How to say hello in Italian

Italian greetings vary based on the time of day and the grade of intimacy between the speakers. If you want to learn how to say hello in Italian, eat this Lingookie. You will find interactive exercises along the way to test your newly acquired skills.

Italians love to say hello to one another. They don’t limit themselves to words, but follow up their greetings with hugs or kisses on the cheeks (that always come in three’s!).

Culture shock!
Friends usually favor hugs, while relatives exchange kisses on both cheeks after not seeing each other for some time. For this reason, Italian national holidays such as Christmas and Easter are very warm, welcomed and wet.

How do you say hello in Italian?

Let’s start with the most common Italian greeting. This is so internationally popular that there’s a good chance you already know what word I’m about to teach you.



Ciao is universally known as the Italian greeting par excellence (per eccellenza, remember we’re learning Italian here?). It’s not a universal greeting, however, as you can only use it in informal scenarios.

Kids use it with other kids, as well as friends and people who have known each other for a long time. You can use it for either starting or ending a conversation, regardless on the time of day.

If it’s not universal, it’s at least almost there.

Make sure you do the exercises before learning the other ways to say hello in Italian!

hello in Italian - ciao


This Italian hello might ring a bell if you study or happened to study Latin at school.

Note for Latin learners: the Italian v is pronounced as a… v. Not as u.

Hello, good day

Salve comes directly from Latin and you can use it only as an initial greeting.

It’s kind of a hybrid greeting, because it can be used in somewhat formal contexts, such as when you approach a shop keeper. However, it is considered by many too informal to be used in job interviews or any other very formal situations.

Earlier in this lesson I told you that saying hello in Italian also depends on the time of day.

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Good morning, good day
Compund: From buono, “good”, and giorno, “day”

This is a formal greeting, but you can use it among relatives as well. Family members often greet each other with a buongiorno first thing in the morning. (Some don’t, as they are too sleepy to even utter a sound, but they are a minority.) Don’t use this after sunset as it can raise eyebrows.

hello in Italian - buongiorno

What other hello‘s are there?

It does not end here! There are other ways of saying hello in Italian depending on the time of day.

Buon pomeriggio

Buon pomeriggio
Good afternoon
Compund: From buono, “good”, and pomeriggio, “afternoon”

People sometimes greet each other with a buon pomeriggio between 1pm and 6pm, but keep in mind that buongiorno is another perfect choice for this time of day. You may get quick glances if you use it after sunset.


Good evening
Compund: From buona, “good”, and sera, “evening”

This is a formal greeting to be used after sunset for both introducing themselves and saying goodbye, just like buongiorno.


This is a remote greeting. Imagine the phone’s ringing. You pick up. What do you say? Ciao? Buongiorno? Buonasera?

None of that. You say…

Literally: Ready?

hello in Italian - pronto

Remember: when talking over the phone, Italians pick up the line with a Pronto?, which literally means “Ready?”.

Now you know everything you have to know to say hello in Italian.

Test your skills with this final exercise!

What next?

You can do the Italian hello’s interactive exercises!

Now that you’ve seen how to say hello in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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