How to Say Hello in German
In all the world cultures greeting carries the significant emotional and communicative notion. That is the one saying "How do you do" who defines the further development of the communicative situation. The greeting prepares the interlocutors for the positive conversation and establishes the certain atmosphere of the communicative process. Usually is you look up in the dictionaries and reference books the German greetings the most popular ones will be connected with the time of the day. As the most part of the European nations the German native speakers use the greetings similar to the most wide-spread ones that have a lot of equivalents in the languages of Roman and Latin origin. They are "Good Morning!". "Good Afternoon!" and "Good Evening!" of course. The equivalent of "Good Evening!" sounds neutral and won't cause any problems with starting the conversation. It suits almost any situation. But the cases when the foreigners use the informal greetings often end in misunderstanding as it is necessary to feel the situation and intuitively choose the right greeting phrase.
The German variant of "Hello!" is perceived by the interlocutor as the more neutral one. It is widely spread among the partners who have approximately the same social status. The German variant of "Hello!" sounds relaxed and is used mostly by the young people. Generally one may hear it more often than in the U. S. The matter is that the German variant of "Hello!" is used not only to greet a person but also for attracting someone's attention. For instance you may say "Hey there" to your colleague to draw his attention but in Germany they will use "Hallo" in that case. But take into consideration the fact that this word won't suit for the official negotiations.
The situations which require or don't require greeting should be considered as well. In Germany the people often greet the ones they are not acquainted with even if they don't have the intentions to proceed with the further conversation. For example you may hear the people greeting you in the elevator or on the stairs.
The ways to greet the people in Germany
- Hello!- Hallo!
- Good Morning!- Guten Morgen!
- Good Afternoon!- Guten Tag!
- Good Evening!- Guten Abend!
These greetings may be used in their contracted form like "Morgen!", "Tag!" or "Abend!".
Take into consideration that the letter "A" gives the sound similar to the vowel one in the word "bus".
You may also use the greeting "Mahlzeit!" during the lunch break. That sounds polite and is translated like "Have a nice meal!". Literally it means "Time for the Meal".
Informal and regional greetings
- There are also the regional forms of greetings. In Bavaria you may often hear "Servus!" (an informal way to greet people) or "Grüß Gott!" (a formal way of greeting which means "Praise the Lord!").
- In the Northern regions of Germany "Moin-Moin" or just "Moin" is used as an informal greeting.
- You may also ask a person "Wie geht es dir/ Ihr?" which is the German equivalent of "How are you?".
- Don't use the regional greetings in other areas of Germany. It is not recommended to use "Grüß Gott!" in Berlin for example.
- Choose the greeting suitable for the communicative situation. Don't use "Hallo!" if you see your business partner for the first time. It is better to use the neutral "Guten Tag!".
- Don't forget to smile.
In Germany it is recommended to greet the shop assistants, neighbors and the people who just stare at you. Such greetings are accompanied by a friendly smile and don't oblige you to continue the conversation. That shows that you don't have any malicious intentions and you are not aggressive towards the other people.
If you see one and the same person several times a day you may say each time "Hallo!". That' won't sound odd.
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