Saying hello and goodbye

Even though Germans also use the international “hello” or “hi” when they greet each other, traditional German greetings are more formal.

“Guten Tag,” sometimes shortened to “Tag,” is used all day long for hello. In Southern Germany the respective greeting is “Grüß Gott,” or if you are on first name basis with someone “Grüß Dich.” In Austria, people greet each other with “Servus.”

In the morning, you say “Guten Morgen” (good morning) or short “Morgen”, in the evening “Guten Abend” (good evening) or “Abend.”

“Auf Wiedersehen” means goodbye and literally translates to “until we see again”. A less formal way of saying goodbye is “Tschüs” or “Tschau” and is primarily used in Northern Germany.

Germans shake hands more than North Americans. They shake hands not only when they are being introduced but each time they see each other again. It is part of the everyday greeting and beginning of a conversation, especially for the older generation. Usually, a nod accompanies the handshake. Younger people shake hands less and hug friends instead.

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