Greetings and Goodbyes in Spanish

There’s so much more to greeting someone in Spanish than a simple “hola” and “adiós.” Sure, those are a good start, but it’s better to prepare yourself for the variety of phrases you’ll hear from native Spanish-speakers. What’ll you do if someone greets you with a “Hola, ¿qué tal?” or a “¿Cómo te va?

No matter where you go, locals appreciate it when they see you’re making an effort to communicate with them. That’s why it’s essential to learn some of the most common ways of saying hello and goodbye in Spanish.

The Most Common Greetings in Spanish

How to say “Good Morning” in Spanish

“Buenos días” is probably one of the easiest Spanish phrases to remember. It can be used as a greeting in the morning or just before noon. 

How to say “Good Afternoon” in Spanish 

“Buenas tardes” is another standard Spanish greeting used in all Spanish-speaking countries, meaning “good afternoon.” Alternatively, you can shorten this to simply “buenas.”

¿Qué onda?

Spanish and Go

How to say “What’s Up” in Spanish

“¿Qué onda?” is a very Mexican way to say, “What’s up?” It is extensively used in casual or informal situations between friends. Use this phrase with your friends, close relatives, and people of your age or younger. Avoid using this phrase with someone older than you or with people you want to show respect. It’s the equivalent to “What’s up?” in English. 

How to say “How are you?” in Spanish. 

¿Cómo estás?

Spanish and Go

“¿Cómo estás?” is the most common greeting after “Hola” and “Buenos días.” It’s very general, and you can use it in pretty much any situation. Use “¿Cómo estás?” with friends and anyone who’s your age or younger. Use “¿Cómo está?” with someone who’s older than you, or someone you want to show more respect to, like your boss, your friend’s grandparents, or your girl/boyfriend’s parents.

How to say “How’s it going?” in Spanish

¿Qué tal?

Spanish and Go

“¿Qué tal?” is also a very general greeting. You can use this with anyone, regardless of age or how well you know them, as it works for formal and informal settings. It’s a prevalent way of greeting someone, widely used between locals in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. 

¿Cómo te va?

Spanish and Go

Another way of saying “How’s it going?” in Spanish is “¿Cómo te va?”  It is almost the same as “¿Qué tal?” and can be used with friends or anyone who is your age or younger. If you are talking to someone older than you or someone you want to show more respect to, use the formal version, “¿Cómo le va?”

How to say “What’s new?” in Spanish

¿Qué cuentas?

Spanish and Go

“¿Qué cuentas?” is a very casual and informal phrase you can use with close friends or family members who are your age or younger. It means “What’s new?” and it’s generally used when you haven’t seen the other person for a while.

Common Goodbyes in Spanish

How to say “Goodbye” in Spanish

“Adiós” is used as often as “bye” is in English, and you can use it in any situation, with anyone. It literally translates as “To God” (A Dios) in English.

Adiós

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Cuídate

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How to say “Take care” in Spanish

“Cuídate” for informal and “Cuídese” for the formal version is used when you’re talking to someone older than you or someone you want to show more respect. Depending on the context, this phrase can also mean “Be careful.”

How to say “See you later” in Spanish

“Hasta luego” or “Nos vemos” are two prevalent ways to say goodbye to someone you’re probably going to see again sometime in the future. They both mean pretty much the same thing and can be used formally or informally. They mean, “until later,” or “see you later.”

Hasta luego

Spanish and Go

Nos vemos

Spanish and Go

How to say “Have a good day” in Spanish

Que tengas un buen día

Spanish and Go

“Que tengas un buen día” is another ubiquitous phrase which means “Have a good day.” Use “Que tenga un buen día” for formal settings.

How to say “I wish you well” in Spanish

Que le vaya bien

Spanish and Go

“Que te vaya bien” is also very common, but there is no exact English equivalent. It’s like saying, “have a good day,” but it literally means “I hope it goes well,” or “I wish you well.” Use this phrase when you’re saying goodbye to someone who’s leaving the place where you’ve met up or when you’re both leaving.

Sample Spanish Conversations With Translations 

Read through these scenarios where the above common Spanish greetings and goodbyes are used. It’s good to have a few Spanish phrases up your sleeve, even if it’s just a simple “hola” and “adios.” 

Jim: Hola, May ¿qué onda?
May: ¿Qué onda? ¿Cómo estás?
Jim: Bien, ¿Y tú?
May: Tambien, pues cuídate.
Jim: Sí, tú también.
May: Adiós.
Jim: Nos vemos.

Jim: Hi May, what’s up?
May: What’s up? How are you?
Jim: I’m good, and you?
May: Me too. Well, take care.
Jim: Yeah, you too.
May: Goodbye.
Jim: See you.

 When someone asks you how are you, and you want to ask them back, instead of saying “¿Qué onda?” or “¿Cómo estás?” you can say “¿Y tú?” which is also a polite way to ask how the other person is doing. 

Jim: Hola, ¿qué tal?
May: Bien, ¿y tú? ¿Qué tal?
Jim: Muy bien, gracias.
May: Bueno, nos vemos.
Jim: Nos vemos.

