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How to Say Hello in Greek: A Complete Guide to Greek Greetings

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Knowing how to greet people in a language you are learning or how to say “hello” when you are visiting another country is important. Not only is it polite, but it also shows that you are trying to acclimate to the culture and blend in with the locals.

There are numerous ways to say hello in Greek. Well, it’s almost certain that you’ve heard or learned Καλημέρα (/kalimera/). However, this guide goes beyond the basics. There are many Greek greetings out there, and we’ll try to cover the majority of them.

Don’t feel intimidated if you can’t remember everything at once! Start by memorizing one or two ways to say hello in Greek, and you will be fine. Let’s start with the most common ways to say hello in Greek!

Saying Hello in Greek

Greetings are essential in any culture. It shows respect for the person you are talking to as well as their culture. Especially when travelling, knowing the right Greek greeting will help you connect with locals and show them that you are making an effort to understand them and their language.

That said, knowing how to say hello and good morning in Greek is the most fundamental form of communication you can use. Before you begin learning these expressions and how to pronounce them, you should consult the Greek IPA.

Let’s start with the simplest form of greeting, the Greek hello. Saying hello in Greek is simple because it is a four-letter word where only two letters are pronounced! So, we have:

  • Γεια /ja/ = hello

This simple word is pronounced similarly to “ja” (yes) in Dutch, Norse, and Germanic languages. Also, it is similar to the English word “yeah.”

However, it is unrelated to “yes”. Γεια is a shortened version of υγεία, which means “health”. So, saying γεια is like wishing someone good health.

You can also direct this greeting towards a person, using the second person singular or plural:

  • Γεια σου /ja su/ = hello to you (sing.)
  • Γεια σας /ja sas/ = hello to you (pl.)

Fun fact: using the first person plural μας (“us”), creates the Greek word for “Cheers”. So, γεια μας!

Time of Day Greetings in Greek

When it comes to greetings at any time of day, the Greek language follows very similar rules to the English language. However, there is a distinction between these greetings based on whether they are used to say hello or goodbye. It sounds tricky, but let’s see it.

Hello at Each Time of Day

  • Καλημέρα /kali’mera/

The most common greeting, meaning good morning in Greek. It can mean both good morning and good day and, while the rule states that it is to be said until noon (12 PM), in more informal settings, you can say it up until 2 PM. You can also say it in the form of καλή + possessive pronoun + ημέρα (for instance, καλή σας ημέρα) as in “good day to you.

  • Καλησπέρα /kali’spera/

Literally meaning good evening in Greek, it is an expression used to greet people after noon. You can say it until the end of the day, even late at night, but only to greet someone, not to say goodbye.

Goodbye at Each Time of Day

When it comes to saying a time-sensitive goodbye, things are a little different, especially because Greek times of day differ from those in the US or Western Europe. Καλησπέρα is rarely used, while καλημέρα can be used, but is not typically preferred. Other Greek greetings to use in such situations are:

  • Καλό μεσημέρι /ka’lo mesi’meri/

Literally meaning good noon, it is typically used when saying goodbye to someone before 1-2 PM, instead of repeating good morning.

  • Καλό απόγευμα /ka’lo a’poγevma/

That is the way to say good afternoon in Greek, which can be said after noon or during most of the English afternoon. In Greece, when we say good afternoon we usually mean up until 7-8 PM. Our afternoon is split into early (around 3-4 PM), mid (around 5-6 PM), and late (around 7-8 PM). That said, you can use καλό απόγευμα, like καλησπέρα, to say goodbye any time between 12 and 6 PM.

  • Καλό βράδυ /ka’lo ‘vraδi/

That is the way to say good evening in Greek. It has nothing to do with when the sun goes down; even in the winter, when the sun sets around 5 PM in Greece, you would not say good evening to someone at 4 PM. This greeting is mostly used after the typical working hours, so expect to hear it after 6 PM, with a higher frequency after 8 PM.

  • Καληνύχτα /kali’nixta/

This last greeting means good night in Greek. However, you will rarely hear it, even if you part ways with someone at 11 PM. It is a more informal greeting or, better yet, something to say when you are ready to go to bed or know the other person is going to bed. While it can be used instead of καλό βράδυ, especially in closer relationships, it is suggested that you use καλό βράδυ or say καληνύχτα only late at night.

How Are You in Greek

Hoping that the section above was not so confusing, let’s jump to something much easier. When you say hello in Greek, you usually want to know how your discussant is and if they’re doing well. It is a common practice in Greek, and it can be expressed through the following phrases:

  • τι κάνεις; /ti ‘kanis/ (sing.)
  • τι κάνετε; /ti ‘kanete/ (pl.)


