Greetings are the gateway to lasting friendship. Before your trip to Germany, check out this list and you’ll be making friends in no time.
We never really have to think about it, but saying hello to those around you can, at times, be more complicated than expected. For those times when a simple “hi” won’t suffice, we’ve got you covered.
Nothing brightens up a day more than a cheerful “Guten Morgen”. Be sure to use this phrase to greet the locals as you make your way down the German streets.
Here's a sample conversation:
"Guten Morgen, wie geht's?"
"Good morning, how’s it going?"
Keep that energy going with a hearty “Guten Nachmittag”. The afternoons can be so dull sometime. Use this greeting to lift the spirits of those around you and you just might make some friends before dinner.
Check out an example conversation below.
"Guten Tag. Es ist ein schöner Tag."
"Good day. It’s a beautiful day."
It’s getting late and everyone is looking tired. But, you are on vacation. Spread some of that travel induced energy with a friendly “Guten Abend”. The night is young after all.
Here's an example way to say it.
"Ich wünsche ihnen noch einen schönen abend."
"Have a great night."
If you are lucky enough to spend some time in Germany during a special occasion, come prepared with whatever greeting the holiday requires.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag
Do you know any German-speaking person who will be celebrating his or her birthday soon? Simply say, " Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!"
Christmas is the most magical time of the year. Don’t act like a Grinch and keep to yourself. Get out there and spread some of that holiday cheer. Why not a sing a carol while you're at it?
Here's an example conversation.
|"Ich habe dir Geschenk gekauft."|
"Danke, Fröhliche Weihnachten!"
|"I bought you a present."
"Thank you, Merry Christmas!"
Frohes neues Jahr
If you’re in Germany for the New Year and you’ve been making sure to greet the locals with some of the prior phrases, there’s no doubt you will find yourself at a New Year’s party. Make sure to ring in the year on the right foot and wish everyone a “Frohes neues Jahr”.
|"Drei, zwei, eins...|
Frohes neues Jahr!"
|"Three, two, one...
Happy New Year!"
No, Germany doesn’t celebrate the American holiday. However, if you are in Germany on the 4th of July and looking to spread some American culture, this is the phrase to do it.
Germany does have it’s own Unity Day on October 3rd. If you find yourself in Germany at that time, and are looking for a special way to cheer the locals, tell them “Auf die Deutsche Einheit”.
|Frohlichen Unabhangigkeitstag!||Happy Independence Day!|
|Auf die Deutsche Einheit||Happy German Unity Day!|
Make the most of your next Easter vacation with this greeting. You may just score some of that delicious German chocolate.
|"Hier kommt der Osterhase!|
|Here comes the Easter bunny!
Alles Gute zum Valentinstag
Be sure to greet that special someone with this phrase on your next Valentine’s day. Oh and don’t forget the flowers and chocolates!
|"Das Abendessen war perfekt. Alles Gute zum Valentinstag!"||"The dinner was perfect. Happy Valentines!"|
Alles Gute zum Vatertag
If you happen to know a father in Germany that deserves some praise, or you just want to confuse your own father, give this phrase a try.
|"Papa, Willst du ein Bier?"|
"Bitte, Alles Gute zum Vatertag!"
|"Would you like a beer dad?"
"Here you are, Happy Father’s Day!"
Alles Gute zum Muttertag
Mothers need some love, too. Make sure you show your appreciation to any mothers in your life.
Or if you just see a mother during your travels, why not show her some support.
|"Ich habe dir Blumen gekauft."|
"Alles Gute zum Muttertag!"
|"I bought you flowers."
"Happy Mother’s Day!"
Anniversaries are a wonderful thing. Don’t be the person that always forgets these important dates. It may cost you a relationship.
|"Frohes Jubilaum! Ich Liebe Dich"||"Happy anniversary! I love you.|
Don’t miss out on all the Halloween activities this year. Grab a costume, dish out some candy, and try not to scare the children with your pronunciation of “Fröhliches Halloween”.
|"Fröhliches Halloween! Ich mag deine Kostüm."||"Happy Halloween! I like your costume."|
If you’ll be in Germany for Thanksgiving, and looking to spread some of your culture around alongside a plate of turkey and gravy, all you have to say is “Frohes Thanksgiving”. Good luck finding a football game though.
"Was ist Thanksgiving?"
"What is Thanksgiving?"
The perfect phrase for all seasons. Use this greeting when you are unsure what everyone seems to be celebrating, or when you are afraid of offending someone.
"Danke, Habe Schöne Ferien."
"Thank you, have a happy holiday."
Who doesn’t like a day off from work? The Germans celebrate Labor Day on May 1st. If you happen to be in Germany on this day, be sure to greet the people with this phrase, as Labor Day would be a good opportunity to make some friends. Because, everyone will be on vacation!
|"Welcher Tag ist heute?"|
"Es ist der erste Mai."
|What day is it today?
"It is the 1st of May."
"Happy Labor Day!"
Now that we have discussed the different ways to greet during different times of the day and during special occasions, let’s talk about the formal and informal ways to greet in German.
A key thing to remember is to err on the side of formality. The casual way to greet in German should only be used with family and friends. For the rest, always remember to use the formal way.
|Grüß dich||Casual hello|
|Guten Tag||Good morning or good day, but could also be used as “hello”|
|Wie geht es Ihnen?||”how are you?” (formal)|
|Wie geht es dir?||“how are you?” (Informal)|
|Es geht mir gut.||I’m fine.|
|Es geht mir besser.||I'm doing better.|
|Es geht mir schlecht.||I'm not doing well.|
|Entschuldigen Sie bitte||Excuse me (formal)|
|Entschuldigung||Excuse me (informal)|
|Auf Wiedersehen!||The standard “bye” in German|
|Tschüss!||The informal “bye” in German|
|Bis bald||See you soon!|
|Bis später||See you later!|
|Auf Wiederhören||“Bye” on the telephone|
Now let’s take a look at some more terms you could use to be polite in German.
|Wie bitte?||Pardon me?|
|(Es) Tut mit leid||I'm sorry|
|Sehr erfreut.||Pleased to meet you.|
|Freut mich.||I’m glad to meet you.|
|Mach's gut.||Take care.|
|Pass auf dich auf.||Take care of yourself.|
Now you know how to greet like a true German. Now that you can talk the talk, it’s time to start talking. So get out there and greet the world.
Want a fun way to learn German? Try German short stories with audio!
A FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO LEARN GERMAN
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Charity Johnson is a third sector worker and former secondary teacher based in the Scottish Isles. Her blog, Archipelagal, is the (re)telling of her geographical and ideological whereabouts.