Jim: Hi, how is it going?
May: It’s going well, you?
Jim: Pretty well, thanks.
May: Okay, see you.
Jim: See you.

“Muy bien” which means “pretty well,” is another common way to answer “how are you?”

May: Jaime, ¿qué cuentas?
Jim: Aquí no más caminando, ¿y tú?
May: También, aquí paseando.
Jim: Bueno, nos vemos.
May: Cuídate.

May: Jaime, what’s new?
Jim: Now much, just here walking.
May: Me too, just here going for a walk.
Jim: Well, see you.
May: Take care.

“Aquí nomás” is a very informal phrase that means “not much” or “just hanging out.” 

“También aquí” is a common way to answer “Aquí nomás, ¿y tú?” which simply means “me too, just here.”

The following are conversations used in a formal setting. It would be best if you considered keeping it formal when talking to someone older or in a position of power that is greater than yours.

Dr. Larios:Dr. Fernández, ¿verdad?
Dr. Fernández: Sí, mucho gusto.
Dr. Larios: Mucho gusto, soy la doctora Larios.
Dr. Fernández: ¿Cómo está?
Dr. Larios: Muy bien, ¿y usted?
Dr. Fernández: Muy bien también.
Dr. Larios: Que gusto saludarlo.
Dr. Fernández: Igualmente. Que tenga un buen día.
Dr. Larios: Adios.
Dr. Fernández: Adios.

Dr. Larios: Dr. Fernandez, right?
Dr. Fernandez: Yes, nice to meet you.
Dr. Larios: Nice to meet you. I’m Dr. Larios.
Dr. Fernandez: How are you?
Dr. Larios:: It’s going pretty well, and you?
Dr. Fernandez: Pretty well, too.
Dr. Larios:: It’s nice to see you.
Dr. Fernandez: Likewise. Have a good day.
Dr. Larios:: Goodbye.
Dr. Fernandez: Goodbye.

When you meet someone for the first time, you can “Soy…” or “Me llamo…” and then your name. They both mean “I am,” the literal translation of which is “I call myself.”

“It’s really nice to see/greet you” in formal Spanish is “Qué gusto saludarlo” or “Qué gusto saludarla” when you are talking to a woman. You can say “Qué gusto saludarte” which can be used for both men and women in an informal conversation. 

“Igualmente” and “Usted también” both mean “likewise,” which are often used in small talk. 

Papá: Buenas tardes, ¿es usted la maetra Mayra?
Maestra: Sí, mucho gusto.
Papá: Mucho gusto, soy el papá de Santiago, ¿cómo le va?
Maestra: Ah, muy bien. Voy apurada al trabajo.
Papá: Bueno que le vaya bien. Mucho gusto en conocerla.
Maestra: Igualmente. Hasta luego.
Papá: Hasta luego.

Father: Good afternoon. Are you teacher Mayra?
Teacher: Yes, nice to meet you.
Father: Nice to meet you. I’m Santiago’s father. How is it going?
Teacher: Ah, pretty well. I’m in a hurry to go to work.
Father: Ok, have a good day. Nice to meet you.
Teacher: Likewise, see you later.
Father: See you later.

“¿Es usted…?” followed by the name of the person or their occupation is a good phrase to use when you’re not sure if you’re talking to the right person.

“Nice to meet you” in formal Spanish is “Mucho gusto en conocerla”  if you are talking to a woman or “Mucho gusto en conocerlo” for a man. You can also keep it short with “Mucho gusto” and can be used for both men and women. 

Hombre: Disculpe.
Mujer: Dígame.
Hombre: Buenas tardes.
Mujer: Buenas tardes.
Hombre: Este es el camión del tour?
Mujer: No, el camión del tour es el rojo que está allá.
Hombre: Oh ok, muy bien. Muchas gracias.
Mujer: ¡Ándale, que le vaya bien!
Hombre: Adiós.
Mujer: Adiós.

Man: Excuse me.
Woman: Yes, tell me.
Man: Good afternoon.
Woman: Good afternoon.
Man: Is this the tour bus?
Woman: No, the tour bus is the red one over there.
Man: Oh, okay, good. Thanks a lot.
Woman: Yeah, have a good day.
Man: Goodbye.
Woman: Goodbye.

“Disculpe,” which means “Excuse me,” is a great word to use when addressing someone you don’t know. It is polite and can be used in any situation. Use “Disculpe” with people you want to show respect to or who are older than you and “Disculpa” if you are talking to someone who looks your age or younger.

Non-Verbal Greetings in Spanish

In Mexico, hugging and kissing are common social-polite gestures when greeting a friend or someone. Here are some of the Mexican etiquettes you should remember. 

  1. Hug the other person by the shoulder.
  2. If you opt to kiss them, slightly press your cheek against theirs. No lip contact is necessary 
  3. If you are a male greeting another male, a handshake or sometimes a hug is all you need. 
  4. If you are a female greeting another female, you can hug or kiss her on the cheek.

These everyday common Spanish greetings and goodbyes will help you on your language learning journey and can serve as your guide when conversing with native Spanish-speakers. Are you ready to take the next step on your Spanish journey? Join us on a Spanish immersion retreat in Mexico, or sign up for our course Travel Spanish Confidence.

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