ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Foreign Languages

Learn Spanish: Greetings

Updated on September 2, 2016
cclitgirl profile image

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts and culture and sharing that knowledge.

Source

How to Speak Spanish: Greetings

Maybe you're an adult who wants to learn Spanish a little better. Perhaps you're still in school, but would like a refresher on some of the basics.

Whatever the case may be, learning a few greetings in Spanish can not only help you when you interact with Spanish speakers in your own country, such as in the United States, but also when you travel abroad.

The Spanish language has a number of ways you can greet people and this article aims to give you plenty of different ways of communicating.

Greetings in Spanish are called "saludos." You can watch the video I created to help you with the correct pronunciation; look below.

Interesting Facts About Spanish Greetings

  • Many Spanish-speaking people will shorten the "Buenos días" to just "Buenas" - which literally means "Greetings."
  • "Buenos días" is usually used until around noontime. Then people will say "Buenas tardes" late into the evening.
  • Think of "buenas noches" as "good night," - when you might use that phrase in retiring for the evening or going to bed.

Source

Los Saludos: Greetings In Spanish

Many people are already familiar with three basic greetings in Spanish, depending on the time of day:

  • Buenos días - Good day, or good morning.
  • Buenas tardes - Good afternoon.
  • Buenas noches - Good evening.

Spanish has one basic word for hello or hi:

  • ¡Hola! - Hi! or Hello!

Just as in English, usually after saying "hello" or "good morning" many people add, "how are you?" It is the same in Spanish.

In Spanish, however, there are two main variations: formal and informal. Generally, if you don't know someone, it's a good idea to use a formal greeting. Of course, there are more variations than this (such as the vosotros form used in Spain), but rather than bog you down with lots of extraneous information, we'll stick to the basics here:

  • ¿Cómo está? - How are you? (formal)
  • ¿Cómo estás? - How are you? (informal)
  • ¿Qué tal? - How are you? (informal)

Spanish Speaking Countries and Areas

A map of Hispanophone (Spanish-speaking) countries and areas, where Spanish is the mother tongue. Darker blue indicates a higher number of Spanish speakers.
A map of Hispanophone (Spanish-speaking) countries and areas, where Spanish is the mother tongue. Darker blue indicates a higher number of Spanish speakers. | Source

Formal Spanish vs. Informal - When to Use Each One?

Every country in the Spanish-speaking world has different customs as to when you should address someone formally or informally.

For example, in Mexico, people will use the formal "usted" form when they don't know each other, but will use the informal "tú" more quickly than in Spain, for example.

The best course of action is study the country you're visiting to get an idea of local customs.

However, it's not always possible to do that. So what do you do?

It's always best to default to the formal "usted" usage and then as you begin speaking with people, follow their lead. If they begin to use the "tú" form, then follow suit.

Note: in many countries, there are other variations. For example, in many Central American countries, people will use "vos" instead of "tú" and in Spain, they will use "vosotros" when addressing a group of friends informally.

Not to worry!

People are generally very understanding when they know you're learning and attempting to speak their language. If you goof, it's not a big deal. Just smile and keep going.

Responses to Greetings

When you respond to someone who's asking how you are, think about how you'd do it in English. Most of the time, greetings are a courtesy, right?

In English, a basic conversation might go like this:

Hi! Good morning. How are you?

I'm fine, thanks. How are you?

But, as you know, the actual responses you can use are unlimited. For now, we'll just keep it simple.

Formal Responses

When you hear the more formal phrase, "Hola, ¿Como está?" here are some appropriate responses:

  • Estoy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? - I'm fine, thank you. And you?

You can use the phrase above like a formula, substituting the word "bien" for other common Spanish words:

Estoy _____, gracias. ¿Y usted?


Examples of common words you could use:

  • Regular - all right.
  • Muy bien - very well.
  • Feliz - happy.
  • Así-así - so-so.
  • Más o menos - so-so
  • Triste - sad
  • Terrible - terrible
  • Mal - not well.

Informal Responses

When you're talking with a friend or younger sibling, you can use more informal Spanish. If you hear the less formal phrases, "Hola, ¿Cómo estás?" or "Hola, ¿Qué tal? a standard response would be:

  • Estoy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?

Like the formal response above, this is also a formula. You can sustitute other words in for "bien:"

Estoy _____, gracias. ¿Y tú?


