Hola was in fact borrowed from the English language expression ‘hello’. It is likely to be the most common Spanish word known by non-Spanish speakers, along with cerveza (beer) and amigo (friend).
In any case, hola scores really high at the top of the popular “Spanish phrases chart”, but there are many ways to introduce yourself say ‘hello’ in Spanish!
It is true that films and TV programs generally portray Spanish speakers greeting each other with that simple word.
However, despite hola being grammatically correct and widely used, there are plenty more expressions that you could learn to improve your Spanish language skills.
Have a look at the following unique set of greetings that are applied in particular life circumstances. Utilizing Spanish greetings correctly will surely give you bonus points as a tourist or when negotiating a business deal.
After all, this shows respect for the locals and it honors the cultural and linguistic background of that individual community.
As mentioned before, a humble hola is a show of courtesy and grace. It is easy and anyone can say it. But then again, it can come across a bit dry and boring — like, isn’t there something else to say?
You do not want to sound like a voice-activated robot, right? So, in addition to your one-word Spanish salutation, your speech intonation can express emotion and provide context to the conversation.
In written communication, question and exclamation marks state the precise intention of the writer.
This works similar to the written English language; nonetheless, Spanish spelling rules call for double marks in both cases:
Elementary manners include greetings which adequate to the time of the day:
|Good morning||Buenos días|
|Good afternoon||Buenas tardes|
|Good evening||Buenas noches|
These could be used to address strangers and people that you already know. To add formality you could place a proper noun at the end of the greeting:
|Good morning, Sir||Buenos días, Señor|
|Good morning, Madam||Buenos días, Señora|
Informal Spanish Greetings:
Like in any other language there are casual ways of greeting someone who is close to you.
|What’s up?||¿Qué hay?|
|What do you say?||¿Qué dices?|
|How are you?||¿Cómo estás?|
|How’ve you been?||¿Cómo has estado?|
The following Spanish expressions are a sign of intimacy and confidence — a way of saying ‘Hi, I really care about you, please tell me about what has been going on in your life’.
They don’t have literal translations but will show you what the speaker means by using them in his or her speech.
|What have I missed in your life?||¿Qué me cuentas?|
|What’s it been like for you?||¿Cómo te ha ido?|
|What’s good and new?||¿Qué hay de nuevo?|
|Tell me everything!||¡Cuéntamelo todo!|
These are used when you haven’t seen somebody in ages but you are thrilled to meet again.
|It’s so wonderful to see you!||¡Qué gusto verte!|
|I am so happy to see you!||¡Qué alegría verte!|
|It’s been a long time!||¡Cuánto tiempo!|
|What a miracle this is!||¡Qué milagro!|
|It’s a miracle to see you!||¡Milagrazo verte!|
|I can’t believe it!||¡No me lo creo!|
|I haven’t seen you for years!||Hace años que no te veía.|
|I didn’t expect to find you around here!||No esperaba encontrarte por aquí.|
|What are you doing here?||¿Qué haces aquí?|
If you are in an official ceremony or a professional environment, even if you are introduced to someone for the first time and you want to use proper Spanish, you can deploy any of the phrases below to sound polite and correct.
|Nice to meet you||Encantado/Encantada de conocerte|
|It’s a pleasure to meet you||Es un placer conocerte|
|It’s a pleasure to see you||Es un placer verte|
Observe that when translating ‘Nice to meet you’ to Spanish you have to apply the feminine and masculine rule.
If you are a man, you would say Encantado de conocerte. If you are a woman you would say Encantada de conocerte.
It is also imperative to note that there are two forms for the pronoun ‘you’: tú and usted. This turns into two different ways to addressing to people.
It is common to employ usted (which is a formal voice) for the elderly and those who offer you public services.
|ENGLISH||SPANISH – USTED|
|Nice to meet you||Encantado/Encantada de conocerle|
|It’s a pleasure to meet you||Es un placer conocerle|
|It’s a pleasure to see you||Es un placer verle|
If you would like to flatter someone, you could say:
|ENGLISH||SPANISH – TÚ/USTED|
|I’ve heard many things about you||He escuchado mucho de ti/usted|
|They’ve told me about you||Me han hablado mucho de ti/usted|
|I was looking forward to meeting you||Ya tenía ganas de conocerte /conocerle|
Spanish is a colorful language and there is a lingo used by the young, among really close friends, and even in the slums and the districts with lesser development opportunities.
However, be mindful of how you apply these expressions as some of them are used in literature, films, and soap operas to portray characters who have received poor education and lack of refinement.
In many Spanish speaking countries, the social custom of offering a small kiss on the cheek to greet someone still holds, even when you are being introduced for the first time!
In México, it is only one kiss that is given but in Spain there are usually two, one for each side. However, things are changing and you may not want to smack one on a stranger.
If you are unsure about the kissing tradition just offer a firm handshake and an honest smile.
