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Greetings in Italian (hello, goodbye, ...)

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Greetings (I saluti) are essential in every language.

To use the right word or expression, you have to consider the context of the conversation, and what time it is.


Italian greetings list

In the following table you'll find the most common greetings in Italian.

ItalianEnglish
CiaoHello / Hi / Bye bye
SalveHello (formal context)
BuongiornoGood morning
Buon pomeriggioGood afternoon
BuonaseraGood evening
BuonanotteGoodnight
ArrivederciGoodbye

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Use of greetings in Italy

Hello in Italian (ciao) - informal context

Ciao (Hello/Hi) is the most common Italian greeting.
It is very informal, in fact it is used mostly among friends and people acquainted with each other. 

enlightenedIn Italian, "Ciao" is used both when meeting (Hi) and when leaving (Bye)


How to say how are you in informal context

After the initial greetings, let's introduce some useful expressions used to keep an informal conversation going.

ItalianEnglish
Come va? / Come stai? How are you?
(Sto) beneI'm fine 
(Sto) abbastanza beneI'm OK
(Sto) molto beneI'm really fine
(Sto) meglioI'm doing better
Non (sto) tanto beneI'm not well
(Sto) maleI'm sick / I feel bad
E tu? And you?
Grazie Thank you / Thanks
Grazie milleThank you very much
Di niente / FiguratiNot at all / Don't mention it
PregoYou're welcome
Per favore / Per piacerePlease
ScusaSorry / Excuse me
Mi dispiaceI'm sorry
Non importa / Non ti preoccupareDon't worry / Never mind


Look at the following dialogue:

 Italian English
AndreaCiao Maria!Hi Maria!
MariaCiao Andrea! Come va?Hi Andrea! How are you?
Andrea Bene, grazie. E tu, come stai?Fine thanks. And you?
MariaAbbastanza bene, grazie. I'm OK, thanks
AndreaCi vediamo più tardi. Ciao! See you later. Bye bye!
MariaA dopo. Ciao! See you later!. Bye bye!


As we can see, "Ciao" is used both at the beginning and at the end of the dialogue.


Hello in Italian (salve) - formal context

In Italian there is another way to say hello, that is the greeting salve.

It is used in formal contexts only.
It can be used instead of "buongiorno" (good morning), "buon pomeriggio" (good afternoon) and "buonasera" (good evening), regardless of the time of the day.

How to say how are you in formal context

After the initial greetings, let's introduce some useful expressions used to keep a formal conversation going.

Italian English
Come sta (Lei)?How are you?
E Lei?And you?
Di niente / Si figuriNot at all / Don't mention it
ScusiSorry / Excuse me
Non importa / Non si preoccupiDon't worry / Never mind


Look at the following dialogue:

 ItalianEnglish
Infermiera
Nurse
Salve signora Rossi, come sta oggi?Good morning Ms Rossi, how are you today?
Signora Rossi
Ms Rossi
Salve! Oggi sto meglio, grazie.Good morning! I'm doing better today, thank you.


Good morning in Italian

Buongiorno (Good morning) is used in formal situation, usually between 6 am and 12 am.

This greeting can also be used between friends (classmates, colleagues,...) when they met in the morning.
Moreover, it is also used in the afternoon until around 4 pm/5 pm.

Look at the following dialogue which takes place at 8 am.

 Italian English
Professoressa
Teacher

Buongiorno ragazzi!

Good morning!
Studenti
Students
Buongiorno ProfessoressaGood morning, Ms Jackson

 

enlightenedA common mistake among English speakers is writing "buon giorno" as two words instead of one. 
      Remember! Buongiorno → Goodmorning vs. buon giorno → good day

 

Good afternoon in Italian

Buon pomeriggio (Good afternoon) is used in formal situation after lunch time, usually between 12 am and 6 pm.

Look at the following dialogue which takes place at 3 pm.

 ItalianEnglish
Barista
Bartender
Buon pomeriggio signor Bianchi, vuole il solito?Good afternoon Mr Bianchi, do you want the usual?
Signor Bianchi
Mr Bianchi
Sì, grazie mille.Yes, thank you very much.

 

enlightenedBuon pomeriggio can be replaced by "buongiorno" until (4 pm/5 pm) and by "buonasera" (from 4 pm/5 pm)


Good evening in Italian

Buonasera (Good evening) is used after sunset, usually between 6 pm and 12 pm or generally when it's dark. 

Look at the following dialogue which takes place at 8 pm.

 ItalianEnglish
Cameriere
Waiter
Buonasera signori, accomodatevi pure.Good evening, please take a seat.
Signor Verdi
Mr Verdi
Buonasera, grazie mille.Good evening, thank you very much.

 

enlightenedUnlike "buongiorno", "buonasera" can also be written as two separated words "buona sera".
      However the one-word version is more common.

 

Goodnight in Italian

Buonanotte (Goodnight) is said as a wish before going to sleep.

Look at the following dialogue which takes place at 12 pm.

 ItalianEnglish
Miriam

Sono molto stanca, vado a dormire. Buonanotte a tutti!

I'm really tired, I'll go sleep. Goodnight everybody!
Tutti
Everybody
Buonanotte Miriam!Goodnight Miriam!

 

enlightenedAs "buonasera", "buonanotte" can also be written as two separated words "buona notte".
      However the one-word version is more common.

 

Goodbye in Italian

When leaving, the most common expression in informal situations is ciao (bye).
In more formal situations, the most common expression is arrivederci (goodbye).

Look at the following dialogue:

 ItalianEnglish
Cassiera
Cashier
Sono trentadue euro. It's thirty-two euro.
Signora Giglio
Ms Giglio
Ecco a Lei.Here you are.
Cassiera
​Cashier

Grazie e arrivederci!

Thank you, goodbye!
Signora Giglio
​Ms Giglio
Arrivederci!Goodbye!

 

Useful expressions when leaving

In the following table you will find other useful expressions that can be used when leaving (both in formal and informal contexts).

Italian English
Ci vediamo (dopo, domani...)See you (later, tomorrow...)
A dopo / A più tardi See you later
A prestoSee you soon
A tra poco See you in a while
A domaniSee you tomorrow
A staseraSee you tonight
Buona giornataHave a nice day
Addio Farewell / Goodbye

Exercises

  1. Exercise on greetings in Italian - Drag text
  2. Exercise on greetings in Italian - Flashcards
  3. Dialogues in informal situations - Single choice set
  4. Exercise on the use of greetings in Italian - Fill in the blanks
  5. Dialogue in a formal situation - Fill in the blanks

Exercise on greetings in Italian - Drag text


Exercise on greetings in Italian - Flashcards


Dialogues in informal situations - Single choice set


Exercise on the use of greetings in Italian - Fill in the blanks


Dialogue in a formal situation - Fill in the blanks


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