A series on how to say hello in various NaTakallam languages.

15 Ways to Say Hello in Russian

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you only know a single word in Russian, it is likely that one word is privet (привет), meaning “hello.” But did you know that this greeting is only one of the many ways you can say hello in Russian? Russian has a wide variety of expressions across the formality spectrum, which are used depending on how well the speakers know each other and the specific conversational context. From slang to professional greetings, this article will have you prepared to greet any Russian speaker you encounter.

1. Privet (Привет)
This is the most basic Russian greeting, simply meaning “hello.” This is an informal way to address anyone from friends to family members, and has the same usage as “hi” or “hey.” The response is usually the same back, but you can also mix it up with any of the other greetings below!

2. Zdravstvuite (Здравствуйте)
This is the formal version of “hello” and can be used in any situation from a doctor’s office to a day out shopping. Note that because of the formality, you would not use this with friends. In fact, this word is actually plural, meaning it can be used to greet a group of people or just a single person to whom you wish to show respect. This greeting also has a shortened informal singular form, zdravstvui (здравствуй), which you can use with people you are more familiar with. 

If you want to greet someone you are even closer to, you can shorten this word even more to zdrastee (здрасьте). Because this greeting is abbreviated, some people might see it as rude or lazy if you use it instead of one of the more proper forms. Therefore, it is best to save it for friends and people who will see it as endearing rather than offensive.

If someone says one of these greetings to you, you can use their level of formality as your cue and repeat the same form of the greeting back to them.

3. Dobroe utro/den/vecher (Доброе утро/день/вечер)
This greeting structure is based on the time of day you are using it. Just as with the English “good morning/afternoon/evening,” dobroe (доброе) means “good,” (though the literal meaning is “kind,”) and the second word designates the time of day. Utro (утро) means “morning,” and is used until noon. Den (день), literally meaning “day,” is used from noon until about 6 pm. Vecher (вечер) means “evening” and is used anytime after 6. These greetings are all quite formal, but can be used in most contexts with people you are not very close to. The response is the same phrase repeated back, or zdravstvuite (здравствуйте), since the greetings have a similar level of formality. These phrases can also be repeated at the end of the conversation, to bid someone goodbye.

An important note is that you can also say dobroe nochi (доброе нoчи), meaning “good night,” but, as in English, this is really a way to bid someone farewell in the evening, not a greeting, and has the connotation of “sleep well.”

4. Zdorovo (Здорoво) 
This greeting, literally meaning “health,” is an informal greeting that can be used to say “hey” to good friends. This word is pronounced with stress on the second syllable, unlike the word for “great/nice/cool,” zdorovo (здoрово), which is written the same way but stresses the initial syllable. Thankfully both words have a positive meaning, so even if you get the stress wrong, the worst that will happen is that your conversation partner will think you are saying they are really cool!

5. Privetik (Привeтик) 
This informal greeting is a diminutive or “cute” form of the basic privet (привет). This greeting has a playful and childlike connotation, similar to “heya!” It is best to use this greeting only with people you are really friendly with, or with children!

6. Hello (Хеллo) and Hey (Хaй) 
If you guessed these greetings came from English, you would be right! These casual greetings are popular among young people and are frequently used online, especially as access to American and Anglo culture is increasing through social media.

Another related greeting you might hear is hiyooshki (xаюшки), a “cute” version of the English loan word with a diminutive suffix. These anglicisms are definitely popular among hip young people, though not without their Russian twist! In response to these greetings, you can respond with either of these loan words, or choose another playful greeting from this list.

7. Yo! (Йо!)
This is another greeting that is likely familiar to English speakers. Yo (йо) is a very colloquial way to say “hi” to your close friends. Once again, it is popular over text and social media, but is also spoken among young people. Any casual greeting on this list would be a good response! 

8. Privyetstvuyu (Привeтствую) and Privyetstvuyu vas (Привeтствую вас)
This formal greeting literally means “I am greeting you,” like the English “greetings.” The addition of the word vas (вас), “you-plural,” is appropriate when greeting multiple people or a single person in a polite way. These greetings would be most appropriate if you were addressing an audience, such as at a conference. 

9. Allo (Алло) / Alyo (Алё) / Ello (Элло)
These words, meaning “hello,” are used only while answering the phone, but they are important to know nonetheless. They are completely interchangeable, so which one you use is based on your preference and style. The response is usually any other greeting on this list, depending on the level of acquaintance between the caller and the callee.

