Whether you are a complete beginner or already have some German under your belt, it's undeniable that learning your greetings is mandatory to being able to converse. This article will introduce you to the nuances of greetings in German, from a very basic "Hallo!" to regional variations on greetings and how you can sound like a native speaker in any situation.
Easy German, Rich German
You may be thinking,
“Why do I have to learn many ways to greet someone when all I need is Hallo?!”
While "Hallo" is indeed a powerful word, and all German people are using it as an everyday casual greeting, there are two reasons you have to learn additional German greetings:
- Others may be inclined to greet you in a different way and you must respond accordingly. Nothing is more embarassing than blanking out after a simple "Guten Morgen!".
- The second reason that the German language is a rich language, this helps you not to get bored, so it gives you the opportunity to say a lot of words with the same meaning.
We put most of the German greetings that can come up to you, and we have categorized them into different sections, we also put audio examples for each to help you in pronouncing. Every greeting you will meet here will be available with its meaning and pronounce, so all you have to do is practice them and you'll sound native in no time.
If you want to improve your pronunciation quickly, try practicing them on Speechling, where you can get free pronunciation feedback on your greetings.
Pronunciation: /ˈɡuːtən ˈmɔʁɡŋ/, /ˈɡuːtən ˈmɔʁɡən/ (IPA) Example Pronunciation
It means Good morning. It is a formal phrase to use in the morning when you see someone. You noticed of course that Morgen is looking similar to the phrase "good morning" in English.
It is a formal phrase that can be used instead of "Hallo" because "Hallo" is an informal phrase that can’t be used in certain formal situations.
For a more informal phrase, look to say the following instead.
Pronunciation: /ˈmɔʁɡən/, /ˈmɔɐ̯ɡŋ̩/ Example Pronunciation
It also means good morning but in an informal way. You can use it with friends in the morning. You can see that it is the half of the previous phrase “Guten Morgen,” so you can pronounce it easily because you have already learned the phrase.
Pronounciation: /ˌɡuːtn̩ ˈtaːk/ Example Pronunciation
While "Guten Morgen" can be used in the morning for formal settings only, "Guten Tag" can be used during any time of the day (post-noon). Like "Guten Morgen", it is used only in formal situations. It is similar to "Good Afternoon" in English, though not necessarily used in the afternoon.
Pronounciation:/taːk/ Example Pronunciation
It is the informal way of saying "Guten Tag!" You can use it during the daytime.
You can use
for the same purpose.
Pronounciation: /ˌɡuːtn̩ ˈæbɛnd/ Example Pronunciation
It means "Good Evening" in a formal way. For a more informal situation, consider
for the same meaning. They are the shortened and more casual versions of "Guten Abend!".
Most Common Casual Greetings
Pronounciation: /ˈhaloː/, /haˈloː/ Example Pronunciation
Hallo has a prominent spot in the hearts of the German people. It's the most commonly taught greeting. Use it as much as you can; they don't get bored of it.
Pronounciation: /ɡʀuːs dɪç/ Example Pronunciation
This Greeting means "I greet you" and it must be used when you know well the person you are talking to.
It's the same Hi's meaning in English. It's a greeting used when you meet your friends or for someone who you just met at your age.
It is pronounced like "Hey" in English. But it has three meanings; the first is used to answer "Hei!", the second is to say "Hello, here I am," the third is used to say "what's wrong?".
Pronounciation: /mɔːɪn/, /mɔːɪŋ/ Example Pronunciation
It means "Hallo!" also. It is used in northern Germany at all the daytimes; it is not used only in the morning time.
Fun fact: Residents of southern Germany have thought that Moin means morning and they have got confused when someone uses it in the afternoon for example.
Pronounciation: /ɡʀuːs ɡɔt/ Example Pronunciation
It is the most common greeting in Southern Germany. It means "May God greet you." It can be used throughout the day.
Pronounciation:/ˈzɛɐ̯vus/ Example Pronunciation
Like the previous greeting, "Servus!" is also a friendly greeting in Southern Germany.
And there's more!
While this is an introductory list of the common greetings in Germany, including regional variations, don't be fooled into thinking that it is a comprehensive list.
You are bound to come across many more in your language learning journey. Practicing the above, however, will make you head and shoulders above the average students when it comes to German greetings.