You could then fill in the formula with any of the examples of common words just above:

Estoy regular, gracias. ¿Y tú?


Listen to the Greetings in Spanish - a video I created.

Sample Conversations

A Formal Conversation:

ARTURO: Hola, Doña Lucía. ¿Cómo está?

LUCÍA: Estoy muy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted?

ARTURO: Estoy excelente, gracias.


An Informal Conversation 1:

PACO: Hola, Pedro. ¿Qué tal?

PEDRO: Así-así, Paco. Gracias. ¿Y tú?

PACO: Estoy regular, gracias.


Informal Conversation 2:

FELIPE: Hola, Juana. ¿Cómo estás?

JUANA: ¡Estoy feliz, Felipe! ¿Y tú?

FELIPE: Bien, bien, gracias.


As you can see, in these mini-conversations, sometimes words are left out: it's a natural part of normal communication.

In informal conversation 1, Pedro doesn't have to say "estoy" because it's redundant: we know Paco is speaking to Pedro.


Source

More Spanish Greetings Practice

Once you have watched the video listening to how to pronounce the words for greetings, say them out loud several times to yourself.

Spend a few minutes reciting each conversation to help you learn the responses even better.

Then, once you feel confident, take the quiz to see what you remember! Don't worry if you don't do perfectly: what matters is that you're learning and trying.

Quiz on Spanish Greetings


view quiz statistics

Despedidas: Good-Byes

What about the end of the conversation? It's a kind of greeting, isn't it?

There are a few ways you can say to say good-bye to someone in Spanish:

  • Adiós - good-bye (literally: to God).
  • Hasta luego - see you later.
  • Hasta mañana - see you tomorrow.
  • Ciao or Chao - ciao (This is a word adopted into Spanish; it's orginally Venetian. There are variations on the spelling in English and in Spanish and it's sometimes used as "hello" in Italian!)

© 2014 Cynthia Sageleaf

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 8 months ago from Western NC

      Melissa - that youtube link is not bad! Thanks for sharing it. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Muchisimas gracias, Senora.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Manatita - yes, there are lots of good sites out there; I'll be adding more hubs on Spanish stuff, too - one hub at a time. :)

      If you do a search for "BK Nelson Colby College" you'll see a page that lets you practice everything from adjectives to verbs.

      Also, studyspanish.com is a good resource. Thanks again for coming by!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Iqualmente.

      Estas una mujer muy bonita. Tambien muy charismatica y simpatica. Es muy amable. Me gusto su sonrisa.

      Not so good. In fact I only speak un poquito. Perhaps you can recommend easy programmes. Really appreciate your selfless spirit.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Gracias a tí manatita. Ten un buen día. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Muchisimas Gracias, mi cara amiga.

      Dios te bendiga y acompanye Paz.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      OD - ¡HOLA! My husby says the same thing: he took Spanish I and decided he'd NEVER use it. So, I refer him to my hubs when he sees my family because my family speaks so much Spanish. Haha. You just never know when you're going to need it. :) I didn't know you worked in a bilingual school. And census interviews in Spanish? Really? How did you land that gig!? That's awesome!

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 3 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      This was a great refresher for me. When I was in high school, I complained and said I'd never use Spanish. However, during my life I have been deployed to a Spanish speaking country twice, worked in a bilingual school, and conducted census interviews in Spanish. Knowing a little bit of Spanish has been essential!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Cre8tor - that's awesome! Glad it was helpful. :) I appreciate your feedback; have a wonderful day! Cheers~

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Dan Robbins 3 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Cyndi! This was a lot of fun. Made me brush up and was able to share with my boys too! Great hub! Voted Up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Susi10 - thank you so much. I'm really glad you have a foundation with which to now have a basic conversation. :D I'm impressed on the quiz, too. Thanks for coming by - have a great day!

