Spanish 101: Greetings and Farewells
Have you ever tried to start a conversation with a native Spanish speaker but didn’t know how to do it?
That’s normal and just part of the struggles every new learner of the language has to go through.
Luckily, I’m here to help by introducing you to the most common and useful Spanish greetings and farewells.
Keep reading to learn why greetings are so important in Spanish, the main types of Spanish greetings, and—most importantly—how to use them.
Table of Contents:
Why Greetings in Spanish Matter
Greetings are a critical part of our conversations in any language. They are like a key that opens endless doors—and those doors are actually new people, new conversations, new connections.
However, Spanish greetings are particularly crucial, due to the importance given to personal relationships in this culture. If you’ve ever seen two Argentinians greet each other and compare that to how two Germans greet each other, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
The effusivity of the Latin greeting tells a lot about the importance given to it in the Spanish and Latin American cultures.
Just remember that in Spanish there are formal and informal “you” conjugations. Depending on the situation, you may have to use one or another. With this in mind, I specify which type of “you” is required in any given situation.
These are the greetings that open up conversations and shrink the distance between two people. As their name implies, these are the greetings that start a conversation.
Hola – Hello, hi
Hola is the most common Spanish greeting.
Although it’s considered informal by some, in reality you can say it to your best friend or to a complete stranger. It’s one of the best conversation starters in Spanish and it’s usually followed by one of the questioning greetings included below.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hello, how are you?
Buenos días – Good morning
Say buenos días from the early morning and all the way to noon. This basic phrase is more formal than a simple hola, but still can be used in informal contexts.
¡Buenos días vecino; disfrute su domingo!
Good morning neighbor; enjoy your Sunday!
Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
Use buenas tardes from noon to sunset, although between 6 pm and 8 pm different people would either say buenas tardes or buenas noches (good night) depending on the amount of daylight and country of origin.
Sadly, Spanish doesn’t have the equivalent of “good evening” that would solve this issue.
Buenas tardes, ¿me puede decir a qué hora llega el siguiente tren?
Good afternoon, can you tell me at what time the next train arrives?
Buenas noches – Good night
Use this phrase after sunset to greet someone. It also serves as a farewell. Like buenos días, it works in both formal and informal situations.
Buenas noches, me voy a dormir.
Good night, I’m going to sleep,
Also known as “checking-in greetings,” these are the questions you use in Spanish to “check” how the other person is. It’s a common way to express your interest in the other person in a polite way.
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
Arguably the most common questioning greeting in Spanish. ¿Cómo estás? usually comes after one of the initial greetings.
Although you’re asking about the other person’s mood and condition, an answer isn’t always expected. It’s an informal greeting, but if you change it just a little bit to ¿cómo está? it becomes a formal greeting.
Hola, ¿cómo estás?
Hi, how are you?
¿Qué tal? – How are you?
¿Qué tal? means pretty much the same thing as ¿cómo estás?, although you can add “how’s it going?” or “how are things?” as possible translations.
If anything, it’s more common to hear ¿qué tal? In Spain than in Latin America. Read this post about the differences between ¿qué tal? and ¿cómo estás?
Hola, ¿qué tal?
Hello, how’s it going?
¿Cómo te va? – How are you doing?
Here’s a list of questions that basically express the same idea as ¿cómo estás?.
¿Cómo te va? is one of the most popular ones.
SpanishEnglish¿qué haces?what are you up to?¿cómo va tu día?how is your day going?¿qué hay?what’s up?¿qué hay de nuevo?what’s new?¿qué pasa?what’s up?¿cómo va todo?how’s everything going?¿qué onda? (slang)what’s up?¿quiubo? (slang)what’s up?
When talking about Spanish greetings, it’s essential to consider goodbyes. They’re part of the same type of vocabulary you need to learn to master your conversations in Spanish.
Let’s take a look now at some of the most common farewells in Spanish.
