Languages › German Formal and Informal German Greetings Share Flipboard Email Print suedhang / Getty Images German Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar By Ingrid Bauer German Language Expert M.A., German Studies, McGill University B.A., German and French Ingrid Bauer, who is fluent in German, has been teaching and tutoring the German language since 1996. She has a teaching degree and an M.A. in German studies. our editorial process Ingrid Bauer Updated November 04, 2019 Greetings - Sei(d) Gegrüßt! - The Words The following is an overview of essential German greetings (=Grüße) you need to know when encountering a German speaker. Though the casual way of addressing someone in German is included, these sayings should be reserved only for close friends and family. As a general rule, always use the more formal way of speaking when in Germany, namely with Sie (formal you) instead of du (familiar you). Reviewing the German alphabet may help with pronunciation. Hello. Hallo. Grüß dich! casualGrüß Gott! In southern Germany and Austria.Guten Tag. Hello/Good Day.Guten Morgen/Guten Abend. Good morning/evening. Bye! Auf Wiedersehen.Auf Wiederhören. Bye on the telephone.Tschüss! casualBis bald! See you soon!Bis später! See you later! How are you? Wie geht es Ihnen? formalWie geht es dir? casual I'm fine.I'm so-so.I'm not doing well.I'm doing better. Es geht mir gut.Es geht.Es geht mir schlecht.Es geht mir besser. Excuse me! Entschuldigen Sie bitte! formalEntschuldigung! casual Pardon me? Wie bitte? Please. Bitte. Thank you. Danke. I'm sorry. (Es) Tut mit leid. Really? Wirklich? Echt? Gladly! Gerne! Mit Vergnügen! Nice to meet you. Sehr erfreut. / Freut mich. Take care Mach's gut. / Pass auf dich auf. Greeting Procedures Greeting someone in German is more than just knowing the right words. It also requires you to know what actions to perform when you encounter a German. Do you kiss the other or shake hands? Try rubbing your nose with a German (and share your experience with us for a good laugh - after you have gotten over the other one's shocked reaction). Are there any differences between men and women? Handshakes I have had many students from all over the world, and I am still slightly irritated when a student doesn't offer her hand when we meet. Probably you can't go wrong offering a German a firm handshake. It is never seen as offensive. There might be people rejecting this offer of yours, but that usually indicates some health or psychological issues. Also, make sure that you apply the right pressure. If you take the other hand too softly, you might come over as very weak and timid. If you squeeze my hand to dust, well... you get the idea. It doesn't matter whether you greet a man or a woman. Try to kiss a woman's hand and in the best case, you'll get a smile back because she will find it cute or so outlandish that she's blushing on the inside. Hugs Germans do hug. I've seen it at times. But it takes a while until you get there. It might also never happen. Some German men are still quite a bit macho and consider hugs too feminine. Well, some things just take a while to think in. German women are way more open in this regard. Another tip for the adventure seekers among you: Try to hug a stranger on the street and let us know what happened. What would you expect? And by the way: Berlin is not Germany. Just in case. Kisses Greeting someone the French way is rather unusual. Even too me it feels just fake. One kiss on one cheek but make it count. Done. Next. And rather apply this form of greeting to people that are very fond of you. As a man be careful not to assume more than friendship if a friend of yours kisses you on your cheek. Secret Handshakes I honestly am already too old to play cool. If you are a youngster, go for it. The kids are still influenced a lot by the US-American hip-hop culture (That video is rather hard to watch but couldn't find a better example). Eye Contact It is totally fine to look into a German's eyes. No matter whether you meet a man or a woman. Try not to stare but don't look away either. That is considered timid and shy. And you'd come over less confident than you might actually be. It also feels really weird to talk to someone who doesn't look at you at all. You'd seem as if you didn't listen and that is considered rather rude.If you stare, most people will think that you are a psycho. In case you meet a German in your country, don't get too offended if they try to establish eye contact. Conclusion Now you are prepared to greet the Germans. A successful greeting might be the start to an eternal friendship. A failed one, well... there's ~80 million Germans. You'll get another chance. But seriously: Germans have a different need for distance and their comfort zone might differ from yours. It is wise to rather start out carefully and try how close you could get to them in the long run. The distance of a formal handshake is a good measure pf where to begin. How to Write Personal Letters in German How to Write a Letter in German: Format and Language Wishing Someone a Happy Birthday in German Small Talk: Why Germans Won't Tell You How They Feel German for Travelers: The Basic Travel Phrasebook 10 Soft Insults in German and What They Mean How to Conjugate the German Verb "Heissen" (to Call) New Year's Greetings in German, Region by Region What Is the Bavarian Dialect in German? Ways To Improve Your German German Spelling Doch ...and Other Tricky German Words How to Speak About the Family in German Everything you need to Know About German Names Learn the 4 German Noun Cases Where Does the Word 'German' Come From?