How to say “HELLO” in Italian: learn all the ways!

In this lesson we will learn several ways to greet. You should know that Italians, unlike other languages, use the word “CIAO” both to greet someone when they meet, and to separate at the end of the meeting… This means that we translate “hello” and “goodbye”, “hola” and “adios”, or “salut” and “au revoir” in the exact same way: CIAO!

Alternative Italian greetings to the boring “CIAO”

Let’s start with the alternatives to “CIAO” that you could use to start a conversation!

1 – Hey!

This form of greeting is fine especially in informal situations, between friends and relatives, but it would be better to avoid it in more formal contexts or with people we do not know very well.

Rocco: Hey Graziana! Come stai? (Hey Graziana! How are you doing?)

Graziana: Hey! Che bello rivederti! Sto bene, e tu? (Hey! How nice to see you again! I’m fine, and you?)

Two other informal alternatives that you could use instead of the repetitive “CIAO” are:

2 – “We” and “Weilà”

This are also very informal and youthful greetings, to be used perhaps with your friends and peers.

G: Weilà!

R: We! Che mi racconti? (We! What’s new?)

G: Sempre il solito… E tu? (Always the usual thing… What about you?)

R: Mah… niente di chè! (mah… nothing special!)

Another alternative that you could use is:

3 – Hola

Although Italians do not commonly speak Spanish, they perfectly understand the “hola” greeting. Be careful though: it is mainly used in informal settings!

G:Hola! Come stai? (Hola! How are you?)

R: Molto bene, la mia vita va a gonfie vele! (Very well, my life is in full swing!)

Among the informal alternatives there is also:

4 – Chi si rivede! (Look who’s back!)

This alternative is used when addressing a person the you haven’t seen in a long time… therefore, it should not be used with people that you meet daily!

The same goes for:

5 – Chi non muore si rivede! (Long time no see!)

This alternative is also used with people we don’t see everyday or every week!

R: Chi si rivede! (Long time no see!)

G: Rocco! Che piacere rivederti! Come stai? (Rocco! What a pleasure to see you again! How are you?)

Now let’s move on to more formal alternatives!

6 – Buongiorno (Good morning)

“Buongiorno” is a form of greeting to be used exclusively in the morning.
However, how do you know when it is appropriate to use this type of greeting? I’d lie to you if I say that there’s a clear rule… We can say that, generally from dawn, that is, around 7 am, until 12 am or 1 pm, even 2 pm, ” buongiorno” is fine.

When the sun starts to go down, from 2 pm /3 pm until 5 pm/6 pm another type of greeting is used:

7 – Buon pomeriggio (Good afternoon)

Finally, from 6 pm onwards, we use:

8 – Buona sera (Good evening)

Be careful, though: the expression”buonanotte” (“good night”) is exclusively a form of leave for someone who is presumably going to sleep soon.

Among the formal alternatives the most common is definitely:

9 – Salve (Hello)

“Salve” is becoming more and more common, in fact, you can use as much as a greeting when you meet someone, so much as a form of leave when you separate.

R:Salve! Ho un appuntamento con l’avvocato a nome di Rocco Dabellonio! (Hello! I have an appointment with the lawyer on behalf of Rocco Dabellonio!)

Secretary: Salve! L’avvocato è impegnato con un altro cliente, si può accomodare all’entrata: la chiameremo non appena si libera! (Hello! The lawyer is busy with another client, you can sit at the entrance: I will call you as soon as he’s done!)

Now let’s move on to the forms of leave, the ones that are used when separating at the end of a conversation.

Among the most informal ones there are:

10 – “Ci vediamo dopo” and “A dopo” (“See you later” and “Later”)

These forms of leave are perfect when we know that, soon, we will meet again the person from whom we are separating.

The same applies to:

11 – “A più tardi”, “A presto” and “Arrivederci” (“Later”, “See you soon” and “Goodbye”) 

Although the latter is probably more formal, especially if we use it with the pronoun of the third person in the form “ArrivederLa”.

R: Hey! Ti andrebbe una pizza stasera? (Hey! Fancy a pizza tonight?)

G: Certo! (Sure!)

R: A più tardi allora! (See you later then!)

G: A dopo! (Later!)

A rather interesting form of leave is:

12 – Addio (Farewell)

In fact, as a rule we could say that “addio” indicates a permanent separation and is used when two or more people know that they will never see each other again or, at least, they will not see each other for a very long period of time. However, it is often possible to use “addio” even in informal contexts with an ironic nuance.

In informal situations, it would also be possible to leave using some alternatives borrowed from Spanish, French and English, such as:

13 – Adios, Goodbye, Bye and Au revoir

Instead, formal expressions of leave include:

14 – Buona giornata (Have a good day)

That is, the equivalent of taking leave of “buongiorno”

15 – Buon pomeriggio (Good afternoon)

Which stays the same!

16 – Buona serata (Good evening)

Equivalent to take leave of “buona sera”.

G: Buongiorno dottore! Mi potrebbe consigliare qualcosa per la tosse? (Good morning Doctor! Could you recommend me something for the cough?)

Doctor: Certo! Passi stasera così le do un ottimo antibiotico: adesso sono troppo indaffarato! (Sure! You can pass tonight so I will give you a very good antibiotic: now I’m too busy!)

G: Va bene! Buona giornata allora! (All right! Have a good day then!)

Doctor: Buona giornata! (Have a good day!)

[Later that day…]

G: Buona sera! (Good evening!)

Doctor: Signorina Filomeno! Ecco il suo sciroppo: vedrà che con questo tornerà in perfetta salute nel giro di qualche giorno! (Miss Filomeno! Here you have your syrup: with this you will be back in perfect health in a few days!

G: La ringrazio e buona serata! (Thank you and have a good evening!)

Doctor: Buona serata anche a lei! (Have a good night for you too!)

Great! You have learnt all the ways to say “hi” in Italian! Now, if you liked this video-lesson, don’t forget to have a look at the lesson about all the ways to say “molto” in Italian.

However, if you really want to improve your Italian, you should enrol to our course Italiano in Contesto: by using the coupon code VoglioParlare, you’ll get 37% off! What are you waiting for?

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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