Hello in Spanish: 60 Useful Spanish Greetings for All Occasions
Depending on the situation, there might be a specific Spanish greeting you should use beyond hola (hello).
Today, we’re going to go over a variety of greetings and introductions you can use to say hello in Spanish. We’ll also explain a little about when and how to use each one.
We’ve also included written greetings, both formal and informal, plus a section on non-verbal greetings that are common in the Spanish-speaking world.
- Essential Spanish Greetings
- 1. ¡Hola! — Hello
- 2. Buenos días — Good morning
- 3. Buenas tardes — Good afternoon
- 4. Buenas noches — Good evening
- 5. ¿Cómo está? — How are you? (Formal)
- 6. ¿Cómo estás? — How are you? (Informal)
- 7. ¿Cómo están? — How are you? (Plural)
- 8. ¿Qué tal? — How’s it going?
- 9. ¿Qué pasa? — What’s happening? / What’s up?
- 10. ¿Qué hubo? — How’s it going?
- 11. Bienvenidos — Welcome
- 12. Mi casa es su casa — My house is your house
- 13. ¿De dónde eres? — Where are you from?
- 14. ¿Cómo te llamas? — What’s your name?
- 15. ¿Aló? — Hello?
- 16. ¿Adónde vas? — Where are you going?
- 17. ¿Dónde has estado? — Where have you been?
- 18. ¡Hace tiempo que no te veo! — It’s been a while since I’ve seen you!
- 19. Mucho gusto — Nice to meet you
- 20. ¿Qué onda, microonda? — What wave, microwave?
- 21. ¿Qué pasa, huevón? — What’s up, dude?
- Formal Verbal Spanish Greetings
- Formal Written Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes
- Informal Written Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes
- Nonverbal Spanish Greetings
Essential Spanish Greetings
Now say hello to these useful greetings and introduction phrases. After all, first impressions are everything.
1. ¡Hola! — Hello
This is the most basic of the greetings, and can be combined with any of the other ones found below. Now you can say, Hola, buenos días or Hola, buenas tardes. The h is silent!
2. Buenos días — Good morning
Literally meaning “good day,” it can also mean “good morning.” Buenos días is usually used until noon.
3. Buenas tardes — Good afternoon
If you want to say “good afternoon,” and it’s one o’clock or later in the day, you can say buenas tardes.
In Spain, it may be used until later in the evening, while in most Latin American countries and the Caribbean, it may be used until the sun goes down.
4. Buenas noches — Good evening
This phrase also means “goodnight.” Always be mindful of the context since you could be saying goodbye.
5. ¿Cómo está? — How are you? (Formal)
This is a formal way of asking how someone is feeling. It’s usually reserved for older people, authority figures or as a sign of respect. In some South American countries, always use this one to be on the safe side.
Are you conducting business? It is important that you inquire about a person’s well-being before beginning any type of business talk. It’s an indication that you care about your client.
6. ¿Cómo estás? — How are you? (Informal)
The S at the end indicates that you’re talking to someone your same age or younger. If you hear tutéame, you have permission to address the person in the informal way, regardless of age.
7. ¿Cómo están? — How are you? (Plural)
Greeting a group of people? The N at the end will indicate that you just said hello to everyone.
Traveling to Spain? Say: ¿Cómo estáis? instead.
8. ¿Qué tal? — How’s it going?
For some it may be informal, but in general this question can be used with anyone in a non-business setting.
9. ¿Qué pasa? — What’s happening? / What’s up?
Talking to your friends or someone younger than you? Use the phrase ¿Qué pasa? You may also hear this one when someone wants to know if something is wrong.
10. ¿Qué hubo? — How’s it going?
This is considered informal in some countries. Use it with your friends and family. Just remember the rule about the silent H.
11. Bienvenidos — Welcome
Want to welcome someone to your home? Use this friendly greeting.
Keep the final S if you are welcoming more than one person. Drop the final S and it becomes singular.
If you’re speaking to a female, you’ll say bienvenida, but for a gentleman, say bienvenido. Welcoming a group of females? Use the word bienvenidas. It may sound chauvinistic, but use the form bienvenidos if it is a mixed group.
12. Mi casa es su casa — My house is your house
If you want to make someone comfortable in your home, you can say this. You’re not really giving your house away, but you are indicating that they can feel at home.
If you invited someone your same age, change the su to tu.
13. ¿De dónde eres? — Where are you from?
Use this phrase when you want to ask someone your age or younger where they’re from. The question will change to ¿De dónde es usted? if you’re speaking to an adult or an authority figure.
14. ¿Cómo te llamas? — What’s your name?
This literally means “What do you call yourself?” and this is what you ask to find out someone’s name. It does have a few variations depending on formality. If you want to ask someone older in Spanish you say, ¿Cómo se llama?
15. ¿Aló? — Hello?
This is a common way of answering the phone in many Spanish-speaking countries. Depending on where you travel, you may hear bueno, sí, and diga used for answering a phone call.
Regardless of the greeting, respond by saying who you are and make sure to inquire how they are. It’s impolite not to ask! Thank them very much. Then, state the purpose of your call.
16. ¿Adónde vas? — Where are you going?
Saying hello to someone who’s in a rush? To ask someone where they’re going in Spanish, say this phrase. Change it to va for formal conversations and if you’re asking a group of people where they’re going in Spain, change the last word to vais.
17. ¿Dónde has estado? — Where have you been?
Has it been a long time since you’ve seen someone? Say hola and find out where they have been. Be prepared to get the whole story!
18. ¡Hace tiempo que no te veo! — It’s been a while since I’ve seen you!
You’re saying hello, but it’s been ages since you’ve seen them.
19. Mucho gusto — Nice to meet you
This is an easy thing to say to anyone you’re meeting for the first time. It literally means “much pleasure,” but you can use it to express your happiness in meeting someone.
