Meet and greet your guests in their own language

  • 22 September 2015 | Christine Marot
Greeting your Chinese guests in their own language will make them feel welcome immediately. Image courtesy of Steve Evans

There’s nothing more welcoming for a foreign visitor than being greeted in their home tongue. And it’s simple to extend that greeting a little further by asking after their health.

Listed below are greetings in a dozen languages that you are most likely to encounter in a foreign visitor. To make them easier to master, we’ve included phonetic pronunciation.

If you’re really out to impress your visitors, study their customs and etiquette by using the handy guidelines on the Welcome site.

A simple Bonjour! will make your French guests feel right at home. Image courtesy of Antoine Robiez

Greet your Indian guests with 'Namaste'. Image courtesy of Harini Calamur

English is likely to be the best language to use when greeting your Nigerian guests. Image courtesy of Mark Fischer

Say Goedemorgen to your Dutch guests. Image courtesy of Gerard Stolk

Australia (English) 

Greeting: ‘G’day’ or ‘G’day, mate’
How are you?: ‘How you going?’

Brazil (Portoguese)

Hello: 'Olá' (olah)
How are you?: 'Como está?' (kom-oh-es-tah)

China (Mandarin)

Formal greeting: 'Nǐn hǎo' (ne-in haow)
Casual greeting: 'Nǐ hǎo' (nee haow)
Plural greeting: 'Nǐmén hǎo' (nee-mehn haow)
How are you?: ‘Nǐ zěnmeyàng’ (nee-zen me-young)

France (French)

Good day: 'Bonjour' (borne-zhoo)
Good evening: 'Bonsoir' (borne-swaar)
Goodbye: 'Au revoir' (oh-rev-waar)
How are you?: ‘Comment allez vouz?’ (commint-ally-voo)

Germany (German)

Morning greeting: ‘Guten morgen’ (goo-ten more-gen)
Any time of day greeting: ‘Guten tag’ (goo-ten taarg)
Evening greeting: ‘Guten abend’ (goo-ten ar-bend)
How are you?: ‘Wie geht’s dir?’ (vee-geyts de-ar)

India (Hindi)

Greeting: 'Namaste' (naa-maas-tay)
How are you?: ‘Āpa kaisē hain’ (aap-kese-haine)

Italy (Italian)

Informal greeting – hello or goodbye: 'Ciao' (chow)
Standard greeting: 'Buon giorno' (bwohn-johr-noh)
How are you?: ‘Come stai’ (com-ey-sty)

Japan (Japanese)

Standard greeting: 'Konnichiwa' (kohn-nee-chee-wah)
Greeting on the phone: 'Moshi moshi' (mohsh-mohsh)
Morning greeting: 'Ohayō gozaimasu' (oh-hah-yoh goh-za-ee-muss)
Evening greeting: 'Konbanwa' (kohn-bahn-wah)
How are you?: ‘Nǐ hǎo ma?’ (nee-how-maa)

Netherlands (Dutch)

Good morning: 'Goedemorgen' (khoo-duh more-khen)
Good afternoon: 'Goedemiddag' (khoo-duh midakh)
Good evening: 'Goedenavond' (khoo-dun ah-fohnt)
How are you?: ‘Hoe gaat het met u?’ (khoo-gaart het met oo)

Nigeria (more than 500 languages are spoken, English is the official language)

Greeting: 'Hello'
How are you?: ‘How are you?’

United Kingdom (English)

Informal: 'Hello'
Formal: 'How do you do?'

United States (English)

Greeting: ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’
How are you?: ‘How are you’ or ‘How are you doing?’