To learn the greeting habits and other social behaviors of Spanish speaking territories it is best to take lessons from a Native speaker teacher.
Reading a Spanish newspaper is another great way to familiarize yourself with Spanish greetings.
Live Lingua offers one-to-one lessons with Spanish teachers from far and wide. There are teachers from Spain, as well as Latina American countries including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Argentina, among others.
So wherever you’re off to, or whichever accent you wish to emulate we have you covered and being native your teacher will also be able to sprinkle your Spanish lessons with some key cultural assets.
|GOOD MANNERS – BUENOS MODALES|
|Good morning||Buenos días|
|Good afternoon||Buenas tardes|
|Good night||Buenas noches|
|You´re welcome||De nada|
|GREETINGS – SALUDOS|
|What´s up?||¿Qué onda?|
|Pleased to meet you||Es un placer conocerte|
|It´s nice to meet you||Me da mucho gusto conocerte|
|I have heard many things about you||He escuchado mucho de ti|
|How are you?||¿Cómo estás?|
|How have you been?||¿Cómo has estado?|
|What you´ve been up to?||¿Qué me cuentas?|
|How is everything going?||¿Cómo va todo?|
|I haven´t seen you for ages||No te he visto en años|
|USEFULE REPLIES – RESPUESTAS ÚTILES|
|Fine thank you, and you?||Muy bien gracias ¿y tú?|
|Not bad, and you?||Todo bien ¿y tú?|
|I have been unwell||No me he sentido muy bien|
|Nothing interesting||Nada interesante|
|I don´t know||No lo sé|
|I´d rather not say||Prefiero no decirlo|
|FORMAL SPANISH GREETINGS – SALUDOS FORMALES (USTED)|
|How do you do?||Mucho gusto|
|How are you?||¿Cómo está?|
|How have you been?||¿Cómo le ha ido?|
|It´s nice to meet you||Me da mucho gusto conocerlo/conocerla|
|I have heard many things about you||He escuchado mucho de usted|
|Fine thank you, and you?||Muy bien gracias ¿y usted?|
|ON THE PHONE – LLAMADAS TELEFÓNICAS|
|Who is speaking?||¿Quién habla?|
|Is John in?||¿Se encuentra Juan?|
|Would you like to leave a message?||¿Quiere dejar un recado?|
|Can you please call later?||¿Gusta llamar más tarde?|
|May I leave a message?||¿Puedo dejar un mensaje?|
|GOODBYES – DESPEDIDAS|
|See you later||Nos vemos al rato|
|See you tomorrow||Nos vemos mañana|
|Good luck!||Buena suerte|
|Have a good journey!||Buen viaje/Buen camino|
|OPEN QUESTIONS – PREGUNTAS ABIERTAS|
|What do you think?||¿Qué opinas?|
|Do you like it?||¿Te gusta?|
|What do you say?||¿Tú qué dices?|
|Do you agree?||¿Estás de acuerdo?|
|BASIC CONVERSATION IN SPANISH – CONVERSACIÓN BÁSICA EN ESPAÑOL|
|What is your name?||¿Cómo te llamas?|
|My name is||Mi nombre es…|
|What is your phone number?||¿Cuál es tu teléfono?|
|What is your address?||¿Cuál es tu dirección?|
|How old are you?||¿Cuántos años tienes?|
|I am x years old||Tengo x años|
|Where are you from?||¿De dónde eres?|
|I am from x||Soy de…|
|Where do you live?||¿Dónde vives?|
|Do you live nearby?||¿Vives cerca?|
|I live in x||Vivo en…|
|What do you do for a living?||¿A qué te dedicas?|
|I work in x||Trabajo en…|
|Are you married?||¿Estás casado/casada?|
|Are you single?||¿Eres soltero/soltera?|
|Do you have children?||¿Tienes hijos?|
|Do you speak English?||¿Hablas inglés?|
|Do you speak another language other than x?||¿Hablas otro idioma además de…?|
|How much is this?||¿Cuánto cuesta?|
|Can you please recommend a good restaurant?||¿Puedes por favor recomendarme un buen restaurante?|
|What is your favorite food?||¿Cuál es tu comida favorita?|
|My favorite food is…||Mi comida favorita es…|
|How do you say x in Spanish?||¿Cómo dices x en español?|
|Would you like to grab a coffee?||¿Te gustaría ir a tomar un café?|
|Did you come on your own?||¿Vienes solo/sola?|
|What do you study?||¿Qué estudias?|
|Which school did you attend?||¿En qué escuela estudiaste?|
|What are your hobbies?||¿Cuáles son tus pasatiempos?|
|What sports do you like?||¿Qué deportes te gustan?|
|Do you have a business card?||¿Tienes una tarjeta de presentación?|
For more on Spanish Greetings and Basic Conversation in Spanish, check out this article.
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