How to say hello in 50 different languages

November 10, 2023

Sometimes, a simple “hello” is all it takes to start a conversation. Of course, you’ll need a little more to talk shop at work or debate politics, but as any world traveller knows, a friendly hello can go a long way.

According to SIL International’s Ethnologue, there are as many as 7,111 languages spoken in the world today. 

Roughly 40% of those languages are endangered, with less than 1000 speakers remaining. Meanwhile, just 23 languages account for half of the world’s primary spoken languages. 

Today, we’ll be looking at how to say hello in 50 of the most spoken languages in the world

Discover how to say “hello” in 50 common languages

For the purposes of this list, though there are diasporic communities worldwide speaking many different languages, “spoken in” broadly refers to countries where the language is an official or national language, where it is spoken by the majority of the population, or where the majority of speakers of the language live. “Spoken by” refers to the number of first language speakers as of most recent data.

1. Amharic

Spoken in: Ethiopia

Spoken by: 21.9 million

Say hello: Tena yistilign (formal), Selam (informal)

2. Arabic

Spoken in: Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Somalia, Chad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Eritrea, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, Mauritania, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Tanzania (Zanzibar), Djibouti, Comoros

Spoken by: 420 million, across roughly 30 different dialects

Say hello: Marhabaan (formal) or Ahlan (informal)

3. Azerbaijani

Spoken in: Azerbaijan, Russia

Spoken by: 13.8 million

Say hello: Salam

4. Bengali

Spoken in: Bangladesh, India

Spoken by: 228 million

Say hello: নমস্কার Namaskar (for Hindus), আসসালামু আলাইকুম Asalaam alaikum (for Muslims), হ্যালো Hello or হাই Hi (informal)

5. Burmese

Spoken in: Myanmar

Spoken by: 32.9 million

Say hello: မင်္ဂလာပါ Mingalarba

6. Chinese

Spoken in: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore

Spoken by: 1,117 million

Say hello:  你好 (nǐ hǎo) 

7. Czech

Spoken in: Czech Republic

Spoken by: 10.7 million

Say hello: Dobrý den (formal), Ahoj (informal)

8. Dutch

Spoken in: Belgium, The Netherlands, Suriname

Spoken by: 23.1 million

Say hello: Hoi (hi), Hallo (hello)

9. English

Spoken in: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Cook Islands, Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, The United Kingdom, The United States of America

Spoken by: 379 million

Say hello: Hello (formal), Hi (informal), What’s up? (very informal)

10. French

Spoken in: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, Vanuatu

Spoken by: 77.2 million

Say hello: Bonjour (formal), Salut (informal)

Learn more: French Greetings: 22 Must-Know Ways to Say Hello & Goodbye

11. German

Spoken in: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland

Spoken by: 132 million

Say hello: Guten Tag (formal), Hallo (informal) – as with most other languages, the list of German greetings is endless!

12. Greek

Spoken in: Greece, Cyprus

Spoken by: 13.1 million

Say hello: Γεια σας Yasass (formal – plural), Γεια σου Yassou (informal – singular)

13. Hausa

Spoken in: Niger, Nigeria, Ghana

Spoken by: 43.9 million

Say hello: Salama alaikum (formal), Sannu (informal)

14. Hindi (Sanskritised Hindustani)

Spoken in: India

Spoken by: 341 million

Say hello: Namaste

15. Hungarian

Spoken in: Hungary, Vojvodina (Serbia)

Spoken by: 12.6 million

Say hello: Jó napot (formal), Szia (informal) or Sziasztok (informal plural)

16. Igbo

Spoken in: Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea

Spoken by: 27 million

Say hello: Ndeewo (formal), Kedu (informal)

17. Italian

Spoken in: Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City

Spoken by: 64.8 million

Say hello: Buongiorno (Good day), Salve (formal), Ciao (informal)

18. Japanese

Spoken in: Japan, Palau

Spoken by: 128 million

Say hello: こんにちは “Konnichiwa”

Learn more: 18 Ways to Say Hello in Japanese Like a Native Speaker

19. Kannada

Spoken in: India

Spoken by: 43.6 million

Say hello: Namaste, Namaskara

20. Kazakh

Spoken in: Kazakhstan, Russia, People’s Republic of China

Spoken by: 12.9 million

Say hello: Сәлеметсіз бе Sälemetsiz be (formal), Сәлем Sälem (informal)

21. Kinyarwanda

Spoken in: Rwanda, Burundi

Spoken by: 12.1 million

Say hello: Salama (peace), Muraho (formal)

22. Korean

Spoken in: South Korea, North Korea, People’s Republic of China

Spoken by: 77.3 million

Say hello: 안녕하세요 Annyeonghaseyo (formal), 안녕 Annyeong (informal)

