Salutations in Spanish

Jun 21, 2021

Salutations in spanish are very important when learning a foreign language. They are used to show respect and kindness for other individuals and they help to trigger positive and enjoyable conversations.

The most basic greeting in Spanish which is “hola” can help you build new friendships or it can even bring a big smile to a stranger. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? In addition, salutations in spanish are very easy to learn. You just need to put some effort into memorizing them and stay motivated. Are you ready to impress native speakers right from the beginning of your encounter with them? Keep reading. You need to bear in mind that Spanish greetings vary greatly depending on the situation.

Spanish sentence structure

You might already know some of the most basic greetings in Spanish but a quick refreshing is always good. Here’s a list of the three most common salutations in Spanish that are used depending on the time of the day followed by their English translation as well as some basic rules to use them correctly: 

  • Buenos días (good morning): it is generally used right from the moment someone wakes up until midday. A simple “buenos días” can brighten up someone’s day. 
  • Buenas tardes (good afternoon): it is normally used after midday until sunset. 
  • Buenas noches (good evening): it is used after sunset. The trickiest part is that in Spanish we use “buenas noches” as a greeting as long as it’s the right time of the day whereas in English “good night” is used when you are about to go to sleep. 

Unlike Spanish, in English you generally don’t say “good night” as a greeting. In Spanish we use “buenas noches” as a greeting as long as it’s the right time of the day even if you are not supposed to go to sleep. Also note that Spanish salutations are used in the plural form. 

We’ll now consider some other ways of greeting in Spanish. For instance, instead of using “buenos días”, you can use the shortened form which is “buenas”. This form is normally used in informal situations. 

Asking how someone is plays a crucial role in everyday Spanish conversations. In this case, the difference between a formal and an informal greeting depends on whether we use “tú” or “usted”. As you may probably know, “tú” is used when talking about people you know or you are familiar with such as your friends or your family members, whereas “usted” is used when you want to show respect and formality. For instance, to someone you do not know or to an older person. 

Let’s have a look at the following table: 

¿Qué tal? How’s it going?
¿Cómo estás? (tú) ¿Cómo estáis? (vosotros) How are you? (informal way)
¿Cómo está? (usted) ¿Cómo están? (ustedes)  How are you? (formal way)
¿Qué hay de nuevo? What’s new?
¿Qué pasa? What’s up?

In Spanish we use “buenas noches” as a greeting as long as it’s the right time of the day even if you are not supposed to go to sleep. Also note that Spanish salutations are used in the plural form. 

Would you like to welcome someone to your home? Then you need to learn the following phrase: “bienvenido”. Remember that it must agree in gender and number. For instance, if you are addressing a woman, you’ll have to say “bienvenida”. 

Would you like to learn how to begin and also how to end a formal letter making sure that you are showing respect and that you are using the appropriate phrases? Let’s have a look at the different phrases that you can use for that.  It is quite obvious that it depends on whether the letter is formal or informal

Formal letter

The table below shows some of the phrases that you can use to start a formal letter in Spanish: 

Señor/Señora Sir/Madam
Estimado/a señor/a Dear Sir/Madam
A quien corresponda To whom it may concern

 

Let’s have a look at some common letter endings in Spanish that you can use when writing a formal letter. For example, if you need to write a formal letter applying for a job in Spanish, the following information will come in handy. 

Atentamente Yours sincerely
Cordialmente King regards
Muchas gracias Thank you so much
Saludos cordiales King regards

 

Now that we have learned how to start and end a formal letter, let’s focus on informal letters. As you may already know, informal letters are normally sent to people you are familiar with such as a family member or a friend of yours.

The following table shows some phrases to start an informal letter in Spanish: 

Querido/a Dear
Hola Hello
Queridísima/o Dearest

As in English, endings used in informal letters in Spanish denote affection and friendliness. The table below includes some of the most common ones:

Un saludo greetings
Un beso kiss
Un fuerte abrazo big hug
Con cariño With affection
Con amor With love

Would you like to welcome someone to your home? Then you need to learn the following phrase: “bienvenido”. Remember that it must agree in gender and number. For instance, if you are addressing a woman, you’ll have to say “bienvenida”. 

In this post, we have learned the importance of greetings (this is how an interaction or conversation with a Spanish native speaker is likely to begin) and we have provided some of the most common ones in Spanish. After writing this post, you’ll definitely be able to greet people in Spanish depending on the situation. Now that you know how to greet in Spanish, you can put it into practise with a native speaker. Are you ready? Hispaníssimo can help you make your learning process easier! Sign up for hundreds of practical lessons. You’ll be surprised with your improvement. If you enjoyed the content of this post, don’t forget to share it.

Written by: Anna Roca Regué

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