20. ¿Qué onda, microonda? — What wave, microwave?
This is an incredibly stupid (or funny, depending on your mindset) way to greet people in Chile, where the more standard ¿Qué onda? (What’s up?) rules the day.
21. ¿Qué pasa, huevón? — What’s up, dude?
This fun greeting is pretty much just used in South America.
For some extra help learning these super-useful greetings, look for them in authentic media. For instance, you can see them in use in native Spanish videos like movie clips and vlogs on FluentU.
Create your own deck of interactive, video flashcards with these greetings (and any other words you want to learn) to see other videos where they appear for context, and test your memory of them using personalized flashcards.
Formal Verbal Spanish Greetings
We discussed the royalty and Spain’s (quite proper) attitude towards them earlier.
Here’s how one would orally great them in theory, as well as how someone should definitely greet (with sarcasm) a friend who’s being a bit pompous:
- Su Majestad — Your majesty
- Señor Rey — Your majesty the king
- Señora Reina — Your majesty the queen
- Majestades / Vuestras Majestades — Your majesties
As for princes or princesses, one humors them with the following:
For your average high-falutin’ folks, you can use:
If you’re having proper adventures in Spain or Latin America, you may eventually need to know how to address a judge:
- Honorable — Honorable; this can be followed by the judge’s last name, or not.
Formal Written Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes
At the beginning of a formal letter, one can use the following phrases followed by a colon ( : ).
- A quien corresponda — To whom it may concern
- Estimado señor/Estimada señora/Estimados señores/Estimadas señoras — Literally: esteemed sir/madam/sirs/madams
The above two greetings are particularly useful for starting a letter when you don’t know the name of the person you’re addressing, like when writing to a company. If you do know the name, just add it. For example: Estimado Señor Almodóvar.
- Muy señor mío/Muy señora mía/Muy señores míos/Muy señoras mías — Very much my dear sir/madam/sirs/madams
There are a few standard ways to end a formal communication in Spanish. Keep in mind that your name will go below each of these.
- Gracias y saludos — Thank you and salutations/greetings.
- Le saludo atentamente — Literally, this means “I sincerely salute/greet you.” If you’re writing to more than one person, use les saludo atentamente.
- Atentamente/Muy atentamente — Sincerely/Very sincerely
- Reciba mi más cordial saludo — Receive my warmest greetings; for more than one person, it’s reciban mi más cordial saludo.
- Saludos cordiales — Best regards
- Dándole las gracias por anticipado — Thanking you in advance; for more than one person write dándoles las gracias por anticipado.
- Esperando su contestación, le saluda — In waiting for your reply, you are greeted by (name, one line below)
- A la espera de recibir sus noticias, le saluda — In waiting to receive your news, you are greeted by (name, one line below)
- Quedo a la espera de su respuesta — I’m looking forward to your answer
Informal Written Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes
In letters (that long-dead art, I know) to friends, lovers and family, you can write the following to start things off:
- Querido/Querida/Queridos/Queridas — This is the past participle of querer, which means to want/love/wish. Here it just means the same as “dear.” It varies according to gender and number as with the greetings we saw earlier.
And to sign off, these first two are friendly but not too friendly:
- Un cordial saludo — Best regards; literally, “a cordial greeting.”
- Cordialmente — Sincerely
If you have a closer relationship, or hope to, you might write:
- Un fuerte abrazo — A strong hug
- Un cariñoso saludo — A caring greeting
- Besos — Kisses; as we saw earlier, these aren’t necessarily as romantic as Anglophones tend to take them.
- Te amo — I love you; this one is obviously more romantic.
- Besos y abrazos — kisses and hugs
As with other languages, most friendly written communication in Spanish is now limited to what you can poke out on your mobile device screen (incidentally, WhatsApp is the most popular service for this in Spain and much of Latin America). Often, vowels are omitted. (Check out our excellent full guide to text-message talk in Spanish.)
- Hla — Hello (from hola)
- Q tl? — How are you? (from ¿Qué tal?) I have to admit, a lot of my own Spanish friends do spell this out a bit more as q tal?, but many of them are also over 30.
- Bs — Kisses (from besos)
- a10 — Wait, before you read further, can you figure this out on your own? Think about how it’s pronounced. If you guessed adiós (goodbye), congrats!
Nonverbal Spanish Greetings
Let’s get those lovely cheek kisses straight first. In Latin America, you do one kiss on one cheek for personal greetings. In Spain, one does two kisses, one on each cheek.
To answer a popular Anglophone question: generally the cheeks just rub together and you kiss the air, but if the cheek in question is extra pinchable, or if there’s a lot of enthusiasm or affection involved, lips may actually brush cheeks. Usually people go first left then right.
Generally two men don’t cheek-kiss each other hello or goodbye, except in some circles and in Spain. However, men are likely to kiss when congratulations are in order between close friends or relatives—for example the bride and groom usually get dos besos (two kisses) from all of the guests.
In some Latin American countries, kisses are also sometimes used as greetings in business situations between men and women or two women.
Handshakes and occasional hugs
Handshakes are used in business situations and among male friends both in Spain and Latin America. One-armed hugs with a bit of back-slapping can be employed to show enthusiasm.
Bow or curtsy
Spain still keeps up the symbols of a flagrantly undemocratic past by officially clinging to (and financially supporting) its royalty. They’re not particularly popular (thanks to shooting elephants, among other things), but if you run into royals, you may want to know that you’re expected to show respect by bowing or curtsying.
There’s no strict rule or law on it, so really it’s up to you to decide if you want to humor them.
If you want to learn more, we also have an excellent and complete post on greeting your people in more informal ways.
Now go out and say hello. Maybe you’ll make some Spanish-speaking friends!