23. Kurdish (Northern Kurdish)

Spoken in: Kurdistan Region (Iraq), Rojava (Syria)

Spoken by: 14.6 million

Say hello: Merheba, Silav

24. Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian)

Spoken in: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

Spoken by: 77 million

Say hello: Selamat (shortened version of time-of-day greetings), Halo (neutral), Hai (informal)

25. Malayalam

Spoken in: India

Spoken by: 37.1 million

Say hello: Hello (formal), Hai (informal), Namaskaram (general greeting)

26. Mandarin Chinese

Spoken in: People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Singapore, Myanmar

Spoken by: 918 million

Say hello: 你好 Nǐ hǎo

27. Nepali

Spoken in: Nepal, India

Spoken by: 15.8 million

Say hello: Namaste

28. Nigerian Fulfulde

Spoken in: Nigeria, minority language across 20 countries in West and Central Africa

Spoken by: 14.5 million

Say hello: Salaamu Aleykum (formal), Sannu or Sannuko (informal)

29. Pashto

Spoken in: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Spoken by: 20.9 million

Say hello: السلام عليکم “Aslam o alekum” (peace be upon you), حالله “hallo” (informal)

30. Persian (Iranian Persian or Farsi)

Spoken in: Iran

Spoken by: 52.8 million

Say hello: Salâm (Arabic origin), Dorud (Persian origin)

31. Polish

Spoken in: Poland

Spoken by: 39.7 million

Say hello: Dzień dobry (Good day), Cześć (informal)

32. Portuguese

Spoken in: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé, Príncipe

Spoken by: 221 million

Say hello: Bom dia (Good day), Olá (hello), Oi (hi)

33. Punjabi

Spoken in: India

Spoken by: 125.3 million

Say hello: Sat sri akal ji (formal), Sat sri akal (informal)

34. Romanian

Spoken in: Romania, Moldova, Vojvodina (Serbia)

Spoken by: 24.3 million

Say hello: Salut 

35. Russian

Spoken in: Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan 

Spoken by: 154 million

Say hello: Здравствуйте “Zdravstvuyte” (formal), Привет “Privet” (hello), Здорово “Zdarova” (hi)

36. Sinhala

Spoken in: Sri Lanka

Spoken by: 15.3 million

Say hello: ආයුබෝවන් Ayubovan (formal), හලෝ Halo (informal)

37. Spanish

Spoken in: Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea

Spoken by: 480 million

Say hello: Hola

Learn more: Spanish greetings 101: Useful phrases and examples

38. Tagalog

Spoken in: Philippines

Spoken by: 23.6 million

Say hello: Kumusta

39. Tamil

Spoken in: Sri Lanka, Singapore, India

Spoken by: 75 million

Say hello: Vaṇakkam

40. Telugu

Spoken in: India

Spoken by: 82 million

Say hello: Namaskaram

41. Thai

Spoken in: Thailand

Spoken by: 20.7 million

Say hello: Sawatdee ka or Sawatdee krap – the ending is used by female speakers, krap by males. Sawatdee on its own is “hello” and the ending makes it polite, but you’ll rarely hear it used without the polite ending in Thailand.

42. Turkish

Spoken in: Turkey, Northern Cyprus, Cyprus

Spoken by: 79.4 million

Say hello: Merhaba (formal), Selam (informal)

43. Ukrainian

Spoken in: Ukraine

Spoken by: 27.3 million

Say hello: Dobriy den (formal), Pryvit (informal)

44. Urdu (Persianised Hindustani)

Spoken in: Pakistan, India

Spoken by: 68.6 million

Say hello: Assalam u alaikum (formal), Salam (informal)

45. Uzbek

Spoken in: Uzbekistan

Spoken by: 25.1 million

Say hello: Assalomu alaykum (formal), Salom (informal)

46. Vietnamese

Spoken in: Vietnam

Spoken by: 76 million

Say hello: Xin chào

47. Wu Chinese (Shanghainese)

Spoken in: City of Shanghai and surrounding provinces (China)

Spoken by: 81.4 million

Say hello: 侬好 “Nóng hō”

48. Yoruba

Spoken in: Nigeria, Benin, Togo

Spoken by: 37.8 million

Say hello: Ayọ

49. Yue Chinese (Cantonese)

Spoken in: Hong Kong, Macau

Spoken by: 73.1 million

Say hello: Néih hóu

50. Zulu

Spoken in: South Africa

Spoken by: 12.1 million

Say hello: Sawubona

And there you have it! Now you can say hi in 50 different languages. 

Saying hello, whether it’s in Polish, Arabic, French, or Korean, is a wonderful way to connect, even when you don’t speak the language. 

But, for an even deeper connection, you might want to learn a few more phrases. There are so many amazing benefits to learning a language!

If you’re ready to start learning a new language today, click below to get started with Busuu. 

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