German Greetings: 10 Best Ways to Say Hello in German

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Hello is one of the most important words to learn in any language since it is the first thing you will say to someone when you meet them. 

Much like with other languages, there are many ways to say hello in German and it is good to learn a couple of different variations so you can mix up your vocabulary and alter your hello based on context. 

This guide will break down all the different ways you can say hello in German so you can confidently greet people in Germany, no matter what situation you are in. 

Hello in German at a Glance

  • Hallo – “Hello”
  • Guten Tag – “Good day”
  • Guten Morgen – “Good morning”
  • Guten Abend –  “Good evening
  • Alles klar – “All clear”
  • Was ist los? – “What’s up?”
  • Wie geht es dir? – “How’s it going?”
  • Grüß Gott! – “God bless you”
  • Servus – “At your service”
  • Moin! – “Hi!”
  • Na – “Hi, how are you? Fine thanks, how are you?”
  • Hier ist… – “It’s…”
  • Tschüss – “Goodbye”
  • Ciao – “Bye”
  • Auf Wiedersehen – “See you again”
  • Bis bald – “See you soon”

1. Hallo – “Hello” in German 

The easiest way to say “hello” in German is to simply swap the “e” from “hello” with an “a” to create “hallo”. 

Not only is “hallo” a friendly all-purpose greeting but it can also be used in basically any situation, whether informal or formal. 

Since “hallo” is so easy to remember you will be able to learn and understand even more German “hellos”, like the ones below. 

2. Guten Tag – “Good Day” in German

The most famous German “hello” is definitely “guten Tag” which directly translates as “good day”. 

Although in English “good day” would be extremely formal, “guten Tag” is only slightly formal and is still used in everyday conversations. 

The great thing about this greeting is that you can change it depending on the time of day to create a “hello” that is more personalized to the situation. 

Guten, in this phrase, means “good” so all you have to do is simply add in the word, that indicates the time of day, after “guten” to create a different greeting. 

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For example: 

  • Before midday: “guten Morgen” (good morning)
  • Midday until around 6pm: “guten Tag” (good day)
  • 6 pm until bedtime: “guten Abend” (good evening)

Although “gut” means “good” in German, since “Tag” meaning “day” is the object of the greeting, we must use the masculine accusative form of “gut” which is “guten”. 

“Guten Tag” is basically a shortened version of “ich wünsche dir einen guten Tag” meaning “I wish you a good day” and so you could say this longer version instead – but it is of course an uncommon  phrase. 

3. Alles klar – “All Clear” in German

If you are ever in Germany you will often hear people saying “alles klar” and it is a great German phrase to learn since it is so versatile. 

The meaning of “alles klar” is “everything (is) clear!” and it can be used in many different ways. “Alles klar” can be used as a question to ask someone how they are, as a statement to tell someone all is alright or simply as a filler phrase to fill the silence. 

However, “alles klar” can also be used as a greeting in a similar way to how “what’s up” is used in English. 

The best way to answer someone who greets you with “alles klar” is with a simple simple “ja” meaning “yes”. 

Alternatively, you could even reply using “alles klar” by saying: “ja, alles klar, danke”, meaning “yes, everything is good thanks”.

4. Was ist Los? – “What’s up?” in German

If you want another way to say “hello” that also means “what’s up” then you can say “was ist los?”

The adjective “los” roughly translates to “free” or separate” and “was ist los?” is therefore similar to greeting someone “alles klar”,since “was ist los?” means “what’s up?” or “what’s going on?”. 

Be aware though because “was ist los?” can also mean “what’s up” as in “what’s the matter”.  

This can be confusing since sometimes saying “was ist los?” can imply you think someone has something wrong with them. Of course, it all depends on the context of the situation and the tone of voice you use that will indicate what you intend to say. 

In this sense “was ist los?” is similar to how British people would use “you alright?” as both a greeting or as a genuine question of concern. 

When used as a greeting though, “was ist los?” doesn’t require an in-depth answer. 

5. Wie Geht es Dir? – “How’s it going?” in German

A common German greeting that you can use when meeting someone is “wie geht es dir?”. 

Although the literal translation of “wie geht es dir?” is “how does it go to you?”,  the more common meaning of the phrase is “how’s it going?”. 

Using the word “dir” signifies that the phrase is an informal one. So you would only use “wie geht es dir?” as a casual greeting. 

If you want to make the phrase more formal you would substitute “dir” for “Ihnen” to create the greeting “wie geht es Ihnen?”. Also, if you want to greet a group you would say “wie geht es euch?” instead. 

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You will often hear “wie geht es dir?” shortened to simply “wie geht’s?” making it an even easier greeting to remember. 

To respond to “wie geht es dir?” or “wie geht’s?” you can simply say “gut, danke” meaning “good, thanks”

Different Regional German Greetings

There are different colloquial greetings across German-speaking countries and regions that are good to be aware of. The following greetings listed below are unique to different regions and make for great variations that you can use when in specific areas.  