10. Privet, tovarish (Привет, товарищ)
This phrase, meaning, “Hello, comrade,” has Soviet roots and is slightly out of fashion in modern contexts, but you will often hear it in old films and between old friends. The English equivalent of this phrase would be, “Hello friend,” or “Hello my brother.” 

11. Kak dela? (Как дела?)
This phrase literally translates to “How are your affairs?” but has the meaning of a casual “Hey, how are you?” Though this is often asked as a question after another informal greeting, like privet (привет), it can also be used on its own if you bump into a friend on the street or have another similar casual encounter.

12. Dobro pozhalovat (Добро пожаловать)
This greeting, meaning “welcome,” will be found at the entrance of any city or region in Russia and is often said if you enter a retail environment. The literal definition is “kind staying,” so you are wishing someone a kind visit to the area or establishment. This phrase is rather formal and restricted in context, but it is certainly useful to know, especially if you are hosting a Russian speaker.

13. S priyezdom (С приездом)
You are likely to be greeted with this phrase after a long journey. Though it is best translated as a less formal “welcome,” it literally means “[congratulations] with arrival.” If you just arrived somewhere by plane, you are also likely to hear S prilyotom (С прилётом), which means “[congratulations] with your flight.” The best response to these phrases is just spasibo (cпасибо), which is the standard word for “thank you.”

14. Salam aleykum (Салáм алéйкум)
If you are an Arabic speaker, this greeting is likely to be familiar. Meaning “Peace be upon you,” this greeting is used across the Arabic-speaking and Muslim world in the context of “hello.” Islam is one of the biggest minority religions in Russia, representing about 10% of the 146 million population. It is not uncommon to hear this greeting used between friends in Russia, if they have some religious connection to Islam or an ethnic connection to a predominantly Muslim culture. This phrase can simply be repeated, but you can also say the true Arabic response, wa aleykum salam (уа алeйкум cалaм), meaning “and upon you be peace,” if you want to express true respect and reverence.

15. Skol’ko let, skol’ko zim! (Сколько лет, сколько зим!)
If you really want to sound comfortable in Russian, you can use this colorful phrase as a greeting, which means “How many summers, how many winters?” signifying it has been a long time since you have last seen each other. This greeting, though poetic, is informal and is best used with old friends! The best response is any other friendly greeting and you can catch up from there.

Are you curious about what to say after the greeting? Book a session today with one of our native Russian-speaking Language Partners at NaTakallam and start your conversational journey. By working alongside our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds, you are making a social impact with each lesson!

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saying hello in Spanish

14 Ways to Say Hello in Spanish

Reading Time: 5 minutes

You probably think you know how to greet someone in Spanish. After all, Spanish is the fourth most widely-spoken language in the world. It’s the native language of more than 450 million people, 43 million of whom reside in the USA, and the most widely taught foreign language in American schools. But this language has traveled across continents and evolved along the way, so forget what you learned in freshman year – we’re about to show you all the coolest ways to say hello in Spanish from across the Hispanic world!

1. Hola – across the Spanish-speaking world
Okay, yes, we’re starting with the basics: the one and only infamous hola. Its literal meaning is simply “hello” or “hi.” The good thing about this phrase is that it’s very neutral on the formality scale, meaning it can be used in almost every situation. Hola is used during any time of day and can be repeated back in response.

2. Pura vida – Costa Rica
Pura vida broken down translates to “pure life,” and in Costa Rica it is another way of saying “hello.” Although this is quite a casual phrase, it has very friendly connotations, so you can hear it used by everyone on the streets. An appropriate response would be to repeat pura vida back. Do note that this term is very versatile and can, for instance, be used when saying “goodbye” or replying to “How are you?” (assuming you want to answer by saying that “All is well”!)

3. Bueno – Mexico
In Spanish, bueno translates to “good,” but in this context, it is a greeting used over the phone in Mexico to mean “hello.” However, do keep in mind that this is used in a more casual scenario, when answering a call from a friend, family member or someone close to you. Bueno can then be repeated back by the caller.

4. Buenas – across the Spanish-speaking world
Buenas is a shortened form of the three phrases buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches. Respectively, they all mean “good morning,” “good afternoon” and “good evening.” Buenas is a lot less formal. When greeted with this phrase, you can respond by repeating it back, or by simply saying hola.

5. Épale – Venezuela
Exclusive to Venezuela, épale is a very informal way of greeting between people of all ages (from little kids all the way up to adults), meaning “Hi!” or “What’s up?” This can be used at any time of day and the response is usually the same or, much like buenas, can be hola.

