10 ways to say hello in Swiss German
Published on September 8, 2023
Getting ready for your next stay in Switzerland? In order to make the most of your experience, it will definitely help you to know some Swiss German, which is the most widely used language in Switzerland. Whether you’re out with friends for delicious Swiss food or want to greet fellow hikers on a narrow mountain path, a good old “hello” will always come in handy.
But how to say hello in Swiss German depends on the setting and circumstances. For example, if you are working in Switzerland, you will greet your boss more formally than you would greet your friends. To prepare you for every possible situation you find yourself in during your stay in the land of chocolate and mountains, we have prepared ten Swiss German greetings for you.
Grüezi is a formal greeting in Swiss German. You can use it to greet your boss when you enter the office in the morning, or when you meet someone for the first time in a more formal setting. If there is more than one person you would like to address, use Grüezi mitenand, which translates to “Hello everyone.”
While Grüezi is used in most parts of Central Switzerland (Zentralschweiz), some cantons use variations of the word with the same meaning. If you visit Bern, you will likely hear the word Grüessech, whereas locals in Basel often exchange the “ü” for an “i” and greet you with Griezi.
Hallo is a standard greeting throughout the German-speaking world. It is frequently used in Swiss German in formal settings as a replacement for Grüezi. No one will give you a strange look for using it, even though it’s much more common inStandard German than it is in Swiss German.
You might have already guessed it from the sound, but Hoi is the Swiss German version of a casual “Hi.” Just like its English counterpart, you would use it informally with friends and younger people. If you keep your ears open while wandering around, you will hear it everywhere.
If you would like to address a group of friends, add zäme. It’s the same principle as with adding mitenand to Grüezi. Hoi zäme can be translated to “Hi, everyone.”
Switzerland is a country with four official languages, and these languages tend to influence each other due to their close proximity. Salü is an informal Swiss German greeting derived from the French word Salut. You will not hear a difference between the two; they are differentiated only by their spelling.
If you want to address a group of people in an informal setting, use Salü zäme.
While Salü is mostly used as a Swiss German greeting in the Bern region, locals in the northern cantons of Switzerland will more likely use Sali or Sali zäme to greet their friends.
If you want to say hello to your friends in Zürich or Aargau, you can also use Tschau (or, if it’s multiple people, Tschau zäme). While Salü and Sali reflect the French influence on Swiss German, Tschau originates from the Italian word Ciao.
Guete Daag translates to “Good day” and can be used in either informal or formal settings. Locals in Basel, Solothurn, Valais and Fribourg pronounce it Daag (with a “d”), while those in the eastern and central parts of Switzerland pronounce it Tag (with a “t”).
Tag Wohl is used like Guete Daag in the region around Valais. You can use it in informal and formal settings.
Guete Morge, as you may have guessed, translates to “Good morning” in English. As Swiss German is not a standardized language, but rather a conglomeration of different Swiss German dialects, you will probably find that some cantons will pronounce “Guete” differently. The meaning stays the same and the word can be used in informal and formal settings.
Guete Morge is used until noon. After that, use Guete Namittag for “Good afternoon” and Guete Abig for “Good evening.”
If you were wondering how to continue a conversation after Sali or Grüezi, ask your friends Wie gaats dir? to show that you care about them. The phrase translates to “How are you?” and is the ultimate conversation starter. The formal version is Wie gaats Ine?, “Ine” meaning the polite form of “you” in English.
Whatever you’re up to in Switzerland, saying hello to others is an essential part of communicating. The way you greet someone always depends on the setting. You might use a polite Grüezi when you’re applying for a Swiss social security number with your healthcare provider, or you might opt for a more casual Hoi when you’re out with friends. If you want to start your journey of learning Swiss German, knowing the most important greeting forms is a great first step.