Spanish Basic Greetings


You never get a second chance at a first impression! Part of making a good first impression is understanding when to use formal greetings versus informal greetings.

Read on to find out some answers to the common questions "How do I greet someone in Spanish?" and "What's the difference between formal and informal Spanish greetings?"

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In English you are probably used to addressing people based on who they are and where you find yourselves. We use not only different words, but also different mannerisms when greeting people. For example, when walking into a business meeting you may say something like, “Hello ma’am, how are you today?” and shake her hand. Versus when walking into a room full of your friends at a super bowl party and you say, “What’s up, everyone?” and hug everyone you see.

Just like in English, we adjust our greetings based on who we are talking to and where we are when speaking in Spanish too!

Here are a few common formal and informal situational phrases that are used in Spanish. **Note: In more formal situations a handshake is appropriate, but you will find a kiss on one or both cheeks to be commonplace for informal situations!

Phrases for ANY situation, both formal or informal:

¡Buenos días!Good morning!
¡Buenas tardes!Good afternoon!
¡Buenas noches!Good evening! orGood night!
¿Cómo están ustedes?How are you all?
¡Nos vemos!See you!
¡Hasta luego!See you later!
¡Hasta pronto!See you soon!

Phrases SPECIFIC to formal or informal situations:

Formal SituationsInformal Situations
¿Cómo está usted? – How are you?¿Cómo estás?– How are you?
Encantado(a). – Nice to meet you.¿Qué tal? – How are things?
Mucho gusto. – Nice to meet you.¿Qué onda? – What’s up?
Que tenga un buen día. – Have a good day.Que tengas un buen día. – Have a good day.
Que tenga un buen fin de semana. – Have a good weekend.Que tengas un buen fin de semana. – Have a good day.

Did you notice the differences between some formal and informal phrases? Some of them are only one letter or word different.

If you’re looking to understand Spanish verb conjugations better, consider visiting our pages on the verb estar and the verb tener

If you’re looking to understand Spanish subject pronouns better and why there are so many ways to say “you” in Spanish, we have some free Spanish helps for that too.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.