6. ¿Qué tal? – across the Spanish-speaking world
While it’s familiar to most as “How are you?” ¿Qué tal? is very versatile in its meaning depending on the situation. It can be used as an informal greeting amongst friends and family, similar to the English “What’s up?”

7. Buenos días / Buenas tardes / Buenas noches – across the Spanish-speaking world
As previously mentioned earlier in the article, these phrases translate respectively to “good morning,” “good afternoon” and “good evening.” They are slightly more formal ways of greeting someone. Regardless of its literal meaning,  buenos días or “good day” is used strictly in the morning – though the morning is often considered to last until 2 pm! Next, as the name implies, buenas tardes is used during the afternoon. Despite the word-for-word translation of buenas noches being “good night,” it can be used to greet someone in the evening.

8. ¿Qué onda? – across Latin America
Literally translated, ¿Qué onda? means, “What wave?” However, the closest English alternative would be “What’s up?” or perhaps, “What’s the vibe?” This is quite informal and is mainly used between friends. On certain occasions, ¿Qué onda? can be used simply as a greeting, without expecting a direct answer. In that case, when greeted with ¿Qué onda?, you can repeat it back, and add on a ¿Cómo estás? (meaning “How are you?”)

9. Quihubo / Quiubo – across Latin America
Quihubo or quiubo are both a contraction of ¿Qué hubo?, meaning figuratively, “How are you doing?” or “How’s it going?” They are informal greetings, and we only recommend using them in casual conversation between friends and family. There are many ways to respond to quihubo; in Mexico in particular, it is commonplace not to repeat this greeting back. Phrases such as ¿Qué onda? can be applied instead.

10. ¿Qué bolá? – Cuba
While many of the phrases you will see in this post can be used in a variety of Spanish-speaking countries, ¿Qué bolá? is specific to Cuba. Due to the identical pronunciation of ‘b’ and ‘v’ in Spanish, bola and vola (the original word) can be used interchangeably in this greeting. Vola comes from the word volar, meaning “to fly” – so the literal translation of ¿Qué bolá? is, therefore, “How does it fly?” However, this informal greeting is in fact an equivalent of “How’s it going?” An appropriate response would be to repeat the phrase back.

11. Habla – Peru
Literally, habla means “speak” and it is a very informal way of greeting a close friend in Peru. It is used as a replacement for “hello” and is often followed up with “How are you?” Because these two phrases are so often paired together, you can simply respond by telling the person how you are.

12. Wena – Chile
In Chile, wena is an informal greeting used among friends to say “hi” or “hello.” The same can be repeated back in response.

13. Holiii – across Latin America
Holiii is a derivative of hola. It is considered a very cute and informal greeting, a bit like “hiiii!” It is used among teenagers and young adults, and can be repeated back in response – alternatively, hola can be used as well.

14. Oye – across the Spanish-speaking world
It literally means “hear,” but in use it’s similar to the English “hey!” Not only is it used as a way to greet someone, but also as a way to grab someone’s attention. Due to its informality, oye is best applied in situations when talking to someone your age or younger. A correct way to respond would be with hola.

Not sure why you should even be learning Spanish? Here are five solid reasons. Or maybe you want more phrases to add to your vocabulary? Learn five creative ways to say “I love you” in Spanish!

Finally, fancy brushing up on your Spanish while making a social impact? Sign up here to kick-start your language journey with NaTakallam. Based on your language-learning needs and aspirations, you’ll be paired up with one of our fantastic, native-speaking Language Partners from displaced backgrounds. Make a friend for life AND discover a new culture. Vamos!

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11 Ways to Say Hello in French

Reading Time: 5 minutesOne of the first things we are taught when starting a new language is basic greetings. Textbooks, however, often fail to introduce the variety of ways we can express a simple “Hello!” In reality, a greeting will often change depending on the time of day, the formality of the situation, and the region you are speaking in–this last is particularly true of French! Ranging from Swiss to Haitian, young to old, here are many different ways you can greet someone in French like a true native!

1. Bonjour – across the francophone world

One of the first things we are taught when starting a new language is basic greetings. Textbooks, however, often fail to introduce the variety of ways we can express a simple “Hello!” In reality, a greeting will often change depending on the time of day, the formality of the situation, and the region you are speaking in–this last is particularly true of French! Ranging from Swiss to Haitian, young to old, here are many different ways you can greet someone in French like a true native!

