Ways to Say Hello in Greek

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One of the first phrases you need to get a handle on in Greek is how to greet another person. However, greeting somebody in the Greek language might be a little bit more involved than you’d expect. There are not only several ways to say “hello” in Greek, but phrases that mean other things are often used as greetings, as well.

Typical Greetings Used in Greece

Χαίρετε (Herete)

This is a formal way of saying hello. It isn’t really used in Greece unless you’re in formal settings and while addressing people of importance or rank, such as clergy, politicians, teachers, and those with military rank. In any of these situations, the more informal ways of saying “hello” would be acceptable if you were told to address them informally or if you have a personal relationship with them.

Γεια σου (Ya Sou)

This is one of the more common ways to great people in Greece. It is used in a variety of situations, such as greeting a friend or relative or saying hello as you walk into a shop or restaurant. It is often shortened to just Γεια (Ya), which is the equivalent of saying “hi” or “hey”. Γεια σου (Ya Sou) and Γεια (Ya) can also be used to say “goodbye” after your time with an individual is over. If you are greeting more than one person, you can say “Γεια 

Καλημέρα (Kali Mera)

This literally means good morning or good day. It is used as a greeting in the early hours of the day as a replacement for hello. While visiting Greece, you’ll notice people addressing each other with “Kali Mera” as they walk into shops or restaurants. Typically, it is used as a greeting only before noon, or 12 PM.

Καλησπέρα (Kali Spera)

Καλησπέρα (Kali Spera) means “good afternoon” and is used in the same way that “Kali Mera” is. This is a typical greeting in Greece after 12 PM and before the night begins.

καληνυχτα (Kali Nikta)

καληνυχτα (Kali Nikta) literally means “good night”. This phrase is only rarely used as a greeting. Rather, it is commonly used as a “good bye” to close out the night. For example, as you leave a taverna or bar to go back to your hotel, you can say καληνυχτα (Kali Nikta) as you walk out the door.

How to Greet People in Greece

There’s some etiquette involved with greeting people in Greece. First of all, it is customary to make a greeting as you walk into a shop, restaurant, or other establishment in Greece. Seek the person out and if they greet you first, simply repeat the greeting back to them. If they don’t greet you first, saying Γεια σου, Καλημέρα, or Καλησπέρα is acceptable.

When it comes to greeting people in the Greek language, it all depends on the situation you’re in. Make sure to select the perfect word!

The Learn Greek section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand the conversational basics of the Greek language. This article is not a substitute for a professional Greek learning program, but a helpful resource for people wanting to learn simple communication in Greek.

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