I’m going to explain you i saluti Italiani [sah-LOOH-tee ee-tah-lee-AH-nee], Italian greetings. First of all you should know that in Italian there is a huge difference between using the formal or the informal version of speech. You have to be careful not to use the informal greetings with people you don’t know well. Let’s start then!
Ciao! [CHOW] means Hi or Hello but also Bye. It is only used in informal circumstances. So it is ok to say ciao to family, friends, young people and kids. It happened to me abroad that various people I’d never met before in my life greeted me with a Ciao and it was very weird. For example, I was on vacation in Austria and the hotel owner knew a little Italian. He was a few years younger than me, and he had probably learned it by some peers. The fact is that he knew only the informal way of speech (the tu form) and addressed to me and my husband that way. For Heaven’s sake, no offence taken, eh! But still it always sounded sooo strange.
So, don’t forget it! Use Ciao only to greet people you know or people that tell you this: “Per piacere, diamoci del tu!” [Pehr pyah-CHEH-reh deeAH-mo-tchee del tu]. Literally it means “Please, let’s give eachother the tu form”, but I think that in English would be something like “Please, let’s call by names“. Speaking of which, feel free to call me by name! Datemi del tu! [DAH-teh-mee del tu] Give me the tu! If you’re interested, here’s my post that explains the origin of the word ciao.
Salve! [SAH-lveh] is not widely used. It means Hi or Hello, but can be used also in formal situations. Let’s say that you can use Salve when you’re not sure whether you have to be formal or informal with someone… That is precisely what I do!
Turn on your speakers and click on the play button: you can hear the pronunciation of Ciao and Salve!
Times of the day
More related to the time of the day, there are these four Italian greetings:
Buongiorno [bwohn-JOHR-noh] corresponds to Good Morning and it is used to greet people you meet during the morning. It’s both formal and informal, but in an informal way it is mostly used just when you wake up to greet your family members. If you meet a friend in the morning you use in 90% of cases Ciao.
Buon pomeriggio [bwohn poh-meh-REE-joh]means Good Afternoon. It should be used after lunchtime but I confess that I never do and I continue to say Buongiorno until the sun goes down. It is formal.
Buonasera [bwoh-nah-SEH-rah] it is also formal and it means Good Evening. It’s used starting from 5-6 pm or so when you meet someone. When you take your leave, you should say Buona serata (bwoh-nah-seh-RAH-ta), that is Have a nice evening.
Buonanotte [bwoh-nah-NOHT-teh] means Good Night. It is both formal and informal but it is only used when you take your leave to go home after an evening out or to go to bed, if you’re home or in a Hotel.
Now you can listen to the pronunciation of Buongiorno, Buon pomeriggio, Buonasera, Buona serata and buonanotte!
How to say Goodbye other than Ciao
Arrivederci! [ahr-ree-veh-DEHR-chee] is formal. Literally it means “until we see each other again” but it is also used to say Goodbye when you already know that probably you will never see someone again.
A più tardi / A dopo [ah-pyoo-TAR-dee/ ah-DOH-poh] are similar to See you later and are both formal and informal.
A presto [ah-PRESS-toh] means See you soon and is both formal and informal.
A domani [ah doh-MAHN-ee]means See you tomorrow. Both formal and informal.
Addio [ah-DEE-oh] Last but not least the greeting I never ever used. I only hear it sometimes in movies or songs but in real life I never heard it. It means goodbye for good, so be careful to use it!
Listen to the pronunciation of Arrivederci, A più tardi, A dopo, A presto, A domani and Addio!
If you want you can also see the full video:
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