SpanishEnglishadiósgoodbyenos vemos al ratosee you laternos estamos viendosee you aroundhasta luegosee you laterhasta mañanasee you tomorrowhasta prontosee you soonhasta la vistasee you soonchao (slang)byeque descansesrest upcuídatetake careque tenga un buen díahave a good day
Letter and Email Greetings
When writing a formal letter or a business email, you need to use a formal vocabulary and specific Spanish greetings. Here are some of the most common ones:
SpanishEnglishEstimado Señor/Señora/Señorita _____Dear Mr./Mrs/ Miss _____A quien correspondaTo whom it may concernReciba un cordial saludoI give you a warm greetingAtentamenteSincerelyUn cordial saludoCordial greetingsLe saludo atentamenteYours faithfullyUn saludo afectuosoWarm wishes
What do you say when you answer the phone in Spanish? If you aren’t sure, you’ll find the next table helpful.
Practice These Spanish Greetings and Improve Your Spanish
Learning these useful Spanish greetings will take your conversations to the next level and get you one step closer to achieving Spanish fluency. If you have kids or young students, show them this fun video about Spanish greetings for kids. Once you watch it, practice the greetings with them using strategies such as flashcards or singing a Spanish greetings song.
Remember that speaking Spanish has many benefits, including making traveling to Latin American countries easier and opening the door to better jobs.
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Ready to learn more Spanish vocabulary? Check these out!
Greetings and Farewells
Greetings in Spanish
In Spanish there are different ways of greeting and saying hello depending on the context of the situation, the time of day and who you are talking to. Some of the most common expressions are:
- Hola (informal)
– Hi. – For any time of day. This is the most common greeting in Spanish.
- Buenos días
– Good morning
- Buenas tardes
– Good afternoon
- Buenas noches
– Good evening / Good night
- Que tengas buenos días … (informal)
– Have a good day
- Que tenga (ud.) buenos días … (formal)
– Have a good day
- Que gusto de verte (informal)
– It’s nice to see you
- Que gusto de verlo (formal)
– I’m glad to see you
- Tanto tiempo sin verte
– Long time no see
Asking how someone is in Spanish
Normally the difference between a formal and informal greeting depends on the use of tú or usted. These are different ways of asking how someone is:
Remember for questions in Spanish we begin with an inverted question mark (¿)
- ¿Cómo estás (tú)? – informal
– How are you?
- ¿Cómo está Usted? – formal
– How are you?
- ¿Qué tal?
– What’s up?
- ¿Cómo has estado? – (se refiere a tu salud o eventos nuevos de tu vida privada)
– How have you been?
- ¿Cómo te ha ido?
– How’s everything been going?
- ¿Cómo te va? (informal)
– How’s it going?
- ¿Cómo le va? (formal)
– How are things going for you?
- ¿Cómo está(n) tu _____? hermano(s), novia, familia, padre(s), etc.
– How is (are) your brother(s), girlfriend, family, parents…
Asking people what they have been doing of late
These questions are asking about new things the other person has been doing recently (or since the last time you met):
- ¿Qué has hecho (últimamente)?
– What have you done (lately)?
- ¿Qué hay de nuevo?
– What’s new?
- ¿Qué (me) cuentas?
– What’s new? (literally: What can you tell me?)
These were the day to day greetings, now let’s look at the ones for special days and occasions
Greetings for Christmas, New Year and other celebrations
- Feliz año nuevo
– Happy New Year
- Próspero año nuevo
– Prosperous / Happy New Year
- Les deseamos una feliz navidad
– We wish you a merry Christmas
- Felices fiestas
– Happy celebrations
- Felices fiestas patrias
– Happy National day
- Quisiera desearles unas bonitas fiestas
– I would like to wish you a beautiful / wonderful celebration
- Que tengan unas bonitas fiestas
– Have a beautiful / wonderful celebration
- Feliz día de la madre
– Happy Mother’s day
- Feliz día del padre
– Happy Father’s day
- Feliz Santo (Santa)
– Happy Saint’s day
Birthday greetings in Spanish
- Nosotros te deseamos muchas / muchísimas felicidades en tu cumpleaños
– We wish you a lot of happiness on your birthday
- Con todo nuestro cariño para ti en este día especial
– With all of our affection for you on this special day
- Quisiera desearte muchas felicidades en tu día
– I would like to wish you much happiness on your day
- Que tengas un muy feliz cumpleaños
– Have a happy birthday
- Te deseo lo mejor en este día
– I wish you the best on this day
What to say in Spanish when someone is sick
- Que te mejores pronto
– Get well soon
- Que te recuperes pronto
– Get well / recover soon
- Le deseo una pronta recuperación (formal)
– I wish you a quick recovery.
