A warm hello can help set the right tone for any conversation, whether you’re greeting an acquaintance, a cashier, or an old friend. Warmth can only get you so far though—it’s equally important that your greeting matches the formality level of the interaction taking place. “What’s up?” is well-suited for a friendly encounter, but not as fitting at the start of a client meeting.
In Spanish, you can keep it formal with hola, un placer (it’s a pleasure to meet you) or keep things casual with ¿qué onda? (what’s up?). Of course, there are dozens of ways to customize your greetings and make your hello a noteworthy one.
Rosetta Stone Spanish can help you master greetings for every occasion, without the memorization. But if you’re eager to preview the many ways there are to say “hello” in Spanish, this comprehensive guide was built for you!
Jump ahead with the links below:
How to pronounce hola in Spanish
Hola is the most common way to say “hello” in Spanish. It’s pretty easy to remember, too, since the Spanish and English greetings look so similar!
It’s common for beginner speakers to pronounce the word with a hard “h” sound, as in “hula” or “herald.” In Spanish though, the “h” is almost always silent, unless it’s preceded by a “c.”
Check out the video below to hear how hola is pronounced by a native Spanish speaker. Plus, pick up a quintessential Nicaraguan greeting!
Common ways to say hello in Spanish
If you remember nothing else from this list, commit the phrases below to memory. Consider it your go-to list for striking up a conversation with anyone; each greeting is relatively neutral, so you won’t need to worry about sounding too buttoned up or too laidback.
|¿Cómo está?||How are you?|
|mucho gusto||it’s nice to meet you|
|buenos días||good morning|
|buenas tardes||good afternoon|
|buenas noches||good evening|
Casual ways to say hello in Spanish
When you’re around people you’re familiar with, lean into conversation with the following phrases. They’ll not only help you sound more like a native speaker, but they’re also fun to say. Remember that in casual settings, you’ll use the second person, singular pronoun, tú, when conjugating verbs and addressing others.
|¿Qué pasa?||What’s up?|
|¿Qué fue?||What’s up?|
|¿Qué onda?||What’s up?|
|¿Qué hay de nuevo?||What’s new?|
|¿Qué más?||What’s new?|
|¿Qué pasa?||What’s going on?|
|¿Cómo va todo?||How’s everything going?|
|¿En qué andas?||What are you up to?|
|¿Cómo van las cosas?||What’s shaking?|
Formal ways to say hello in Spanish
When it’s time to button things up, pull out any number of these phrases. You’ll notice that these phrases use the third person singular pronoun, usted, or third person plural pronoun, ustedes. When showing respect or addressing someone you aren’t familiar with, you’ll conjugate all verbs to match the third person.
The second person plural pronoun, vosotros, is also used, though it’s exclusively used in Spain. Usted and Ustedes are the formal pronouns of choice in every other Spanish-speaking country.
|Hola, ¿cómo está? (formal, singular)||Hello, how are you?|
|Hola, ¿cómo están? (formal, plural)||Hello, how are you?|
|Gusto en verlo. (formal, singular)||It’s nice to see you.|
|Gusto en verlos. (formal, plural)||It’s nice to see you.|
|Hola, un placer.||Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you.|
|Encantado/a||Delighted to meet you!|
Regional greetings in Spanish
Every Spanish-speaking region has several unique ways of saying hello. Take the example in the video below. In Venezuela, it’s common for friends to greet each other with both épale (hello) and háblame (talk to me). Use these phrases while traveling or to better connect with new friends in your community!
|Bien, ¿o qué?||Good, or what?||Colombia|
|¿Qué hubo?||What’s up?||Mexico|
|¿Qué onda, güey?||What’s up, dude?||Mexico|
|¿Qué tranza?||What’s going on?||Mexico|
|¿Cómo vamos?||How’s it going?||Nicaragua|
|¿Hola causa?||What’s up?||Peru|
|¿Cómo andas?||How’s it going?||Spain|
|háblame||talk to me||Venezuela|
Cultural tips on saying hello in Spanish
Similar to etiquette rules for French speakers, respecting correct pronoun usage is the most important thing you can do to ensure your greeting is well received. When speaking with someone you’ve only just met, you’ll want to use usted or ustedes (or vosotros, if you’re in Spain).
If they’re fine with using tú instead, they’ll let you know! It’s always better to be overly formal at the onset of a conversation rather than deal with the awkwardness of overstepping boundaries.
The preference for handshakes or besitos (air kisses) upon greeting are highly regional. For this, allow the person you’re meeting to initiate the gesture first. The more real-life conversations you have, the more quickly you’ll learn!
Master the entire conversation in Spanish
Who knew there were so many ways to say hello in Spanish? Commit a couple to memory, and practice incorporating new ones into each conversation. You’ll be surprised at how impressed native speakers will be when you break out a regional phrase like épale!
Knowing how to say hello, though, can only get you so far. Rosetta Stone Spanish can help you learn faster and more effectively than if you try tackling Spanish on your own. With Dynamic Immersion, you’ll learn language naturally by pairing text and audio from native speakers with images. Plus, TruAccent gives you instant feedback on how you sound—so you can perfect your pronunciation from your very first lesson!
Start your first lesson today at www.rosettastone.com.