For our first few weeks on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been talking about the many different ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian, and in which situation to use which greeting. Read below and give it a try!
Here is a summary, adapted from our pocket book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases © 2014 of the many ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian, which was shared with our Facebook group.
Meeting and Greeting in Italian
As in English, in Italian there are many ways to greet people, and different expressions will be used depending on the situation and how well the individuals know one another. Italian society has become overall less formal. Many easygoing, familiar, and slang expressions are now commonly used, not only between friends and family, but even between acquaintances, although polite forms of address are still important to know.
Listed below are some of the most common ways to say, “hello.” “Buon giorno” can be used to mean “Good morning,” when greeting family members at home and shop owners at the piazza; this phrase can also be used in more formal situations as its literal translation: “Good day.” It is a phrase used so often that in fact, one often hears the reply shortened to simply “Giorno.” There are at least as many ways to say “good bye” as there are to say “hello,” as noted below.
Notice that the word ciao is unique because it can be used as an informal “hi” and a quick way to say “good bye.” Ciao is used frequently throughout Italy today, but only with family and friends. So, don’t get stuck on the word ciao – use your more formal greetings for those Italians you may meet the first time during your travels in Italy.
The word salve is also interesting. It also means “hello.” It’s originals date back many centuries. Today, it is thought to be a bit formal and yet… still a bit informal. In short, it is a good choice for both formal and informal situations. Or, even when one is not sure just how “formal” the situation should be!
Use the phrases below as a guide when you are visiting in Italy. Take a walk (like the Italians love to do) and practice all of these greetings with the new people you meet at the shops, restaurants, and in the piazza!
|Buon giorno.*||Good morning. (lit. Good day.)|
|used all day into the evening|
|Buona sera.*||Good evening.|
|early nighttime greeting|
|Buona notte.*||Good night.|
|used when leaving/bedtime|
|Buona giornata.||(Have a) good day.|
|wish someone a nice (entire) day|
|informal greeting for family/friends|
|Ci vediamo!||(Until) we see each other (again)!|
|for family or for a friend you hope to see again soon|
|Arrivederci.||Good bye. (familiar polite)|
|Arrivederla.||Good bye. (polite, with respect)|
|ArrivederLa.||Good bye. (formal written form)|
|Salve.||Hello. (old greeting/formal and informal)|
|Come va?||How (is it) go(ing)? (a slang greeting used often)|
|Hey, beautiful girl!
|for someone you know (well)|
|A dopo!||(See you) later! (good bye between friends)|
|A più tardi!||(See you) later! (good bye between friends)|
|A presto!||(See you) soon!
(good bye between friends)
*Can be written as one word, as in buongiorno, buonasera, or buonanotte.
Use these phrases to agree with what someone is saying:
|Penso di si.||(I) think so.|