Wishing someone good luck in Spanish
- ¡Que tengas suerte!
– Good luck!
- ¡Qué te vaya bien!
– Good luck (I hope everything goes well)
- Buena suerte en … tu(s) prueba, proyectos, universidad, etc.
– Good luck in … your test, project, university etc
- Te deseamos mucha suerte con …
– I wish you a lot of luck with ..
- Te deseamos lo mejor …
– I wish you the best …
- ¡Mejor suerte para la próxima vez!
– Better luck next time!
How to congratulate someone in Spanish
- ¡Muy bien!
– Very good
- ¡Qué bien!
- ¡Qué bien hecho!
– Well done!
- ¡Buen trabajo!
– Good work!
- ¡Felicidades por tu … (nuevo hijo, nuevo trabajo…)!
– Congratulations for your …
– Congratulations (when someone has just done something – passing an exam, getting a new job – also for the birth of a child or getting married)
Saying goodbye in Spanish
Farewells also depend on the context and the person you are speaking to.
– Goodbye / Bye
- Nos vemos
– See you
- Saludos a … tu mamá, papá, etc.
– Say hi to … your mum, dad etc
- Hasta pronto
– See you soon
- Hasta luego
– See you later / soon
- Hasta siempre
– A final goodbye, you will most likely not see each other again
- Hasta nunca
– Until never (as in, we’ll never see each other again, sometimes said when angry)
- Hasta mañana
– Until tomorrow
- Hasta la otra semana
– Until next week
- Hasta el próximo fin de semana
– Until next weekend
- Te veo luego
– See you soon
- ¡Cuídate! (very common en Chile)
– Take care
- Nos estamos viendo…
– We’ll see you around
How to begin a letter in Spanish
- De nuestra consideración (formal – impersonal)
– To whom it may concern
- Estimado señor (formal – for a man)
– Dear Sir (or Dear Mr… when it is followed by a surname)
- Estimada señora/señorita (formal – for a woman)
– Dear Madam (or Dear Mrs… when it is followed by a surname)
- Querido amigo
– Dearest Friend (a male friend)
- Querida amiga
– Dearest Friend (a female friend)
- Hola amigo / amiga
– Hi Mate, Hi friend
Ways of ending a letter in Spanish
- Saluda cordialmente a Ud. (formal)
– Yours faithfully
- Atentamente (formal)
– Yours truly
- Sinceramente (formal)
– Yours Sincerely
- Marta y yo les deseamos lo mejor (a ustedes)
– Marta and I wish you the best
- Déle mis saludos a… (persona indeterminada)
– Give my regards to …
- Esperando… tu respuesta/recibir tu respuesta/saber de ti.
– Waiting… for your reply/ to receive a reply/to hear from you
- Quedo a la espera de tu/su respuesta.
– I await your response
- Abrazos / Besos de parte de...
– Hugs / kisses from …
- Un saludo desde… (Chile, Londres… etc).
– Greetings from … (Hi or Bye from…)
- Con amor
– With love
- Con cariño
– With affection
- Escríbeme pronto
– Write soon
Try our interactive vocabulary game to practise: Greetings and Farewells in Spanish Game
You may want to check out our notes in Spanish about Saludos y Despedidas.
If you found this Spanish Vocabulary about Greetings and Farewells useful, let others know about it: