In this post, we will introduce some useful phrases to greet and say goodbye people in Italian. The greeting phrases should be selected carefully depending on what time of day. Moreover, we should pay attention to the level of formality which is dependent on either an occasion or whom you are talking to. In this tutorial you will know about:
Let’s get started.
When to use Informal/ formal speech
If you meet a friend, a colleague or a little boy or girl, you use informal expressions. However, if you go to a service location, for e.g. a bar, a restaurant, a hotel, you should use formal expressions to talk to the staff working there. This rule is also applied when you go to public administration offices, such as a hospital, commune offices, or when you talk to a senior person at your workplace or to a person you meet for the first time.
Salve/ Buongiorno/ Buon pomeriggio/ Buona sera/ Ciao
Salve literally means “hello”. “Salve” is used for greeting people in a formal way at any time of day.
Buongiorno literally means “hello” (formal) or “good morning” (informal). Buongiorno is commonly used from morning until after lunch. In particular, buongiorno with the meaning “hello” is used as a formal way to greet people for the first meeting or for a situation in which the formality speech is preferable, such as, a bar, post office, hospital, etc. On the other hand, buongiorno is also used to informally express “good morning” to friends, colleagues, family, etc..
Buon pomeriggio is used to say “good afternoon” from 13:00 to 17:00. In the South, it is commonly used after finishing lunch.
Buonasera is used to say “good evening” from 17:00 or 18:00 to 21:00.
Ciao, which means “hi” or “bye”, can be used to greet and goodbye people informally at any time of day.
Buona serata/ Buona notte/ Arrivederci/ ArrivederLa
Buona serata is used when saying goodbye in the evening when the time is still early with respect to the bed time.
Buona notte is used to exchange “good night” before going to bed.
Arrivederci is used to say “goodbye” in a formal way.
Arrivederla also means “goodbye” but it has an extra polite. This way of saying goodbye is primarily used in the shop, restaurant, and other public places.
Ciao, which means “bye”, is used to in an informal context.
Other words “a dopo” or “ci sentiamo/vediamo dopo” are commonly used to say bye and they will meet again shortly later in the same day.
In this tutorial, we have learnt several useful phrases for greetings in Italian. We also distinguished the level of formality in some Italian phrases and how to use them accordingly. In the next tutorial, we will show how to introduce oneself in Italian.
About the author
Nguyen has studied in Italy since 2012. She is very passionate in learning Italian by exploring Italy’s rich culture, nature and local products. She finds herself fortunated to study and live in a beautiful country in the middle of the Mediterranean sea where it shares many similarities in culture with her homeland. She, therefore, launched this educational blog semprelearn.com to share her experience in studying Italian and other things.