm handshake with eye contact and a smile.
After you get to know people better, you might switch to a warmer, friendlier hug.
This is usually considered a gesture of warmth and a sign of mutual trust.
If you want to learn more about besos and abrazos and other etiquettes when greeting people, check out this video:
9. How to Say Farewell in Spanish
Saying farewell can be difficult, but knowing how to express it in Spanish can make it a little bit easier. 🙂
There are several ways to say farewell depending on the level of formality and the situation:
- adiós (goodbye) – the most common and straightforward way to say goodbye in Spanish.
- hasta luego (see you later) OR hasta pronto (see you soon) – although these chunks literally translate to see you later and see you soon, you can use them anytime when you’re saying goodbye to someone.
- chao – if you want to keep it casual and informal. It’s also the Spanish version of the Italian ‘Ciao’.
10. Practice section – Translate the greetings into Spanish
I. Translate the following greetings into Spanish:
If you want to practice more, make sure to check out our Full Practice Worksheets! Click the button below to gain access!
11. Different Ways to Spanish Greeting with the Help of Conversation Based Chunking
Spanish 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 chunks in conversations and they can gradually build their vocabulary.
Our CBC Starter Pack also provides a practical and interactive approach to language learning, allowing learners to apply what they have learned in real-life situations.
Sign up now to learn more about this revolutionary approach!