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1.1 Saying hello Includes sound files!

"Guten Morgen!"
("Good Morning!")
Click here to listen to this phrase!
"Guten Tag!"
("Hello!" (literally "Good day!"))
Click here to listen to this phrase!
"Guten Abend!"
("Good evening!")
Click here to listen to this phrase!

1. German speakers say "Hello!" in a number of ways.
This partly depends on the time of day:

  • "Guten Morgen!" is said until about 10 a.m.
  • "Guten Tag!" is said from about 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.
    (There is no equivalent phrase for "Good afternoon!" in German.)
  • "Guten Abend!" is said after 5 p.m.

All of these greetings are used in formal situations when we might say "How do you do" in English, or when meeting people we don't know particularly well. When you expect or are hoping for service, it could be interpreted as impolite not to say "Guten Tag!" as an opener.

2. In informal situations however - amongst family, friends or young people -, the above greetings are often shortened or other greetings are used:

    " 'n Abend!"

3. Your greeting will also depend on your geographical location. In South Germany and Austria, you'll often hear "Grüß Gott!" or "Servus!" in daylight hours, whilst in Switzerland you'll hear "Grüezi":

"Grüß Gott!"
("Hello!" ("May God greet you!"))
"Grüß dich!"
("Hello!" (informal: "I greet you!"))

Tip!Remember to shake hands!
Shake hands!When Germans meet, their greetings can appear quite formal. Even if they see each other every day at work they will usually shake hands. If you enter a room full of people, a general greeting to all of them is usually sufficient, although you will probably shake hands with some of them at least. Strictly speaking, the older person should hold out their hand first.

Close acquaintances and friends however frequently greet each other in Southern European style not with a handshake but with a kiss on the left cheek and a kiss on the right.

Weiter!Chapter 1.2: Saying goodbye

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