How to say hello in German like a native speaker: 20 formal and slang greetings

November 10, 2023

Hallo! Whether you’re meeting someone for business or pleasure, learning how to say hello in German can make an instant connection. 

Whether you’ve been learning German for a while or you’re just getting started, most greetings are short and—dare we say—cute.

This guide will help you find the best greeting for every situation from seeing a friend to meeting your new boss. We’ll also cover what to say at different times of day and localized greetings for anywhere you end up.

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 basic ways to say hello. 

  1. 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.

  1. Guten Morgen means good morning, with Guten meaning good and Morgen meaning morning.
  2. Guten Tag means good day and is generally used from midday until about 6 p.m.
  3. Guten Abend means good evening and is used starting at about 6 p.m.
  4. 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 slang greetings

Roll up your sleeves if you like to impress your friends with vernacular, because there are lots of ways to say hello casually in German. 

  1. 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! 

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

  1. Huhu (Hoo-hoo!) If Huhu were a scenario, it’d be your annoying neighbour 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.

  1. 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?”.

  1. Was ist los? means ‘what’s happening?’ or ‘what’s new?’ and is a good way to greet a friend. 
  2. Wie läuft’s? is another way to ask ‘what’s happening?’ that literally translates to ‘what’s running?’.
  3. & 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!

  1. Na Another German favourite 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!

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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

  1. Tachchen is a cute and casual Northern German way to say hi.
  2. 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. 

Southern Germany and Austria

  1. 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.
  2. 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’). 


  1. & 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 and Tschau, a twist on the Italian Ciao
  2. Grüezi or Griezi (specific to Basel) are the most common ways to say hi and 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

20 Ways to say hello in German


How to pronounce it


How to use it




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

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 ‘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 – 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!

Now that you’ve learned all the ways to say hello, put your knowledge into practice. Saying hi to a German-speaking friend or stranger is the first step to building connections, whether you’re travelling or living abroad.

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