Spanish Greetings 101: Learn the Basics

Check out these essential Spanish phrases and examples for everyday use.

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We’re all aware that greetings are one of the most important and essential parts of learning a new language like Spanish.

But did you know that there are many different ways to say “hello” in Spanish depending on which country you’re in?

To help you out on your travels, or if you’re just looking to broaden your knowledge, let’s dive into some of the different phrases that you can use to say hello to speakers of Spanish from across the globe.

Saying “hello” in Spanish

Do you know how to say “hi” in Spanish? Hola (hello/hi) is the most commonly used greeting in Spanish. This expression can be used throughout the day, and it's typical of informal contexts with friends or family.

A variety of “hi” that you'll also hear people say is “Hey!” This can also be written as “Ey!” depending on where it’s written, and is due to be introduced to the Spanish dictionary in the future. Some people also say ¿Qué tal? ¿Qué hubo? (What ́s up?).

A more formal way to greet someone is saying buenos or buenas, followed by the part of the day you are in: días (days), tardes (evening) or noches (night). The two words are always in plural.

Remember that when you use buenos or buenas depends on the gender of the word you are talking about - so if it’s feminine or masculine. El día (the day) is masculine, which is why we use buenos, while la tarde y la noche (the afternoon and the night) are feminine, so we use buenas.

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How do you know when to use each of the greetings?

The use of each greeting depends on the time of the day. The morning goes from sunrise to lunchtime, and the afternoon goes from lunchtime until sunset. The time from sunset to sunrise is night.

Let's see some examples:

  • In the morning, we say buenos días (good morning).
  • In the afternoon and evening, we say buenas tardes (good afternoon).
  • At night, we say buenas noches (goodnight).

Country-specific greetings

The way people greet each other also varies according to the culture of the part of the world. In the United States people meet you, and they happily say “Hello!” or “Nice to meet you!” But in Latin America, people often make physical contact along with their spoken greeting.

Another custom in some parts of Latin America is to greet every person individually, even if they are in a group.

Read more about the differences between different Spanish speaking cultures:

Spanish in Spain vs Spanish in Latin America

Let's look at the different ways people greet each other in different countries.


In Colombia, ¿Quiubo? This is a contracted form of ¿Qué hubo? (What 's up?).

So, if you hear a Colombian saying ¿Quiubo, parce?, it means “What´s up, friend?”

Other ways to begin a conversation in Colombia are:

  • ¿Qué me cuentas? - What's up?
  • Hola, ¿qué más? - Hello, what else?

You can reply depending on whether you are in a better or worse mood:

  • Todo bacano - all cool
  • Viento en popa - smooth sailing
  • Sobreviviendo - surviving
  • Ahí voy - There I go
  • Pues para que te digo que bien si estoy mal - Well, why tell you that I'm fine if I'm not?

Costa Rica

Costa Ricans are known worldwide for the greeting ¿Pura vida?, to which people usually reply, if they are very well, “Pura vida (Estoy bien, gracias)” - Pure life (I'm fine, thanks) or “Pura vida, mae” - Pure life, dude

"Pura vida" is more than the expression "very good;" it's an attitude. "Pura vida" is the Costa Rican version of "Hakuna Matata," the saying from the Disney movie The Lion King, which refers to a relaxed philosophy of life.

We can also see it as the Latin American version of "c'est la vie." It's one of the main reasons why Costa Rica is such a laid back and relaxed place.


The most obvious slang greeting among Chileans would be something like this:

¡Weeena weon/a! ¿Cómo estái? (¡Hola, amigo/a, ¿cómo estás?) - How are you? (Hello, friend, how are you?)

The friendly reply would be:

  • Aquí estamos bacan (Aquí estoy muy bien) – Here I am half sad


In Ecuador, there are a number of variants of "How are you?"

  • ¿Qué fue? - What was it?
  • ¿Qué hay? - What's up?
  • ¿Cómo vas? - How are things with you?
  • ¿Qué dice? - What do you say?

If everything is okay, you reply:

  • Todo joya - all jewel
  • Pero también puedes estar bacan, pepa y/o gara (estupendo). - But you can also be cool.


Some common forms of greetings in Cuba are:

  • ¿Qué bola? (¿Qué tal?) - (How are you?)
  • De pinga (Muy bien) - (Very good)
  • De madre (Mal) - (Bad)


Mexicans greet each other with ¿Quiubo? - How are you?

A more expressive Mexican slang term you can use to say "how good" is ¡Qué padre! How cool!

And one way of saying sin novedades destacables (no notable news) would be Aquí nomás - Just here.

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Bolivians go beyond a simple “well;” they appeal to the sense of taste to show their joy with expressions such as:

  • ¡Qué rico! - Delicious!
  • ¡Riquísimo! - Delicious!


Che (friend), in Argentina people greet each other like this:

  • ¿Cómo andás? - What do you do?
  • ¿Qué hacés? - What's happening?
  • ¿Qué pasa? - How are you?

And don't be surprised with a greeting containing linked questions:

  • Hello, how are you, how are you, everything okay? - Hola, ¿qué tal, cómo andás, todo bien?