    • susi10 profile image

      Susan W 3 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

      Great hub, Cyndi! Muy bien! :)

      This hub is perfect for learning to converse with others, your hub is beautifully formatted (the word art that you created for the images is a great idea) and the inclusion of videos has really reinforced the words I have learned. Believe it or not, after reading this hub I can now ask someone how they are and have a conversation in Spanish (sort of). The quiz was a great idea too, I got 100%. :)

      Well done, sharing.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Melanie, hehe, well...it's about time I acknowledge it, yes? LOL. So good to see you, friend. Have a wonderful day! xo

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 3 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      You can tell just by reading this hub how passionate you are about the language and that's awesome to see! So excited to see how this all progresses for you this year, fab job on the hub and have a great day friend! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Dianna - aww, it's always wonderful to see you. Thank you for your sweet words - I always appreciate you and your kindness. :) I hope your day is going well, too! HUGS

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I read this post earlier and enjoyed the lesson. Just wanted to stop in and leave a comment. Hope your day is going well.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Deb - that's awesome! Hehe. Feels good, dunnit? ;)

      Nell - hey, Nell! That is NOT bad at all for never having had Spanish before. :D haha, thanks so much for coming by! xo

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi, I got 75 per cent! which isn't too bad as I have never learned a word of Spanish before! lol! so it went in! How long for, I have no idea! LOL! This is great, and seriously, really useful, nell

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Well, gosh, I got 100% on the quiz. I guess something from those 4 years of Spanish in school must have stuck with me. Great hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Vicki - LOL...I'm working on another as I type this. ;)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Cyndi--I can see your grin from here. LOL! You are the impressive one, though, I must say. I understand more babble than I can speak. And when someone speaks the language really fast, forget it. Woah! Anyway, this hub is really great. Very HOTD worthy!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Vicki - you just made my day and I have a HUGE grin on my face. Coming from you: HubPages pro, and Teacher Extraordinaire, I am completely flattered. *blush* Hehe.

      Thank you so much. I don't believe for one second that you never got fluent: you understand all my babble, hehe.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Cyndi, this is a wonderful hub! I love the pronunciation video. You sound perfect! You really should do more and more of these and link them to your tutoring website. This is amazing. I scored 100% on the quiz, by the way. Being a former Spanish teacher, I would hope so. Still, I could learn from you. I never did get fluent. I think that's impossible without being immersed in the language. Your lessons can really help a lot of people. I look forward to the next one! Pinning this one! I created a "Learning Spanish" board because of you! :-)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Hi, Deb! Great to see you. :D Yes, I mean even with my own family, they have lived in New Mexico for hundreds of years and many of them still only speak Spanish - you just never know where you might end up to have a handy guide. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      With Spanish being spoken nearly everywhere now, it is good to have a few words. There are so many migrant workers around now, and it will help them feel more comfortable. It will also open a door to a possible friendship. What a great way to learn even more Spanish!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Thief12 - all the regional variations: wow! Someone else in the comments said it would be rude to just say "buenas" - in Peru. Ya know, I'm definitely going to write more of these - I'm learning from all the worldwide input. :)

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      cclitgirl, maybe it's regional. Here in Puerto Rico, we say "buenas".

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      J.S. - ha! That's awesome! See, that's what I love about my teaching: I can help people to really learn and have some fun in another language. :) Thanks for coming by!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Minnetonka Twin - haha, I will try to create some more guides, then, :) I hope you have a great day!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I scored an 87% on the quiz! Only 1 wrong. I've always struggled with being proper in Spanish (as well as English!) and this is a great guide for beginners. Up and shared. Gracias!

      JSMatthew~

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Great information on learning some spanish Cyndi. My nephew and niece (who I live with) are both getting really good at speaking spanish. This easy to read list will help me a bunch. When they think I don't know what their saying, I will show them. LOL

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Lemonkerds - It's amazing what just knowing a few words does for you when you travel, isn't it? Hehe.

      You're right about the "Buenas" thing - and it's so regional. I was telling another commenter that in Spain, when I would go into shops, I retailers wouldn't say "buenas" they'd just say "buenos" - but it's so specific to where you are. In my time in Mexico, no would would say that. For sure: another one of those "do as the Romans do" sorts of things. :) Thanks for coming by!

    • lemonkerdz profile image

      lemonkerdz 3 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

      Thanks for the Hub cclitgirl, living in a spanish speaking country we see when visitors just learn a few words in the language it goes a long way with the locals, and they are more willing to help you.

      On the word "Buenas"used on its own in peru is considered rude and lazy. Always use it with an accompanying word: días, noches ect.

      Will vote up and share.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Although Thief12 - you bring up a good point: the word "buenas" can just mean "greetings"which I didn't even think about until this moment - so I changed it up there to reflect that. Thanks!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Faith Reaper - thank you so much! I took French, too - oh man, I switched to Spanish when they ran out of classes for me to take, lol. I definitely love languages. :) Thank you for the votes and shares. xo

      Kathryn - that's awesome! If you have a Puerto Rican guy in your life, then you'll be able to learn bunches of español. ;) I love being back. Tried the blogging thing for awhile, but eh, I missed HP too much.

