Hello in Spanish: 28 Ways to Use it in Formal & Informal Contexts + Audio Examples

In every social situation that we experience, the very first thing that we need to do is greeting. Using an appropriate greeting according to our interlocutor, the time of day, and the formality or informality of the occasion is very important in order to show respect and make a good first impression.

Can’t get enough of these alternatives for hello in Spanish? Here’s 28 you can later find in the article to learn more about them!

SpanishEnglish
¡Hola!Hello
Buenos díasGood morning
Buen día (LatAm)Good morning/Good day (LatAm)
Buenas tardesGood afternoon
Buenas nochesGood evening/Good night
¿Qué tal?What’s up?
¿Qué pasa? (Spain)What’s up? (Spain)
¿Qué onda?What’s up?
¿Qué pex?What’s up?
¿Quiúbole? (Mexico)What’s up? (Mexico)
Quihubo (Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador)What’s up? (Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador)
Háblame (Venezuela)Talk to me (Venezuela)
¿Qué hubo?What’s up?
¿Qué más?What’s up?
¿Qué hacés? (Argentina)What’s up? (Argentina)
¿Qué contás? (Argentina)What’s up? (Argentina)
¿Cómo va?How’s it going?
¡Ey!Hey!
¿Cómo estás?How are you?
¿Cómo te va?How’s it going?
¿Cómo andas?How’s it going?
Encantado/a de conocerlo/laNice to meet you
Mucho gustoPleased to meet you
El gusto es míoThe pleasure is mine
IgualmenteLikewise
¡Buenas!Hi (informal)
Háblame (Venezuela)Talk to me (Venezuela)
¿Cómo se encuentra (usted)?How are you? (formal)

Check out this Spring Spanish video (a language learning platform I co-founded) where teacher María Fernanda shows you how people say hello from Mexico: 

Today you will learn how to say hello in different situations:

  • when we first meet someone
  • when we haven’t seen someone for a long time
  • when meeting friends and acquaintances
  • and in formal contexts such as a business meeting.

1. The 4 Most Common Ways to Say Hello in Spanish

Luckily, there are ways to say hello in Spanish in every social situation. Keeping these lifesaving expressions at hand will help you when you’re not sure how to greet.

Say Hello in Spanish: ¡hola!

This is the most usual way to say hello. You can use it to address anyone in both formal and informal contexts in all Spanish-speaking regions at any time of the day.

When saying hola, just keep in mind that the consonant h is silent in Spanish.

Check out these examples:

SpanishEnglish
Hola, Ramiro. ¡Tanto tiempo!
Hello Ramiro. It’s been a while!
Hola. Tengo una cita con el Dr. Oertlin.
Hello. I have an appointment with Dr. Oertlin.

    Buenos días / Buen día (LatAm) – (Good morning)

    “Buenos días” is used as a morning greeting until around midday (approximately until 1 p.m.), meaning “Good morning” in English.

    On the other hand, “Buen día” is a more general greeting used throughout the day but mainly in the morning, particularly in Latin American Spanish, and translates to “Good morning” and “Good day” in English.

    It’s important to consider cultural and regional variations in greetings.

    Look at the examples:

    SpanishEnglish
    Buenos días. ¿Qué tal todo?
    Good morning. How’s it all going?
    Buen día. ¿Se encuentra el doctor?
    Good morning. Is the doctor in?

    Buenas tardes (Good afternoon)

    Typically, Buenas tardes is used from around midday (approximately 12 p.m. or 1 p.m., depending on the region) until the evening, before it becomes dark.

    It’s a polite and common way to greet someone during the afternoon hours.

    Use these greetings in context:

    SpanishEnglish
    Buenas tardes. ¡Qué lindo verte!
    Good afternoon. Good to see you!
    Buenas tardes, doctor.
    Good afternoon, doctor.

    Buenas noches (Good evening / Good night)

    People use “Buenas noches” as a greeting in the evening and at night. It can be translated as either “Good evening” or “Good night” in English, depending on the context. The specific usage of “Buenas noches” can vary depending on cultural and regional factors. Generally, it is used when greeting someone as the day transitions from late afternoon to night-time, and it continues to be used throughout the night.

    It is a polite way to greet someone during the evening hours and to bid them farewell before going to bed.

    For example:

    SpanishEnglish
    Buenas noches a todos.
    Good night, everyone.

    Lifesaving Greetings and Expressions in Spanish

    These are great lifesaving emergency expressions to use in formal and informal contexts in all Spanish-speaking countries.

