It’s time to learn Italian greetings. We won’t look at all possible ways of greeting people, but only the most common ones, handy to know while staying in Italy. Some of them might already be familiar to you from our previous lessons.
Hello in Italian
Ciao in Italian means hi or goodbye.
Ciao means both “hi” and “bye” in Italian. Ciao can be used at any time of the day. Ciao is an informal greeting, but people still use it in situations that are basically formal (for example, if you regularly go to the same shop and the people working in the shop seem friendly, or maybe even the first time you meet someone who seems friendly and is a similar age to you). In a nutshell, it’s used where you might use the informal words “hi” or “bye” in English.
- We’ve already learned “ciao”, if you don’t remember the spelling rules for the letter “c” in Italian, check the first lesson in the first section.
The Italian for Goodbye
Arrivederci means goodbye or see you soon.
Arrivederci is made from two words: “a” and “rivederci”. It means literally “to see each other again”.
Arrivederci is mostly used in formal situations. You can use it when leaving a shop, for example. It implies, like “see you!” that you expect to see the person again (although you might not!).
There is an even more formal version of arrivederci: arrivederla. Arrivederla is a very formal word which is used to show respect to someone that you don’t know as a friend.
Arrivederla can be used for example when you part from your boss or your teacher at the end of the day.
Good Day in Italian
Buongiorno is Italian for good day.
Buongiorno is a formal greeting which is usually used from the late morning until around 1pm. Buon means “good” and giorno means “day”.
- Remember, in Italian the letter “g” before vowels e and i is always pronounced like “j” in jacket. Otherwise it’s pronounced like “g” in garden.
Good Evening in Italian
Buonasera in Italian means good evening.
Buonasera is a formal greeting. It’s used both both when meeting someone and leaving them.
Buonasera is used in the evening, although the exact time that’s considered evening depends on what region of Italy you’re in. Generally Buonasera can be used from about five or six in the evening.
Good Night in Italian
Buonanotte is Italian for goodnight.
Buonanotte is used in both formal and informal situations. It’s equivalent to “good night!” and is largely only used as a farewell.
- Buona means “good” and Notte means, of course, “night”. Buona is the feminine version of buon, because notte is feminine.
Buongiorno, buonasera and buonanotte are used at slightly different times of the day depending on the region of Italy. But don’t stress about it!
Translate the following sentences into English.
Click the link below to view the answers. But have a go first!
- Questo é un giorno buono.
- Ciao Marco! Come va?
- Mi piace questa sera! In the shop:
- Grazie e arrivederci!
- Questa sera ho sete.
- This is a good day.
- Hello Marco! How are you?
- I like this evening. In the shop:
- Thanks and goodbye!
- This evening I’m thirsty.