Greetings in German

In this online German lesson we see the greetings, die Begrüßung o der Gruß.

How to greet in different situations, and what to say when you meet an acquaintance in Germany.

We will see the greeting not only from the linguistic point of view but also the greeting etiquette because you never know, you could find yourself living in Germany at any moment 😉.

Basic greetings

Many greetings are formed by:

inflected adjective + noun

The adjectives we usually use gut (good) or schön (beautiful).

The nouns are Morgen, Tag, Abend, Nacht, respectively morning, day, evening, night.

So, for example, among the possible greetings are guten Tag and schönen Tag.

When to use one or the other? There is absolutely no difference between guten Tag and schönen Tag.

Of course we have the classics:

  • gute Morgen
  • guten Tag
  • guten Abend
  • gute Nacht

Meeting someone

When you meet someone you can say hallo, or if you are in the south of Germany or Austria you can say servus.

To greet someone friendly when you leave you can use ciao, tschüss, servus (in the South).

Ciao is borrowed from the Italian language. Too bad there is no copyright on the language…

Sometimes ciao is Germanized as tschau.

good morningguten Morgen
good dayguten Tag
good dayschönen Tag
good eveningguten Abend
good eveningschönen Abend
good nightgute Nacht
byeciao o tschau
byetschüs o tschüss
bye (lit. See you again!)auf Wiedersehen
bye (on the phone)auf Wiederhören
Note the pronunciation of Tag, it is pronounced as if the word ends with k, with a kind of click in the back of your tongue. It is a general rule that a g at the end of the word is pronounced as if it were a k. Think for example of the final g of zwanzig.

You can also be less formal and forget about gut and schön, and simply say Morgen, Tag or Abend.

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The Bavarians

Germans from other parts of Germany say jokingly, but not too much, that Bavarians don’t speak German.

The Bavarians are very proud of their dialect and tend to use it even in formal contexts.

The Bavarians are special also in their greetings.

We have already seen Servus as a typical Bavarian greeting, now extended also to neighboring nations and Länder (regions).

The form Grüß + personal pronoun in the accusative is widely used. For example Grüß dich, literally salutations to you.

And we arrived at the centerpiece of the Bavarian greeting, that greeting that if you say it outside Bavaria will immediately transform you from a respectable bourgeois in a suit and tie to a Bavarian peasant in Lederhose, the typical leather pants. We are talking about the Grüß Gott, omnipresent in Bavaria.

Sometimes translated in God greets you.

In addition to being omnipresent in Bavaria, the Grüß Gott has spread throughout the predominantly Catholic Länder, for the reference to God, Gott. As well as in Austria.

Widespread in southern and western Germany, at lunchtime, that is between 11:00 and 14:00, it is customary to say goodbye with Mahlzeit , literally time to eat. Sounds very strange as a greeting, isn’t it?

I greet you (informal)Grüß dich
I greet you (to more person)Grüß euch
I greet you (formal)Grüß Sie
greetingsGrüß Gott

Meetings between Germans 🤝

When you meet someone you know you can ask them how are you doing.

But, pay attention because the Germans are not normally used to throw a how are you doing in all situations as it is used in English-speaking countries. Result? to the question “how is it going?” many might answer “why?", warum? 😮, amazed at your request.

How is it going can be translated with wie geht’s?

You can also specify to whom is the request addressed, for example wie geht es dir? How it is going to you?

🤝 A manly handshake is a must, both in formal and informal contexts.

On the contrary, the kiss on the cheeks as in other “warmer” countries is out. Between women, who are in confidence with each other, a quick hug is the maximum of allowed contact.

How do you answer the question wie geht’s?

The most common answer is es geht mir gut/schlecht, it goes well/bad.

Another informal way of addressing someone is with alles klar?, everything good?

FormalHow are you doing?Wie geht es Ihnen?
InformalHow are you doing?Wie geht es dir?
InformalHow are you doing?Wie geht’s?
 GoodEs geht mir gut
 BadEs geht mir schlecht
InformalEverything ok?Alles klar?

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I hope you enjoyed this post and have learned something you like.

Bis nächstes Mal! (to the next time)