2. Bonsoir – across the francophone world

When broken down, bonsoir literally means “good evening” – bon equating to “good” and soir, to “evening.” As the name implies, the use of bonsoir is exclusive to evening greetings, after about 6 pm and often in more formal situations. For instance, a waiter at a restaurant may approach you at dinner with a bonsoir. The same word can be repeated back to them in response.

3. The Double Meanings of Salut and Ça va ? – across the francophone world

Some of the first greetings taught in school French classes all over the world are salut (meaning “greeting” and related to the English word “salute,” but similar in use to “hi”) and ça va ? (equivalent to “how are you?”). However, many fail to mention their other meanings.

As well as “hi,” salut is also an informal way of saying “bye.” In addition, Ça va ? is another way of saying “I’m fine.” So responding to the question of Ça va ? is very easy; just repeat it! Ça va, et toi/et vous ? (Et toi ? means “And you?”- toi is used with family or friends whereas vous is more formal)

4. Quoi de neuf? – across the francophone world

Used in casual settings, Quoi de neuf ? translates to “What’s up?” or, more literally, “What’s new?” (Note that neuf can mean both “nine” or “new” depending on its context.) This is a very common conversation starter, which has similar implications to “How are you?” Therefore, an appropriate answer, given the informality of the situation, would be Ça va (“I’m fine”).

5. Coucou – France

Without a doubt less formal than the standard bonjour, coucou is a sweet and affectionate way of saying “hi, there.” Coucou’s original meaning translates to “peek-a-boo,” and thus it’s still commonly used when greeting or playing with a child. Although not very typical among adults, many will still use it on the street and in texts or emails to greet friends.

While coucou can simply be replied back, it is also correct to respond with salut or bonjour.

6. Jourbon – France

How good would an article on French greetings be without a little verlan thrown in, just to confuse everyone? The definition of verlan can be found in its name – verlan is the inversion of l’envers, meaning “the reverse.” The essence of verlan is, thus, the act of splitting up a word according to its syllables and switching them around. For instance, if we split up bonjour and swap the two constructions together, we are left with jourbon.

Verlan was originally created as a means to maintain the confidentiality of illegal proceedings. However, it has now evolved and become a common form of slang, first used by young people living in the suburbs (banlieues) of French towns, and has now spread to most young people who continue to keep up with new terms.

7. Ciao – Switzerland

Although this greeting is often attributed to the Italian language, the French-speaking Swiss (who make up about 1.9 million of the country’s population) are also known to say ciao, meaning “hi” as well as “bye.” This greeting is widespread and very casual. The response can be the same back, or the alternative casual greeting, salut.

8. Adieu – Switzerland

Although this greeting is often attributed to the Italian language, the French-speaking Swiss (who make up about 1.9 million of the country’s population) are also known to say ciao, meaning “hi” as well as “bye.” This greeting is widespread and very casual. The response can be the same back, or the alternative casual greeting, salut.

9. Bon matin – Quebec

The dialect present in the Canadian province of Quebec retains many aspects of the French that was spoken in Paris during the 17th-18th centuries. While mainland French uses bonjour to mean both “good morning” and “good afternoon,” bon matin still exists in contemporary Québécois. The word-for-word translation of bon matin is “good morning”; bon means “good” and matin means “morning.”

10. Bonjou and Bonswa – Haitian creole

From the title of this greeting, you might notice that a special element of Haitian Creole is the strong presence of phonetic spelling, meaning that a word is often written the way it’s pronounced.

Starting with bonjou! This greeting derives from its mainland French counterpart bonjour, meaning “hello.” However, while the French bonjour is used to greet people in the morning and afternoon, in Haiti, bonjou would be applied exclusively in the morning.

Bonswa, on the other hand, would be used to greet someone in the afternoon and evening. Its mainland French alternative, bonsoir, literally translating to “good evening,” is only appropriate after sunset. A correct response to both bonjou and bonswa is simply to repeat the greeting back to the other person.

11. C’est comment? – Côte d’Ivoire

This greeting is owed to a type of Côte d’Ivoirian slang, known as Nouchi, which appeared in its capital, Abidjan, in the 1980s. When inquiring about someone’s wellbeing, you can use C’est comment? equating to “What’s up?” This is used regardless of the time of day.

Some common replies include Voilà moi, meaning “Here I am,” a directive for the other person to look at you and see for themselves. Ya foye and Il n’y a rien imply that “Everything is fine.” Alternatively, if things aren’t going too great, you can opt for C’est mou or C’est djinzin.

Anxious to try out some of these greetings? Book a session today with one of our native French Language Partners at NaTakallam and kickstart your linguistic journey. Your interest enables our skilled tutors to support themselves by passing on their knowledge, while also creating friendships beyond borders.

