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German greetings!


The topic of greetings and goodbyes is considered a basic one in German; it is often a good point to start learning the language. The relevance of this topic is due to its key role in the communication culture.    

Yet what is the role of greetings in the conversation? Firstly, it sets the mood for the entire conversation as a whole. It represents a kind of start to the conversation and the follow-up message.

A few other purposes of greetings are the removal of hostility, establishing sympathy and the right contact. It is due to these reasons that it would be reasonable to coordinate your greeting (and the farewell) along with the tone of a conversation.

Greetings in German, as well as in other languages, fall into two types:

  • Oral;
  • Written.

Both variants are pretty common for the modern pace of life, be it daily situations and all spheres of our lives: at home, at work, while traveling, etc. In Austria, greeting strangers, i.e. watchmen, shop assistants, parking space or cafe workers is quite typical. The greeting is accompanied by a smile. It does not oblige people to forcefully proceed with a conversation; moreover, this greeting does not even imply any farewell. This is only a token of manners and goodwill.

The Germans use all kinds of greetings, depending on the situation, and each region has its own distinctive greetings typical of this specific region. Like in Russian, there are four expressions, depending on the time of day: morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Today, however, we would like to introduce you to the most common greeting expressions in the German language, which will be relevant when talking to any German-speaking person, regardless of your location.

That said, the list of greetings in German is not limited to the commonplace ‘Hallo’. In fact, if you have a few greetings at hand, you will have a chance to pleasantly surprise your interlocutors. For more thorough consolidation of these expressions, it is recommended to listen to their pronunciation through special programs that are aimed at developing the correct pronunciation.

List of greeting expressions in German for every occasion:  

  • "Hallo!" - This greeting has a less informal meaning than in Russian. Thus, it can be used very often, and therefore is very common. It is used in most cases. Thus, you can greet both friends and a seller in a store, a doctor in a polyclinic or a restaurant employee.
  • "Grüsse Sie!" - is literally translated as: ‘Greetings to you!’, with ‘you’ used to refer to several people, not a single person. This greeting is appropriate almost in any conversation.
  • "Guten Morgen! Morgen!" - which is used to wish a good morning to the interlocutor, i.e. it should best be used before noon. Moreover, this greeting is appropriate only before 10 a.m. in some parts of Austria. Both variants are applicable: the full form and the shortened one. The shortened greeting ‘Morgen’ is more often used in colloquial speech.
  • "Guten Tag! Tag!" - corresponds to the Russian ‘Good afternoon!’ or ‘Hello!’ and should best be used from noon to 6 p.m. The shortened version is also used in colloquial speech, and the full form is appropriate in more formal settings.
  • "Mahlzeit!" - ‘Hello! Bon appetit!’. This expression is in place when greeting those sitting at a table, during lunch breaks, etc.
  • "Grüss Gott!" - official ‘Hello!’, appropriate at any time of the day. It can be noted that this greeting is especially used in the southern regions of Austria.
  • "Moin!" - This greeting is not official and means ‘Hello!’. It is used as part of a dialect in the northern regions of Austria.
  • "Hey!", "Hoi!", "Jo!", "Na!" - are also variations of ‘Hello!’.
  • "Guten Abend!" - is a greeting used after 6 p.m..

A point to be kept in mind is that greeting should be accompanied by the name of a person you intend to converse with. Another point worth remembering is that in Austria they tend to use either first name or last name, since there are no patronymic names in Austria. After a courteous greeting, it is the right time to proceed with a conversation.  

Having managed the greeting, it is the right point to ask the conversation partner about how he is doing and so on. Examples of standard questions and answers are the following phrases:

  • "Wie geht es ihnen?" – which means ‘How do you do?’ in Russian. This expression is considered formal. The typical response is ‘Gut, danke.’- ‘Fine, thanks’.
  • "Geht es Ihnen gut?" – literal translation: ‘Are you doing good?’. Response: ‘Es geht mir sehr gut.’ – this expression is usually translated as follows: ‘I am doing pretty good’.

In addition to verbal greetings, non-verbal physical greetings are essential in Austria. The Germans prefer a handshake rather than a kiss on the cheek as a welcome gesture, which is quite common throughout Europe.

Another characteristics of greetings in Austria is the use of such titles as:

  • "Herr" - "Mr.";
  • "Frau" - "Mrs.";
  • "Dr" - "Dr.".

All these titles are followed by the last name of an interlocutor.

In everyday Austria greetings are used much more often compared to the Russian-speaking countries. At the same time, greetings do not always imply a long conversation. Moreover, greetings are often used as a manifestation of manners and goodwill.

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