10 Hilarious Ways To Say Hello in German: Common German Greetings

If you thought saying hello in German was just about “Guten Tag,” prepare to be delightfully surprised.

Germany, with its rich cultural tapestry, offers a plethora of greetings that vary from the standard to the downright humorous.

From saying hello on the bustling streets of northern Germany to the appropriate way to greet locals in cozy towns of the south, let’s dive into the most common German greetings.

Standard German Greetings

Here’s how native speakers in the German speaking world greet each other:

“Guten Tag” and “Guten Abend”

In the morning, Germans say “Guten Morgen” as a standard and slightly formal greeting , which simply means “Good Morning.”

As the day progresses, you can greet people with “Guten Tag”, which literally means “Good Day.” It is also used to say “good afternoon’ and works in both casual and formal situations.

Then, as the evening sets in, the greeting switches to “Guten Abend,” or “Good Evening.” To say “Good night,” you can say “Gute Nacht.”

By the way, while we are on the topic of time, if you want to know how to properly tell the time in German, check out this useful article on how to tell the time in German.

Friendly and Informal: “Hallo” and “Hi”

Switch gears to more relaxed and informal situations, and you’ll hear “Hallo” (Hello) and even the English-borrowed “Hi.” These greetings are the go-to in more casual conversations.

The Classic “Wie geht es dir” and “Wie geht es Ihnen?”

Translating to “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” in English, “Wie geht’s dir?” is the informal greeting used for close friends while “Wie geht es Ihnen?” is the form you would use for people in authority (Read more about addressing a German: Sie / du).

However, “Wie geht es dir” is not used exactly the same as “how are you” is in English. While in English, “how are you” is said to anyone and everyone, “Wie geht’s dir” (or “Ihnen”) tends to be said around people you already know.

Alles Klar?

Literally translating to “Is everything alright?”, this casual greeting reminds me of the Japanese greeting “Daijoubu desu ka?” – while it can be used to ask after someone, “Alles klar?” is usually used like “How’s it going?”. It’s similar to “Was ist los?”, but this second phrase also means “What’s the matter?”, so pay attention to context.

Greetings in German - How to say hello in German

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Regional German Greetings

Here’s a list of greetings you’ll hear in certain regions:

Moin (Moin)

For most of its history, Germany was not a united region: it was a loose federation of states, and because of that history, there are a lot of regional variations.

“Moin Moin!” is mainly used in northern areas like Hamburg and East Frisia. For someone who does not come from North Germany, this phrase might be confusing since it derives from “Morgen” but can be used at any time of the day.

Some people even double it and say “Moin Moin”. Younger people also use “Moinsen” in the north. 

Grüß Gott

“Grüß Gott” is from southern Germany; invoking God, this way of greeting in German can sound old-fashioned to those in the north, but is still heard in Bavaria, as well as Austria, to say “hello”.

Tach, Guude, Gemorje, Juten Morjen

The word “Tach” is used in Northern Germany and in North Rhine-Westphalia. “Guude”, which is a shortened version of “Guten”, you can hear in Hesse and Northern Rhineland-Palatinate. In the area, the greeting can also be used as a farewell.

By the way, in Hesse, instead of “Guten Morgen” you will most likely hear “Gemorje”. And in Berlin and Brandenburg, where the dialect often changes “g” into “j”, people often say “Juten Morgen” or “Juten Morjen”.

How to say Hello in German with non-German Words

Here are some popular greetings in different regions that are not German in origin:


This is used often and is great for any situation. “Hi!” is also used in Germany, but just like using it in English, try to use it among people you’re already familiar with.


You’ll not only hear this in Italy, but in various areas across Europe now too. It’s used as a greeting and as a goodbye, especially in the larger, more metropolitan cities. In German we’d write it “Tschau” and it’s a not only a way of saying “Hello” but can also be used for saying “Goodbye”.


The word “servus” is related to the word “servant” and basically means “at your service”. It’s not really used in this sense anymore nowadays, but you’ll definitely hear it in Bavaria and Austria.


In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the most common greeting is “Grüezi/Griezi” (from “Grüß Sie”) or “Grüessech” (Grüße Euch).

This translates to “God greets you”, but for a phrase with less of a religious connotation, you can also use “Grüß dich.”

Family members and close friends use “Hoi”, which was originally a shout used by shepherds to drive their cattle. “Sali”, coming from a Latin phrase, just as the French word “Salut”, is also used.

How to Say Goodbye in German

Like “Hallo” and “Guten Tag,” you can always use “Auf Wiedersehen” (Goodbye) and “Tschau” or “Tschüs/Tschüss” (Bye) as we write it. However, like for the greetings, there exist several regional phrases for how to say “Goodbye”.

Let’s start in Bavaria and Austria. Instead of saying “Auf Wiedersehen”, in Bavaria it is more common to say “Auf Wiederschau’n” (“schauen” is another word for “sehen” which means “to see”).

You will also hear, especially in Austria, “Ba-Ba” (it might derive from the English “Bye-bye”). Other farewells in Bavarian are “Pfia God“, “Pfiat di God” or “Pfiat  eahna” (formal) and “Pfiat di/eich“ (familiar).

More Ways to Say Goodbye

There are plenty more rather silly goodbyes. Funnily enough, the Bavarians vehemently resist “Tschüs” and try to avoid it like the devil.

In 2002, there was even a school director in Passau who forbade her students to use the word and even to say hello in German!