      Melovy - thank you, thank you! That's so awesome you had a chance to go to Chile. :) Haha, that's funny about the baños - a very important word. :D

      Sharon - haha, Antonia - I love it! I definitely love giving my students names in Spanish. :)

      Kelly - haha, yes, I've been wanting and wanting to do more of these. I finally resolved to do it. You can talk to Pedro in Spanish and tell him "guapo" - handsome. LOL

      Susan - Yes, more. I promise. xo Hehe.

      Thief12 - Good point. Though I have a question. I think it might be regional, the buenos vs. buenas, no? In Madrid, everyone told me "buenos" - if you confirm, I'll just say it's regional and some say "buenas" - eh, that's the trouble with over 21 Spanish-speaking countries. :)

      Lisawilliamsj - So glad you found this helpful! I'm going to try to do more. :) Good luck with that Spanish class! xo

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Williams 3 years ago

      This is awesome! I have to take a Spanish class soon to finish up my degree, and I have been a little terrified of it! You break it down in such an easy fun way that it does not seem so intimidating. Thanks for sharing, I voted up!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Good hub. As a Native Spanish speaker, I think it's very well written.

      Just one note, about your "Interesting Facts" section, when we shorten "Buenos días", we say "Buenas" not "Buenos".

      Voted Up, Useful, and Interesting

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a great way to teach us all Spanish! You're going to be doing more of these right???

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Sweet Cyndi...now do one of these every day and maybe I can learn me some Spanish! Lol.

      GREAT hub and this should get like...HOTD!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hola CC! I took Spanish in high school, I think just for a year, many moons ago but I don't remember much. I can do numbers to 10 and when someone says to me "Hola," I confidently (ha) respond Qué tal. Ummm, that's about it. I do remember my name was AnTONia as the teacher would say :)

      I bet you are an awesome teacher. Just the way you "teach" here in this article, I can tell you have tons of patience with your students. Voted up and all that and sharing!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 3 years ago from UK

      Great Hub Cyndi. The video is a great addition since it gives the correct pronunciation. Sometimes reading alone is not enough.

      It lmost makes me want to rekindle the Spanish I learned about 5 years ago in Chile. I must have masters all of - maybe 10 words. Buenos días, I remember, and banos. (We learned that one very quickly!)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Thanks, Cyndi! One of my resolutions this year is to learn Spanish. I have wanted to for years, but have put it on the back burner.

      My new man is Puerto Rican, so it would be really nice to have some kind of comprehension of his native tongue.

      I actually saw your YouTube video before I saw this, since I am subscribed to your YouTube videos :) Love it! It is very helpful, since it would be embarrassing to mispronounce these words.

      Happy new year, and it is so nice to see you here again now.

      ~ Kathryn

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hola Cyndi,

      Useful hub here and thanks for sharing your knowledge of speaking Spanish. I had four years of French in high school, but I wished I had taken Spanish, as my husband was in the Air Force when we first married and he was stationed down in south Florida in Tampa, and there were a lot of Cuba who spoke Spanish, so maybe I could have used it then. Never did make it to Paris as planned. LOL

      Up and more and sharing.

      Happy New Year and good to see you writing here again,

      Faith Reaper

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Tu parle francais, clark? LOL. You crack me up. ;)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Rebecca - Ya know, that doesn't surprise me. :) I say that because I've heard that older folks can help stave off dementia by doing crosswords, puzzles and things that otherwise keep the brain active, so that makes sense. Thanks. Great to see you!

    • profile image

      clark 3 years ago

      damn! I didn't get an A on the quiz!!

      (that I do not speak Spanish doesn't quite seem to be excuse enough)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      They say learning a new language as an adult can stave off dementia. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Audrey - You're right! :) I think it's high time I share all my Spanish teaching stuff. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Oh dear, BB, you CRACK me up. ;) Haha...look you said, "adiós"! See? You learned a word. Now just 10,000 more so you can function. HAHAHA. Take care! Hugs!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Oh I love this Cyndi! You should do a whole series of them--funny situations, useful situations---etc

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No chance for me lil Sis, but it's great having you back here writing again. I'm sure this will be very helpful for people who aren't 65 years old and brain dead regarding languages. LOL Have a great weekend....Adios!