• Italian course for beginners (A1)
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  • 1 Greetings in Italian (hello, goodbye, ...) [0/5]
  • 2 How to introduce yourself in Italian (my name is...) [0/6]
  • 3 Asking and telling the time in Italian [0/5]
  • 4 Days of the week, months and holidays in Italian [0/6]
  • 5 How to talk about your family in Italian [0/6]
  • 6 House, rooms, furniture in Italian [0/14]
  • 7 The weather in Italian [0/5]
  • 8 Body parts in Italian [0/12]
  • 9 Clothes in Italian (shoes, accessories, fashion) [0/13]
  • 10 The colours in Italian [0/5]
  • 11 Countries and nationalities in Italian [0/6]
  • 12 Describing someone in Italian (adjectives, body) [0/9]
  • 13 Feelings and emotions in Italian (I love you) [0/7]
  • 14 Food names in Italian [0/9]
  • 15 How to order food at the restaurant in Italian [0/6]
  • 16 Animals and pets in Italian [0/14]
  • 17 Nature in Italian [0/5]
  • 18 School in Italian [0/6]
  • 19 Jobs and professions in Italian [0/6]
  • 20 The city and asking for directions in Italian [0/7]
  • 21 Hobbies and sports in Italian [0/5]
  • 22 Health in Italian [0/5]
  • 23 Wishes and proverbs in Italian [0/4]
  • Greetings in Italian (hello, goodbye, ...)

    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.

    Italian English
    Ciao Hello / Hi / Bye bye
    Salve Hello (formal context)
    Buongiorno Good morning
    Buon pomeriggio Good afternoon
    Buonasera Good evening
    Buonanotte Goodnight
    Arrivederci Goodbye


    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.

    Italian English
    Come va? / Come stai?  How are you?
    (Sto) bene I'm fine 
    (Sto) abbastanza bene I'm OK
    (Sto) molto bene I'm really fine
    (Sto) meglio I'm doing better
    Non (sto) tanto bene I'm not well
    (Sto) male I'm sick / I feel bad
    E tu?  And you?
    Grazie  Thank you / Thanks
    Grazie mille Thank you very much
    Di niente / Figurati Not at all / Don't mention it
    Prego You're welcome
    Per favore / Per piacere Please
    Scusa Sorry / Excuse me
    Mi dispiace I'm sorry
    Non importa / Non ti preoccupare Don't worry / Never mind


    Look at the following dialogue:

      Italian  English
    Andrea Ciao Maria! Hi Maria!
    Maria Ciao Andrea! Come va? Hi Andrea! How are you?
    Andrea  Bene, grazie. E tu, come stai? Fine thanks. And you?
    Maria Abbastanza bene, grazie.  I'm OK, thanks
    Andrea Ci vediamo più tardi. Ciao!  See you later. Bye bye!
    Maria A 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 figuri Not at all / Don't mention it
    Scusi Sorry / Excuse me
    Non importa / Non si preoccupi Don't worry / Never mind


    Look at the following dialogue:

      Italian English
    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 Professoressa Good 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.

      Italian English
    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.

      Italian English
    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.

      Italian English
    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:

      Italian English
    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 presto See you soon
    A tra poco  See you in a while
    A domani See you tomorrow
    A stasera See you tonight
    Buona giornata Have a nice day
    Addio  Farewell / Goodbye

    Exercises

    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