You can reply using any of the examples below:

  • Todo bien, genial, rebién (si todo está bien) - All good, great, fine (if everything is good)
  • Estoy bajoneado (si no está tan bien) - I'm low (if it's not that good)

Top Tip: “Quiubo” is used in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama.


In Spain, it’s common to hear the expression ¿Qué hay, tío/a? - What's up, uncle? (Uncle/aunt does not refer to the relative; it is the colloquial way of appealing to friends).

Here are other ways of greeting each other:

  • ¿Cómo andas? - How are you?
  • Guay - the “good” of “old man” slang
  • De lujo - Deluxe (if you want to sound a bit more chic)
  • Ahí voy - There I go
  • Ahí vamos - Here we go
  • Hecha polvo / hecho polvo - Dusty (may reflect sadness or tiredness)

Saying goodbye in Spanish

There are different expressions you can use when saying goodbye in Spanish.

  • Adiós - Bye, goodbye. This is the most common of all and it's used when you don't plan to see the other person soon
  • Hasta luego - See you later, which is used when you´re going to see that person in a short time
  • Chao - Bye
  • In Spain, chao (bye) is used in informal contexts with family or friends
  • Hasta … - Until… plus the date on which you are going to see that person again.

For example:

  • Hasta el lunes - Until Monday
  • Hasta la próxima semana - Until next week
  • Nos vemos mañana - See you tomorrow
  • Buenas noches - Good night
  • Nos vemos pronto - see you soon. This expression indicates that you want to see the other person again in a short time period

Formal and informal greetings

Normally the difference between a formal and an informal greeting is the same as when you use (informal you) or usted (formal you).


Formal and informal greetings

Formal Informal
Buenos días - Good morning Hola - Hello/hi (the most common greeting)
Buenas tardes - Good afternoon/evening Hey - Hi (variant)
Buenas noches - Good night Saludos - Greetings
Que tenga (usted) buenos días / buenas tardes / buenas noches - Have a good day/evening/night Que tengas (tú) buenos días / buenas tardes / buenas noches - Have a good day/evening/night
¡Qué gusto verlo! - Glad to see you ¡Qué gusto verte! - Glad to see you
Tanto tiempo sin verlo - Long time no seeing you Tanto tiempo sin verte - Long time no seeing you
¿Cómo está usted? - How are you? ¿Cómo estás (tú)?/¿Qué tal? - How are you?
¿Cómo le va? - How are you? ¿Cómo te va? How 's it going?
¿Cómo ha estado? - How have you been? (refers to your health or new events in your private life) ¿Cómo está(n) tu _____? hermano(s), novia, familia, padre(s), etc. - How is(are) your _____? brother(s), girlfriend, family, parent(s), etc.

Other greetings in Spanish

Finally, let's learn some other common Spanish phrases you can use to greet people on different special occasions.

For Christmas, New Years or traditional feasts

  • Feliz año nuevo. - Happy New Year
  • (Nosotros a ustedes) Les deseamos una feliz navidad. - We wish you a merry Christmas
  • Felices fiestas. - Happy holidays
  • Feliz día de la madre. - Happy Mother's Day
  • Feliz día del padre. - Happy Father's Day

For birthdays

  • Con todo nuestro cariño para ti en este día especial. - With all our love to you on this special day
  • Que tengas un muy feliz cumpleaños. - Have a happy birthday
  • Te deseo lo mejor en este día. - Wish you the best on this day

To wish someone luck

  • ¡Que tengas suerte!- Good luck
  • ¡Que te vaya bien! - Good luck
  • Buena suerte - Good luck
  • Te deseamos mucha suerte con … - We wish you luck with …
  • Te deseamos lo mejor …- We wish you the best…
  • ¡Mejor suerte para la próxima! - Good luck next time!

For someone who is sick

  • Que te mejores pronto- Get well soon
  • Que te recuperes pronto. - Get well soon
  • Le deseo una pronta recuperación (formal) - I wish you a speedy recovery (formal)

To congratulate someone

  • ¡Felicitaciones! - Congratulations!
  • ¡Muy bien! - Very well!
  • ¡Qué bien! - How good!
  • ¡Excelente! - Excellent!
  • ¡Qué bien hecho! - How well done!
  • ¡Buen trabajo! - Good work!

When writing a letter

To begin a letter:

  • Estimado señor - Dear sir (formal - for a man)
  • Estimada señora/señorita - Dear Madam/Miss (formal - for a woman)
  • Querido amigo/amiga - Dear friend (if he/she is a close or intimate acquaintance)
  • Hola amigo/amiga - Hello friend / friend (if he/she is a close or intimate acquaintance)

To end a letter:

  • Saluda cordialmente a Ud. (formal) - Greetings cordially to you (formal)
  • Atentamente (formal) - Sincerely (formal)
  • Sinceramente (formal) - Sincerely (formal)
  • Le saluda atentamente usted - Yours sincerely
  • Cariñosamente - Yours sincerely (if a close or intimate acquaintance)
  • Quedo a la espera de tu/su respuesta. - I await your (informal)/your (formal) response.

Continue learning more Spanish greetings!

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