Even if you've never taken a Spanish course, you probably know how to say "hola" to say hello in that language. However, in both Spanish and French there are many ways to greet other people. Learning these greetings is a great step in learning to speak Spanish. Add some local slang to it and people will think you are Spaniard!
Method 1 of 3: Learn Basic Greetings
Step 1. Start with “¡Hola! " This is the basic Spanish greeting and you can use it to greet anyone in any situation. Latin American culture can be more formal, but if you are in doubt, this is the best way to greet someone.
If you are meeting a group of people, you can say “hola” to them individually. It might not be necessary everywhere, but it will still be seen as a sign of respect
Step 2. Switch to more casual ways
As in French, Spanish has different ways of greeting friends or people you know less well, as well as in more casual situations.
- “¿Qué pasa? "(Qué passa) which means" what's going on? "
- “¿Qué tal? "(Qué tal) which means" how are you? "
- “¿Qué haces? "(Qué hassesse) which means" what are you doing? "Or" what are you doing? "
Step 3. Use “¿Cómo estás? »(Como estasse) to greet people
As in French, the Spaniards sometimes skip the “hello” and go directly to “ça va”. You will change the form of the verb "estar" depending on who you are going to greet.
- Say “¿Cómo estás? When you talk informally, for example with someone your age, younger or who you know well.
- If you are speaking in a more formal way, to someone older or in a position of authority, you should say “¿Cómo está? "You can also say" ¿Cómo está usted? If you are in doubt, it is better to choose the formal formula and give the other person the choice of telling you that it is not necessary to use it.
- When talking to a group, tell them “¿Cómo están? "
Step 4. Use a greeting on the phone
In most places you will answer the phone saying “¿Hola? », Everyone will understand you well. However, most Spanish speakers answer the phone saying “¿Aló? ".
- In South America, you may also hear “¿Sí? This is all the more common in the business world.
- Spaniards often answer the phone saying “¿Dígame? "Or its shorter version" ¿Díga? It also means "hi", but it is only used to answer the phone.
- If you're the one calling, it's more polite to start the call using a formula appropriate to the time of day. For example, if you call someone in the morning, you can say “¡Buenos días! "(Bouénosse diasse) which means" good morning ".
Step 5. Answer “¿Cómo estás?
» Use the formula "good, gracias" (biene, graciasse). This basic response means "I'm fine, thank you". As in French, Spanish speakers generally answer that they are fine with this kind of question even if this is not the case.
You could answer “Más o menos” which means “not too bad”. It's a little more dramatic than "well, gracias"
Step 6. Edit the response according to the salutation
Sometimes, even in French, you answer on autopilot. Someone asks you "are you okay?"”And you automatically answer“I'm fine”. By modifying your answers, you will avoid making these kinds of mistakes in Spanish.
For example, if someone asks you “¿Qué tal? "(What's up), you can answer" Nada "(nothing)
Method 2 of 3: Greet people at the time of day
Step 1. Say “¡Buenos días! »(Bouenosse diasse) in the morning
Even though this phrase literally means "good days" (but interpreted as "good day"), it is generally used in the morning. As a general rule, you can use it anytime before noon.
Also be aware that Spanish greetings based on time of day are most often plural. You might occasionally come across "buen día" (bouène dia), but "buenos días" is much more common
Step 2. Use “¡Buenas tardes!”(Bouènasse tardesse) in the afternoon
If it's after 1pm, you can use this greeting in place of “hola” to say “hello” in the afternoon. In Latin America you usually won't use it after sunset, but in Spain you can still hear it in the evening.
Step 3. Say “¡Buenas noches! »(Bouènasse notchesse) in the evening
This phrase means "good night" and is used to greet someone who is coming and going. When you use it in the first case, it is more correct to translate it as "good evening".
In general, “¡Buenas noches! Is considered a more formal greeting, so pay attention to the context. Use it more often with strangers, especially with people older than you
Step 4. Try “¡Muy buenos! »(Mouï bouènosse)
“¡Muy buenos! Is a shorter version for any greeting of the day. If it's around noon and you're not sure which greeting to use, you can use this one.
Method 3 of 3: Use local slang
Step 1. Listen to native speakers
When you travel to a Spanish speaking country, take a few minutes to listen and absorb the conversation around you. This will allow you to learn other ways of greeting people.
You could also learn more by watching series in Spanish or listening to music in Spanish, especially pop
Step 2. Use “¿Qué onda?”(Qué onda) in Mexico
The literal translation ("what's vague") doesn't mean much, but this phrase is typically used as a casual form of greeting, sort of like "is it rolling?" Watch your tone, because depending on how you say it, this phrase can also be understood as' you got a problem? ".
- You can also say hello to Mexico by saying “quiubole” or “q'bole” (pronounced “kyoubolé”).
- “¿Qué onda? Is also popular in other parts of Latin America. If you hear someone else using it, feel free to use it too.
Step 3. Try “¿Qué más? (Qué masse) in Colombia
This phrase literally means "what more? But it is used in Colombia and other parts of Latin America to greet people.
Step 4. Use “¿Qué hay? "(Qué aye) or" ¿Qué tal? »(Qué tal) in Spain
These two sentences are casual greetings in this country, much like saying "hi" to a friend in France.
Step 5. Learn the answers to these greetings
Just as you can greet someone with these phrases, you can respond to them too. There are answers that are only used between friends and people who know each other or between people your age.
- “¡No me quejo!”(No mé quého) is one of the most popular. It means "I'm not complaining".
- You can also answer “Es lo que hay” (es lo qué aye) which means “this is what it is”. This can be a smart answer if you are asked "¿Qué es la que hay?" (Qué esse la qué aye), a greeting widely used in Puerto Rico.