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Different ways to say hello in Persian

7 Ways to Say Hello in Persian

Reading Time: 4 minutesEver find yourself stuck, wanting to go beyond the basic Persian greeting, Salam (سلام)? You’re in the right place! In this article we’ll cover all of the different ways you can greet someone throughout the day, as well as some common responses to look out for. Like many Indo-European languages, greetings may change depending on the formality of a situation, so make sure to look out for context clues!

1. Salam (سلام)

Translating simply to “hello,” this is the most common greeting in Persian. Salam (سلام) literally means “peace,” and the response back would generally be the same. It is shortened from the original Arabic greeting salam-aleykom (سلام عليكم), meaning “peace be upon you,” though this full phrase can also be used in Persian in more formal settings, with a slight change in pronunciation: salamalaikom (سلام‌علیکم).

2. Sobh bekheir (صبح بخير) 

If this also sounds familiar, you must know a little bit of Arabic! This Persian phrase for “good morning” bears a significant resemblance to its Arabic counterpart, sabah al-khair (صباح الخير). The typical reply would be the same words, repeated back. Sobh bekheir is the singular form, used when you’re talking to one other person. To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say sobh-e-toon bekheir (صبحتون بخير), to which the response could be the same, the singular form sobh bekheir, or sobh-e shoma ham bekheir (صبح شما هم بخير), meaning “good morning to you, too.” Among older generations of Persian speakers, you may hear another response: aqebat bekheir (عاقبت بخیر), meaning “good ending.”

Kindly note that Persian speakers from Afghanistan (speakers of the Dari dialect) tend to pronounce the word “bekheir” as bakhair, though the Persian script stays the same.

3. Zohr bekheir (ظهر بخير)

Meaning “good afternoon,” this phrase is also derived from Arabic. This greeting can be used from noon until around 3 pm, and the same words would be replied back. To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say, zohr-e-toon bekheir (ظهرتون بخير). To this, one would reply zohr-e-shoma ham bekheir (ظهر شما هم بخير), meaning “good afternoon to you, too.” Once again, this is the Farsi pronunciation used in Iran; speakers of Dari would pronounce this phrase as zohr bakhair.

4. Asr bekheir (عصر بخیر) 

Moving on from the previous greeting, asr bekheir is used in the second half of the afternoon from roughly 3 pm until sunset. Translating more or less to “good late afternoon,” this greeting is historically tied to one of the daily Muslim prayers that goes by the same name, asr (عصر). The typical response would be the same words repeated back, asr bekheir (عصر بخیر). To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say asr-e-toon bekheir (عصرتون بخير). To this, one would reply asr-e-shoma ham bekheir (عصر شما هم بخير), meaning “good late afternoon to you, too.” Speakers of Dari would say this greeting as asr bakhair.

5. Vaght bekheir (وقت بخیر) 

This phrase literally translates to “good time,” or “may your time be well,” and can be used as a greeting at any time of the day, similar to the English phrase “good day.”  The same words can be replied back. Meanwhile, in formal settings, when addressing a group of people, or when speaking to an elder, one would use the phrase vaght-e-toon bekheir (وقتتون بخير), to which the response would be vaght-e-shoma ham bekheir (وقت شما هم بخير), meaning “good day to you, too.” Again, tweak the bekheir to bakhair when speaking in Dari Persian.

6. Rooz bekheir (روز بخير)

Much like the previous phrase, the greeting rooz bekheir (روز بخير) can be used at any time of the day, as it simply means “good day.” To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say rooz-e-toon bekheir (روزتون بخير), which would be followed by the response rooz-e-shoma ham bekheir (روز شما هم بخير), or “good day to you, too.” Make sure to tweak the bekheir to bakhair in all instances when speaking in Dari Persian.

7. Dorood (درود)

This Persian word is a formal greeting, commonly heard on the radio and television. Interestingly, this is the only word in our list of greetings that comes from Old Persian (also known as Avestan), which predates the Arabic influence on the language. 

Hopefully, you are now feeling more confident with your ability to greet people in Persian under a variety of circumstances! If you are interested in exploring what comes after the greeting, consider studying Persian with NaTakallam. Choose between the Farsi and Dari dialects, and work alongside our brilliant native language tutors from displaced communities, building bridges and friendships. 

Book a session today to kickstart your language-learning journey!

Copywriting: Gina Bagnolo.
Copyediting: Yasmine, Emmy, Tara, Mikaela.

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