Creating a good first impression is important, so you’ll want to say hello to people properly. It’s not just about what you say, though, it’s making sure you know the correct etiquette when meeting people.
German people are quite formal when initially introduced, shaking hands upon meeting and parting. Friends and relatives will often greet each other with a kiss on the cheek.
Just as in English, there are several ways to say hello in German. You can simply use the informal Hallo (hi) on its own. You can also use Guten Morgen (good morning), Guten Tag (good afternoon) or Guten Abend (good evening). You would only use Gute Nacht (good night) at bedtime. In Bavaria and Austria, a popular greeting is Grüß Gott which literally means God’s greetings.
German people can be addressed by either Herr or Frau and their surname; note that Fräulein is no longer commonly used. If you meet people with titles such as Herr Professor Doktor or Frau Doktor, it is polite to use their full title.
When leaving, the general form is Auf Wiedersehen (goodbye), although Tschüss can be used to mean bye, and Auf Wiederschauen is also used in the South. Informally, you will probably want to say something like Bis später! See you later!, Bis morgen! See you tomorrow! or Bis Montag! See you on Monday!
Of course, when you’re introduced to someone, you need to know how to reply. Very often people just reply with the same thing that has been said to them.
Guten Morgen, Franz! – Guten Morgen, Helmut!
Good morning, Franz! – Good morning, Helmut!
If you want to express your pleasure at having met someone, you can say:
Schön Sie kennenzulernen. Nice to have met you.
More informally, you might say:
Freut mich. Pleased to meet you.
You may well want to be a bit more effusive with friends, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve seen them.
Es war richtig schön, dich wiederzusehen! It was really lovely to see you again!
Wir haben uns lange nicht gesehen. We haven’t seen each other for ages.
Now you’ve overcome the first hurdle, come back for the next blog post to help you continue with the conversation!