How to Say “Hello” in 17 Different Languages
For World Hello Day, learn how to greet someone in Spanish, French, Japanese, and many more widely spoken languages.
It’s Greek to me! Well, saying “yassas” to mean “hello” actually is Greek! You’ll pronounce this “yeah-sass,” and it’s a more formal way to say “hello” that you’ll probably hear Greeks use to visitors to the country.
Swahili is spoken in many African countries, including Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. “Habari,” pronounced how it looks with the emphasis on the second syllable, is a Swahili greeting for both people you know and people you’re meeting for the first time. Saying “Hello” in other languages is pretty easy; now we just need to learn how to say these conversation starters that make you instantly interesting!
“Shalom,” pronounced “shah-lohm” and written as “שלום,” is used to mean “hello” and “goodbye,” and also translates to “peace.”
This is the most common, informal way to say “hello” in Polish. It’s pronounced “chesh-ch”—one syllable, but with a couple different consonant sounds. Though it’s probably not something you’d use to greet a complete stranger, it’s appropriate for most informal situations. All of these languages have a word for “hello,” but there are plenty of (sometimes funny) words that you’ll only find in English.
Popular in the U.S. as a yoga salutation or dismissal, this actually is the way to say “hello” in Hindi, the official language of India. TripSavvy actually claims that the pronunciation “nah-mah-stay” that you’re probably familiar with is a slight mispronunciation. Instead, say it more like “nuhm-uh-stay.” And while the last syllable isn’t quite a clipped “steh,” it’s not a drawn-out American “stay” either; take a listen here.
Portuguese’s connection with Spanish, since they derive from a common ancestor and are both West Iberian Romance languages, is clear right from hello. While the Portuguese “hello” is also pronounced “ola,” the emphasis is on the second syllable, not on the first as in Spanish. You’ll encounter Portuguese speakers in Portugal (shocker) as well as in Brazil, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. Want to learn more foreign words? Get a look at these beautiful international words that have no English equivalent.
“Chào” is the most common way to say “hello” in Vietnamese, and it’s pretty much pronounced how it looks: like “chao,” with a similar vowel sound to the Italian “hello”! However, it’s not a “ch” sound like we’re used to in English. It’s more like “tchao” or “jao.” “Chào” is also usually paired with a title that indicates the age and gender of the addressee.
To say “hello” in Turkish, you say “merhaba,” or “mair-hah-bah,” with the emphasis on the first syllable. These photos of the world’s most beautiful countries will make you want to travel and use your new linguistic prowess!