Formal German Greetings

  • By Siddhi Ghale
  • May 21, 2024
  • German Language
Formal German Greetings

Formal German Greetings

German greetings should look and sound familiar to English speakers. Very, very familiar. Many are close cousins to English with just a few pronunciation differences. Let’s take a look at a few Formal German Greetings

Hallo is the all-around best way to say hi in German. It’s safe for formal or informal contexts and is super simple to say: HA-loh.

Careful, though: In Switzerland, Hallo is reserved for informal situations only.

Guten Morgen means good morning, with Guten meaning good and Morgen meaning morning.

Guten Tag means good day and is generally used from midday until about 6 p.m.

Guten Abend means good evening and is used starting at about 6 p.m.

Wie geht es Ihnen? uses the formal form of you to ask how someone is doing.

Most often, you’ll be stringing some of these phrases together when you see someone. So, to say ‘Hello, how are you?’ in German, you’d say Hallo, Wie geht es Ihnen?

The time-of-day greetings can all be shortened by dropping the Guten from the phrase. So, to greet someone, you can also simply say:








German Informal and Greetings

Hi means exactly the same in German as in English. Use Hi with friends, or in informal situations – you’re always safe to repeat it when someone says it to you, but it may be best to avoid greeting your new employer that way… Unless they’re the kind of person you’d hang out with at the skatepark after work! Also Explore Weekdays in German

So better to be safe than sorry and use Guten Morgen or Guten Abend with your boss and in other formal situations.

Huhu (Hoo-hoo!) If Huhu were a scenario, it’d be your annoying neighbor spotting you and, bursting with excitement, making a beeline straight for you so they can fill you in on the latest gossip.

I bet you can almost hear the pitchy Huuuhuuu! now…

That’s the greeting in a nutshell. But don’t worry – it isn’t always used in scenarios that make you want to hide behind your front door.  It’s also a really nice and cheerful way to greet a group of friends.


Alles klar? This greeting might be the opener of a casual chat: Alles klar? literally translates to “Is everything alright?” or “Everything ok?”. 

It’s actually the cool, laid-back little brother of Wie geht es dir? (“How are you?”).

We use it similarly to “You alright?”, or “How’s it going?”.

Was ist los? means ‘what’s happening?’ or ‘what’s new?’ and is a good way to greet a friend. 

Wie läuft’s? is another way to ask ‘what’s happening?’ that literally translates to ‘what’s running?’.

& 12. Wie geht es dir? & Was geht ab? You can ask ‘how are you?’ by saying Wie geht es dir? This informal conjugation is best for peers, friends and is typically used by teenagers. It can also be shortened to Was geht ab? or simply Wie geht’s? 

Wie geht’s dir? and Wie geht’s? aren’t used for small talk and aren’t used as a substitute for a greeting, but a question you use when you actually want an answer.  Don’t want to go into specifics? You can actually just ask Alles klar? and respond with Alles klar!

Na Another German favorite that defies a direct translation is Na. When you see a friend you may say Na? and they’ll respond Na back, often with the vowel stretched out and exaggerated. It’s very casual and almost a little cheeky—give it a try!

Forget lessons. Start conversations. 


Regional German Greetings

If you start hearing Grüetzi or Servus, you may wonder if you’ve taken the wrong airplane. While Hallo and Guten Tag are accepted and understood across the German-speaking world, you can blend in better by using a more localized hello in some places. Let’s go over the common regional greetings.


Northern Germany

Tachchen is a cute and casual Northern German way to say hi.

Moin Moin or simply Moin is likely a short form of Morgen and is an endearing way to say hello at any time of day. 


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Southern Germany and Austria

Servus is a loanword from Italian, meaning servant. It’s a simple, generic greeting that can mean hello or goodbye. Griasde can mean hello or cheers! Put this one in your pocket for when you visit Oktoberfest.

Grüß Gott (pronounced GRUES goht) is the most common way to say hello across Bavaria and Austria. It’s a formal greeting that means ‘God greets you’. For a more neutral version without religious connotation, use Grüß dich (‘Greet you’). 



& 19. Sali & Tschau Swiss German greetings reflect its country’s mixed linguistic heritage and borrows from Southern Germany, France, and Italy. Informal Swiss greetings include Sali, a loanword from the French salut,e and Tschau, a twist on the Italian Ciao. 

Grüezi or Griezi (specific to Basel) are the most common ways to say hi and are appropriate for formal and informal scenarios. These are shortened forms of Gott grüez i, which also means ‘God greets you’.  Swiss German can sound very different from Hochdeutsch (High/standard German), so you’ll variations of standard greetings like Guete Morge and Guete Daag. Explore the Months in German.


20 Ways to Say Hello in German








Formally or informally


Guten Tag/Tag




Good day


Formally with an elder, a business contact, or someone you don’t know 


Guten Morgen/Morgen


GOO-ten MOR-gen/MOR-gen


Good morning


Formally with an elder, a business contact, or someone you don’t know


Guten Abend/Abend


GOO-ten AH-bent/AH-bent


Good evening


Formally with an elder, a business contact, or someone you don’t know










Alles klar?




All’s well?




Was ist los?




What’s happening?




Wie läuft’s?


Vee LOW-ftz


What’s happening?




Wie geht es Ihnen


vee GATE ehs EE-nehn


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How are you?


Formally with an elder, a business contact, or someone you don’t know


Wie geht es dir?/Wie geht’s?


vee GATE ehs DEER/ vee GATES


How’s it going?












Was geht ab?


vahz GATE-ahb


What’s up?


















In Northern Germany, informally


Moin/Moin Moin






In Northern Germany, informally






Hello or goodbye


In Southern Germany and Austria


Grüß Gott/Grüß dich


GRUES goht/ GRUES deegh




In Southern Germany or Austria, formally 








In Switzerland, formally or informally








In Switzerland, informally






Hello or goodbye


In Switzerland, informally


So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Like saying hi in German, saying goodbye can take a lot of forms from playful to formal. 


The standard German to say goodbye is Auf Wiedersehen, which literally translates as ‘Until we meet again’). This is ideal for formal situations or, really, anything. It’s always good to have options, so here are a few more:


Tschüss / Tschüssi – a sweet, informal way to say goodbye to friends

Gute Nacht – Have a good night

Schönen Tag – Have a good day

Ciao / Tschau – Bye

Auf bald / bis bald – Bye for now / See you soon

Bis dann / bis denne / bis dennchen – Until then

Viel Spaß! – Have fun!


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Siddhi Ghale
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