How to say hello in Spanish

How to say hello in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated July 14, 2022

In English, we have many ways to say hello to someone. Spanish is no different. If you are just starting your Spanish language journey or planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, learning the different ways to say hello and greet people is a perfect place to start. 

This article will discuss how to say hello in Spanish and how to greet people in formal and informal situations. 

How do you say hello in Spanish? 

Greeting people is very important in any culture. Many of us know that hola is one way we can say hello in Spanish (0:00-0:18). Just remember that the h is silent in Spanish

Here are some additional basic ways to say hello in Spanish:

Hola, buenos días. Hello, good morning. 

Hola, ¿cómo estás? Hello, how are you? 

Hola, mucho gusto. Hello, nice to meet you. 

In many Spanish-speaking countries it is customary to say hello and greet absolutely everyone in the room individually. The same ritual takes place during the despedida (goodbye). The greeting and goodbye may include one or two besos (kisses) on the cheek. 

Here is a video showing different physical greetings in countries around the world. Pay attention to the single air kiss common in most of Latin America (0.59-1:04)

How to say hello in Spanish in formal and informal situations

The way you say hello to your boss or to your bestie will be a little different. Let’s take a look at saying hello in Spanish in a few different situations. 

Formal situations:

SpanishEnglish
Hola, ¿cómo está usted?Hello, how are you? This is the formal way to greet someone or to greet someone respectfully.
Hola, es un placer. Hello, it is a pleasure (to meet you).
Encantado / Encantada.Delighted (to meet you). There are masculine and feminine adjectives and nouns.  
Buenos días Señor / Señora. Good morning Sir / Ma’am. 

Informal or casual situations with friends:

SpanishEnglish
¿Qué onda?What’s up?
¿Qué pasa?What’s going on? 
¿Qué tal?How are you? 
¿Cómo te va?How’s it going (for you)? 
Holi.Hi / hello / hey.
Hola hola.Hi hi. 
Hola a todos.Hello everyone. 
Hola, mi amor. Hello, my love. In many countries it is common to call friends and boyfriends and girlfriends my love. 
Hola, hermoso. Hola, hermosa.Hello handsome. Hello beautiful. Generally used with people who are dating. 

What are different ways to greet someone in Spanish?

Each situation and country has different ways of saying hello. People in Spanish-speaking countries are often thought of as friendly and inviting people so you will want to learn how to greet people in different situations. You want to be known as friendly and inviting too!

Buenos días is how we say good morning in Spanish. But once the clock strikes 12:00 PM be prepared with buenas tardes (good afternoon). Later in the day when it starts to become dark you want to use buenas noches (good evening / good night).  

Different countries have their own unique ways of saying hello. Most of these should be used with close friends. When in doubt, stick with the formal greetings above. 

CountrySpanish GreetingEnglish
Colombia¿Quiubo/Qué hubo?What’s up?
Colombia¿Qué más pues?What else is new?
Mexico¿Qué onda, güey?What’s up, dude?
Mexico¡Güey!You will hear this frequently in Mexico between friends. Dude! 
SpainHola, tío. Hola, tía. Hey dude. 
Spain¿Qué te cuentas? What’s new?
Venezuela¡Épale!Hello!
Venezuela¿Qué hubo, compadre?What’s up, comrade?

From hello to hola and much more!

Saying hello to everyone in social, family and work situations is an important part of your Spanish language skills. Once you learn some different greetings you will easily move from hola (hello) to ¿Qué onda, güey? (What’s up, dude?). If you meet that special someone you’ll be using hola, mi amor (hello, my love) or hola, hermosa o hermoso (hello, handsome or beautiful). Have fun and listen to how the locals greet each other.


Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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