6. Grüß Gott! – “God Bless You” in German

Mainly used in the southeast region of Bavaria as well as in Austria, “Grüß Gott” means “God bless you”. 

The literal translation of “Grüß Gott” is “greetings (from) God” and it is a very formal way to say hello in these different German-speaking areas. 

A slightly less formal variation of “Grüß Gott” is “Grüß dich!” which basically means “greetings to you!” and is also used across Bavaria mostly by the older generation.

7. Servus – “At Your Service” in German

Another regional greeting to use for “hello” in German is “servus”.

Despite “servus” actually meaning “servant” in Latin, the term derives from a Latin phrase meaning “at your service” and is therefore used in this way. 

This phrase can be used to say “hello” or “goodbye” in places like Bavaria or Austria and is quite formal, much like “Grüß Gott”.

8. Moin! – “Hi!” in German

A common greeting in northern Germany is “Moin” which means “hi”. 

If you are ever in and around cities like Hamburg, you may hear “Moin!’ said frequently and so it is a good phrase to use to fit in like a local when you greet someone in the northern part of Germany.

You can even say it twice for extra impact as “moin moin” is a common expression. 

“Moin” possibly derives from either a regional pronunciation of “Morgen” meaning “morning” or a Low German version of the word “good”.

Since it is such a fun and simple word that can be used at any time of the day, “Moin” should certainly be one to remember. 

9. Na – “Hi, How Are You? Fine Thanks, How Are You?” in German

Another regional German greeting that is very simple and very versatile is “na”.

“Na” is a small word that contains a lot of meaning and is used by locals to mean countless things depending on the context of a conversation. 

“Na” although seeming similar to the English word “no” actually means “well” and so when someone says “na” they can be asking you if you are well. 

However “na” is a very complicated word that is used in too many ways to explain here, since it is mostly used by locals in the north of Germany, people from Southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland even struggle with this word.   

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A typical conversation for our purposes between two people saying “na” to each other would translate as “hey are you well?” and “yes I am well thanks” 

A word that encapsulates the classic stereotype of German efficiency, “na” is a useful word to understand and be able to use when in Germany. 

10. Hier ist… – “It’s…” in German

If you want to say “hello” to someone over the phone or in a situation where you need to signal to someone who is talking, you need to know how to say “it’s__”. 

To say for example “hi, it’s John” you would say “hallo, hier ist John” meaning. “hier ist” actually means “here is” but is the phrase to use in these situations to identify yourself to someone who knows you. 

When communicating with someone you know via a call or text or email if they do not recognize your voice, phone number, or email address you are contacting them from, it is vital to identify yourself during the initial greeting, hence why “Hier ist…” is included on this list. 

Obviously, this last phrase has a niche use, but it is useful to know nevertheless. 

… and 4 ways to say Goodbye

Of course, it is also useful to know how to end a conversation in German with a “goodbye” phrase. Below we look at four different ways to say “goodbye” in German. 

11. Tschüss – “Goodbye” in German

The most common way to say “goodbye” in German is “tschüss” which means “bye”. 

Although it may look like a difficult word to pronounce, the “tsch” sound is said like a “ch” sound in English so it is relatively easy to say. 

This is the phrase you will hear most often when people are saying “goodbye” in German and so it is useful to know. 

12. Ciao – “Bye” 

Much like in other parts of Europe the Italian word “ciao” is used often in Germany for “goodbye”. 

Despite not originating from Germany, you will hear “ciao” used often by Germans and so it is very useful to know you can use this word outside of Italy and be understood.

13. Auf Wiedersehen – “See you again” in German

“Auf wiedersehen” is a German “goodbye” phrase that is very well-known worldwide. 

The word “wieder” meaning “again” combines with “sehen” “to see” and therefore “auf wiedersehen” translates as “when we see each other again!”.

However, despite its fame as a classic German farewell phrase, “auf wiedersehen” actually sounds quite formal to Germans and is a bit old-fashioned, 

Of course though, if you used “auf wiedersehen” in Germany you would still be understood. 

14. Bis bald – “See you soon” in German

“Bis bald” translates as “until soon” and is basically like saying “see you soon” in German. 

This farewell is an informal way of saying goodbye so is great to use in casual situations when with friends. 

Hello in German – Video Guide

How to Say Hello in German – Final Thoughts

Now you know all the many different ways to say “hello” in German, you will be able to greet German-speaking people no matter the situation. 

Whether you are meeting friends, greeting someone formally or want to open an interaction with “what’s up?” you will be prepared to greet anyone that you come across. 

Hopefully, you will also be able to say “hello” to people in the regional variations when visiting different German-speaking areas, which is sure to impress the person you are greeting. 

So get out there and start conversations in German or just say “hi” to someone in German to brighten their day. 

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