    Saying Hello in Spanish or Buenos Días is a lifesaving expression on a greeting arrow
    Saying buenos días can be lifesaving in formal and informal situations

    Depending on the time it is you can say:

    • Buenos días (Good morning): This expression is used during the morning until noon. Yet sometimes the boundaries are not so clear and in different countries it might be heard until 1, 2, or even 3 p.m. In Latin America (but not in Spain) it is also very common to hear the singular version Buen día. This shortened version of the phrase is used more frequently in casual or informal situations, such as when addressing friends, family, or acquaintances. The regional differences in saying “buenos dias” and “buen dia” reflect the cultural diversity of Latin America. In some countries, people value formality and respect in their interactions with others, while in others, they prioritize friendliness and informality. More ways to say good morning in Spanish here.
    • Buenas tardes (Good afternoon): This expression is used until the sun goes down. Once it is dark, we switch to Buenas noches.
    • Buenas noches (Good evening / Good night): Spanish lacks a term to refer to the evening, so Buenas noches is used from the evening until we go to bed.

    We can use all of these expressions when we arrive at a place as well as when we leave.

    2. Say Hello in Informal Contexts

    There are lots of ways of saying hello in informal occasions. As we have seen hola is the standard, but depending on the region and the age of the speakers the options multiply.

    Saying hello in Spanish in informal occasions

    SpanishEnglishExplanation
    Hola
    ¡Buenas!
    Hello
    Hi
    Address people in all contexts at any time.
    ¿Qué tal?
    ¿Qué pasa?
    (Spain)

    ¿Qué onda?
    ¿Qué pex?
    ¿Quiúbole? (Mexico)

    Quihubo (Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador)

    Háblame. (Venezuela)
    ¿Qué hubo?
    ¿Qué más?


    ¿Qué hacés?
    ¿Qué contás? (Argentina)
    ¿Cómo va?
    What’s up?
    Colloquial.
    ¿Qué tal? is the most general and you can use it in anywhere.
    ¡Ey!Hey!Used to express surprise or to get someone’s attention.
    ¿Cómo estás?
    ¿Cómo te va?
    ¿Cómo andas?
    How are you?Common in all countries

    3. How to Greet Someone in Formal Situations

    A formal situation is one in which we need to address someone higher in hierarchy, an older person, or a person that we’re meeting for the first time. The ways to say hello in any of these cases include the use of the formal pronoun usted (formal you), instead of the informal  or vos (Rioplatense Spanish).

    Also, we will avoid certain colloquial expressions in favor of others that are more appropriate. So, for example, we will prefer “Buenos días”, “Buenas tardes”, or “Buenas noches” to “Hola”.

    And when asking how our interlocutor is, we will need to use the correct conjugation of the verb to agree with the person “usted”.

    For example:

    • Buenos días, Sr. Enrique. ¿Cómo está (usted) hoy?” – (Good morning, Mr. Enrique. How are you today?)
    • Buenas noches, Doña Elvira. ¿Cómo anda (usted)?” – (Good evening, Mrs. Elvira. How are you?)

    Use these Spanish expressions in formal situations

    SpanishExplanationExample
    Buenos díasUsed formally to address superiors or new acquaintances.“Buenos días, Sr. Enrique. ¿Cómo está (usted) hoy?” (Good morning, Mr. Enrique. How are you today?)
    Buenas tardesUsed formally to address superiors or when you meet someone new.“Buenas tardes, Sra. González. ¿Cómo se encuentra (usted)?”
    (Good afternoon, Mrs. González. How are you?)
    Buenas nochesUsed in formal situations to address someone higher in hierarchy.“Buenas noches, Doña Elvira. ¿Cómo anda (usted)?”
    (Good evening, Mrs. Elvira. How are you?)
    ¿Cómo está (usted)?Formal“Buenos días, Señor García. ¿Cómo está (usted) hoy?” (Good morning, Mr. García. How are you today?)
    ¿Cómo se encuentra (usted)?Formal“Buenas tardes, Dr. Gutiérrez. ¿Cómo se encuentra (usted) hoy?” (Good afternoon, Dr. Gutiérrez. How are you today?)

    4. How to Introduce Yourself When Meeting Someone

    When being introduced to a new person, we can say:

    • Encantado/a de conocerlo/la. – (Nice to meet you.)
    • Mucho gusto. – (Pleased to meet you.)

    The other person will most probably reply:

    • El gusto es mío. – (The pleasure is mine.)
    • Igualmente. – (Likewise.)

    5. Boost Your Spanish Fluency with Conversation-Based Chunking!

    Like in most languages, there are many ways to say hello in Spanish. Start with a simple hola, then learn to add in more nuance and awareness about levels of formality as you improve your Spanish.

    Make sure to also get your free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack, where I show you a 4-step method to learn Spanish without having to memorize word lists and grammar rules. It comes with tutorial videos for  Conversation Based Chunking ™, resource lists to get you started, and much more. Conversation Based Chunking™ is currently being used by hundreds of thousands of students across the world with great results.

    If you want to get fluent in Spanish, I recommend you check out the free starter pack and start implementing the methodology in your studies 🙂

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