There are two theories as to where the word “Tschüs” derives from. The one considered to be proven is the fact that “Tschüs” developed from the old Low German (spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands) word “Atschüs”, which was still in use until the 1940s.

According to the first theory, “Atschüs” comes from the Wallon word “adjus” which means “to God”. The second theory assumes that “Atschüs” goes back to the Spanish word “Adíos” which also means “to God”. 

When you are on the phone talking to someone you do not know or do not know very well, you would say “Auf Wiederhören”. 

Of course, you can extend all farewells and add the following phrases: 

  • “Bis morgen /bald / später!” – See you tomorrow / soon / later! 
  • “Bis dann!” – See you!
  • “Wir hören uns!” – Talk to you!
  • “Mach’s gut!” – Take care!
  • “Schönen Tag / Abend (noch)!” – Have a good day / evening!
  • “Schönes Wochenende!” – Have a nice weekend!
  • “Viel Spaß!” – Have fun!
  • “Gute Reise!” – Have a good trip!
  • “Pass auf dich auf” – Take care!
  • “Bleib gesund” – Stay healthy!

Nonverbal Greetings in German

But how about nonverbal communication? Do you need to shake hands or to give a cheek kiss, or maybe rub noses? Well, this depends on who you encounter.

If you meet someone for the very first time the most common greeting is a handshake, whereas if you meet close friends you may hug them or give them a cheek kiss.

Unlike in some other countries, there is no rule regarding the number of kisses. However, usually, you give one or two kisses. But do not worry: if you are not the kissing type of person shaking hands is always completely fine!

In times of Covid-19, alternative forms of saying “Hi” and “Bye” have come along. You might see people touching each other with their elbows or even with their feet. Fist bumps are also used among the younger population (anyone below the mental age of 50).

Others like to give “air kisses” or pretend to hug each other while hugging themselves. There are also many people who do none of these things and simply say “Hallo” and/or just nod.

These were some of the most common ways to say hello in German. Let’s take a look at what to say when it’s time to say “Thank you” or “Good Bye” to a German.

German Greetings in Action

Easy German, whose interview videos – and only those – I can warmly recommend, has a lovely video on the matter of how to say hello in German.

Warning: Please don’t watch any German teaching videos on Youtube as they are not suited for learning German due to the lack of structure, but also often due to the lack of didactical training of the Youtuber.

How to Say “Thank you” in German

In all German-speaking countries you can use “danke schön” or just “Danke”. 

Those of you who find “Danke” too simple and would like to put more emotions in their vocabulary can also say “Herzlichen Dank” (the word “herzlichen” comes from the German word “Herz” which means “heart”). Beside this expression, you will also hear “Vielen Dank”, “Danke vielmals”* or “Vielen herzlichen Dank”.

Interesting Facts

You can easily recognize a person from Switzerland when they thank you because they say “Danke vielmal”, which sounds off to German ears.

In addition, in German federal-states which border France (namely Baden-Wuertemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland) you can say “Merci” as well. 

In Bavaria and Austria, you might also hear “Vergelt’s Gott” (dialect “Fa´gööd´s-God”) or “Gejds God”, which has a Christian background, and the dialect form of “danke schön”, which is “Dang schee”.

In Hessen someone might say to you “En Haufen Dank” instead of “Vielen Dank”, meaning “A heap of thanks”.

How to Respond to Danke

With regards to responding to “Danke”, the most common phrases are “Bitte”, “Bitte schön”, “Kein Problem”, “Keine Ursache” (‘Don’t mention it’; literally: ‘no reason’), “Gerne” (‘with pleasure’) or “Gern geschehen” (‘it happened with pleasure’). As you can see, there are plenty of options. 

A specific phrase which is used in the North of Germany is “Da nich(t) für”, which means literally “not for that”.

And last but not least, if you would like to waive scores with someone in Bavaria, you should respond to “Vergelt’s Gott” with “Segen’s Got”’ (dialect “Sengs God”, meaning: ‘May God bless it’) or “Zahl’s Gott” (‘May God pay for it’). 

Is your head spinning now? Do not worry! As mentioned already above, you can always use “Bitte” or “Bitte schön”.

FAQs: Different German greetings

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about saying hello in German, in both formal and informal contexts.

How do you say “How are you” in German respectfully?

To say “How are you?” respectfully in German, you would use “Wie geht es Ihnen?” This is the formal greeting and way to ask how someone is doing. It is appropriate in formal settings or when speaking with someone you don’t know well.

What is the German greeting Mahlzeit?

“Mahlzeit” is a traditional German greeting commonly used around midday or during meal times. Originally meaning “mealtime,” it’s often used in workplaces or among acquaintances as a way of saying “Enjoy your meal” or just as a general greeting around lunchtime.

How do you say “What’s up” in German slang?

In German slang, “What’s up?” can be translated to “Was geht ab?”

”Wie läuft’s? is another way to ask ”What’s going on?” and this phrase literally translates to ‘What’s running?’. This is a very colloquial way of asking someone what they are doing or how they are.

Summing Up: 10 Hilarious Ways To Say Hello in German

As you can see, like in any other language there are plenty of options to express yourself in German.

Do not feel under pressure to use and know all these phrases. Rather, take it as an opportunity to get more familiar with your environment, and to enrich your German vocabulary.

For even more language learning fun, check out SmarterGerman and sign up for a free trial. Embrace this opportunity to connect with the German language in a way that’s both meaningful and fun.

In that sense: Tschau, Tschö und bis bald! Or simply: San Frantschüsko