The most useful word in a language to get you started is hello. From saying hello, any conversation or exchange become possible.
It’s always a good idea to learn how to say hello, please, thank you and goodbye in different languages, especially if you are going on holiday to that country.
Here are twenty different ways to say hello in twenty languages.
Twenty different ways to say hello
How to greet someone: In Spain, it is the custom to kiss people twice, once on each cheek. The Spanish are usually very warm and welcoming when they greet someone and physical contact may be a lot more common than in northern European countries. Men will shake hands with each other unless they know each other well and then a handshake is common.
Hello: Bonjour, salut
How to greet someone: In France, it’s common to kiss on the cheek, even men with other men. But with strangers, a handshake is more common.
Hello: Guten tag, hallo
How to greet someone: In Germany, it is very common to offer someone a handshake when you meet them. If it’s a close acquaintance or friend then a hug is common.
Hello: Привет (Privet)
How to greet someone: Shaking hands is very common in Russian but it is bad luck to shake hands over a threshold. Instead you should enter the house first and then shake hands.
Hello: 你好 ni hao
How to greet someone: Although traditionally a bow or nod of the head was used in China, shaking hands is becomming much more common. It is also good form to introduce yourself to the most senior person in the room first and work your way down as a sign of respect.
Hello: こんにちは (Kon’nichiwa)
How to greet someone: Bowing is still very common in Japanese culture and is a typical way to greet someone. If you’re meeting them for the first time it’s also very common to give them your business card and to receive theirs. Make sure you take their business card with both hands and handle it with care as it is seen as an extension of themselves.
Hello: Hallo, dag
How to greet someone: Shaking hands is the most common way to greet someone in the Netherlands and is also a common way of saying goodbye. And if you have been at an event it is very important to thank the host when you arrive and leave.
Hello: Halo, salam
How to greet someone: In Indonesia, shaking someone’s hand is also very common. It is also important to smile when you are greeting someone.
Hello: สวัสดี (S̄wạs̄dī)
How to greet someone: If you are a westerner then it is typical to shake hands with a man in Thailand but nod and smile at a woman. Thais offer each other a wai gesture when they greet each other and although you do not need to worry about initiating this, you should reply with the same gesture if someone makes it.
How to greet someone: In Italy, it is very common to kiss each other on the cheek when you meet someone but if it’s in a formal setting then the handshake is also very common.
How to greet someone: Women kiss each other twice on the cheeks and men will often greet each other with a hug and handshake. If it is someone you don’t know very well then a firm handshake is fine accompanied by eye contact.
Hello: dzień dobry
How to greet someone: It is not as common to smile so much in Poland as it is in the USA, so you don’t need to worry if someone seems a bit cool with you when they greet you. The greeting is normally quite reserved and a handshake is common with eye contact. It is also more usual to shake hands with the women present before the men. And older people are greeted before younger people.
How to greet someone: In the USA it’s normally common to wait for a mutual friend to introduce you to someone but in Sweden it’s more common for you to step up and introduce yourself rather than waiting to be introduced. Stick out your hand, maintain eye contact and introduce yourself. After that you’re good to go.
How to greet someone: In Denmark a handshake is a very common method of greeting someone. Punctuality is also very important so if you’ve been invited to someone’s house and you’re going to be late you should ring ahead and let them know.
How to greet someone: When you greet someone in Finland, it is common to give them a firm and brief handshake while maintaining eye contact. Kissing someone on the cheeks is a lot less common.
How to greet someone: In Saudi Arabia, men shake hands and kiss each other on the cheek. The handshake is also normally longer than a typical western handshake. Women are not likely to hug or kiss each other but men and women do not greet each other in public unless they are family.
Hello: xin chào
How to greet someone: In Vietnam it is more common to shake someones hand with both hands when you greet them. It is also seen polite to bow your head slightly when greeting them and to smile. If an elderly person does not extend their hand to you then don’t worry, instead just bow your head and smile while you introduce yourself.
Hello: नमस्ते (namaste)
How to greet someone: When men meet each other and say goodbye they often shake hands but men do not shake hands with women and women rarely shake hands with other women outside of a business context. Indians also tend to care about personal space and it is seen as polite to maintain an arms length distance between you and another person.
How to greet someone: With people you don’t know a firm handshake and eye contact is fine but women kiss each other on the cheeks when they are acquainted with the person.
Hello: Здрастуйте (Zdrastuyte)
How to greet someone: Again, just like so many other cultures a handshake and eye contact is an appropriate way to greet someone. When women greet someone they know then it is typical to kiss them three times of the cheek. Similar to Russian culture, smiling is not as common in Ukraine as it is in the USA or in the UK. Therefore, don’t be put off if they do not smile when they meet you. It is seen as a sign of fakeness to smile when you have nothing to smile about.
Now you have twenty different languages to say hello to people and twenty different greetings, get out there and make some international friends!