One of the things I hate about learning a new language like Spanish is only being able to say the bare minimum. Yeah, I get that you need your roots before you can start talking like you actually know what you’re talking about, but I just imagine walking around in my own country and just saying ‘hello’ to everyone. It’s weird, considering we English speakers have so many different ways to say hello!
Language learning is awkward, but I don’t want it to be anymore awkward than it has to be! Therefore, I’m going to address 14 different ways to say hello in Spanish, no matter what level of Spanish you’re at!
Let’s start with the basics.
First up is hola. This is your basic, every day ‘hello’. It absolutely works in any situation you could ever find yourself in, but it gets boring after a while, and native speakers have a plethora of other words and phrases to use.
We’ve got como estás, which we’ve learned to translate (if you've taken the free lesson on how to create Spanish sentences), literally meaning ‘how are you’. Easy, right? We say the same in English, too! You can also go a step further to como está usted, something you’ll say to someone who needs a more respectful greeting. It still means ‘how are you’, just has a hint of formality, like saying ‘how are you sir’.
A really common one that you generally won't find in a Spanish textbook, depending on which country you’re in of course, is bueno or buenas. This literally translates as ‘good’, but can be used in virtually any situation to greet someone and sound like you actually belong.
This greeting is a shortened version of a couple other different ways to say hello.
We’ve got buenos días which literally means ‘good days’. You’ll find this phrase used an awful lot, too, usually used more as ‘good morning’ than anything else. Wait a few hours, and you’ll start to hear buenas tardes (pay attention to the a!), which means ‘good afternoon’.
Hint: if you have a hard time remembering the difference between buenos días and buenas tardes, look at the word 'tarde'. Say it out loud. Sound familiar? Does it sound kind of like 'tardy' to you? 'Tarde' translates to 'late' in English. So, which one's later - morning or afternoon?
Welcoming someone? Use bienvenidos, literally translated to ‘good come’, but better known as ‘welcome’. Not far off, huh?
Here’s the thing: there are several ways to say 'what’s up' in Spanish. Kind of like how we have ‘how’s it hangin’, ‘what’s going on’, and what’s crack-a-lackin’, Spanish speakers can use qué hay, qué tal, qué pasa, and como te va to say the same sort of thing.
If you know your ir conjugations, you can tell that como te vas literally translates to ‘how do you go’ (or how are you doing, in Spanish-speak); 'qué pasa' literally translates as 'what’s happening'. As for qué hay and qué tal, they have less direct translations, but they're still different ways to say hello in Spanish, and you'll definitely be faced with them!
Speaking of phrases...
Okay, let’s get into some elite beginner greetings, shall we?
First: 'long time no see'. In Spanish, this is tanto tiempo sin verte. Let's translate that, yeah?
Tanto tiempo sin verte. Directly translated:
So much time without seeing you.
Make sense? Let's give another one a go: 'how nice to see you'. This one is que gusto de verte.
Que gusto de verte. Directly translated:
What pleasure of seeing you.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the phrase 'how have you been?' This one's actually a direct translation to como has estado.
There are tons of different ways to say hello in Spanish!
Honestly, the list of different ways to say hello in Spanish is pretty much endless. Language is a living, breathing entity that is constantly changing. Did I miss any words or phrases you know about or like to use? Let me know in the comments below if you have any other different ways to say hello in Spanish!