  • πώς είσαι; /pos ‘ise/ (sing.)
  • πώς είστε; /pos ‘iste/ (pl.)

Both mean “how are you” and, while the second is preferred in a more formal setting, they are used interchangeably. The only thing you should remember is to use the plural form of either phrase in more formal settings, as it is the plural of politeness. You can also check out how to pronounce these greetings and practice!

Answering to How Are You in Greek

The most common answers to the question how are you in Greek are:

  • Καλά /ka’la/ = good
  • Πολύ καλά /po’li ka’la/ = very good
  • Μια χαρά! /mɲa xa’ra/ = great
  • Τα ίδια /ta ‘iδja/ = same old

All of these responsed are typically accompanied by a thank you in Greek or a question to the other person, asking them how they are. In such cases, we do not ask the same question back. You simply need to add a direct question of “you?” at the end of your answer, such as:

  • Καλά, εσύ; / Καλά, εσείς;

It is common courtesy to ask how the other person is, even if they do not have time to respond. Assume you are crossing the street and notice a friend crossing at the same time. You must greet them, but neither of you can stop in the middle of the road to chat. In that case, they could say “Γεια, τι κάνεις;” and you should answer “Kαλά, εσύ;” even if they rush to cross the street and don’t have time to respond.

Other Ways to Say Hello in Greek: Examples

There are several other ways to say hello in Greek, both informal and formal. Let’s go over some of them that you’ll undoubtedly come across in your daily life.

Informal Ways to Say Hello in Greek

While καλημέρα and γεια are common in all interactions, there are also some more informal ways to say hello in Greek. Some Greek greetings, mostly alternatives to the “how are you?” question, can only be found in informal settings, such as between friends or relatives.

Some examples are:

  • Τι λέει; /ti ‘lei/ = what’s up?
  • Τι γίνεται; /ti ‘γinete/ = what’s up?
  • Πώς πάει; /pos ‘pai/ = what’s up?
  • Όλα καλά; /’ola ka’la/ = all good?

While the literal translations of these phrases don’t make much sense – for instance, τι λέει literally translates to “what does it say?” – they are all used in an informal context to mean what’s up.

Formal Ways to Say Hello in Greek

The formal ways to say hello in Greek do not require any additional vocabulary beyond what we have already seen, but rather a different way to phrase your greeting. The word “hello” is usually followed by an honorific and/or the person’s surname. For instance:

  • Καλημέρα σας. = Good morning to you (pl.)
  • Καλημέρα, κύριε/κυρία Χ. = Good morning, Mr./Ms. X
  • Κυρίες και κύριοι, καλημέρα. = Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Slang Greek Greetings

Even the most informal greetings mentioned above are polite and grammatically correct. Of course, there are some phrases that can only be used in an extremely informal setting, typically among very close friends or young people. Some of them are:

  • ‘μέρα /’mera/ and ‘σπέρα /’spera/

An abbreviation of the words καλημέρα και καλησπέρα, used only in very informal settings.

  • Γιό /jo/

A word directly assimilated from “yo”.

  • Επ! /ep/ and Ωπ! /op/

Common Greek interjections, used in a variety of contexts. In this case, they are used when you encounter someone unexpectedly or are in a hurry. For example, when crossing the road in a hurry, you could simply say “Επ, τι λέει;” to acknowledge them without expecting a response.

  • Τι λέει, μπρο; /ti ‘lei bro/

Another common assimilation in Gen Z greetings is “what’s up, bro” which you are likely to hear if you are surrounded by younger people.

  • Χρόνια και ζαμάνια! /’xroɲa ce za’maɲa/

On the other hand, that is a somewhat dated, boomer greeting that means “long time no see.” You’re unlikely to hear it, but if you do, it’ll be in a very informal setting.

More Useful Phrases to Say Hello in Greek

There are a few more useful greeting phrases that apply to specific situations. These are:

  • Καλώς ήρθατε /ka’los ‘irθate/ = welcome
  • Χάρηκα (για τη γνωριμία) /’xarika ja ti γnori’mia/ = nice to meet you
  • Καλημέρα σε όλους /kali’mera se ‘olus/ = good morning to everyone (it can be used with γεια and καλησπέρα as well)

Answering the Phone in Greek

A few final words that may be useful – I promise not to tire you any longer – will be those you use when answering the phone. The majority of them can be used in any situation, so choose whatever works best for you.

  • Παρακαλώ; /para’kalo/ or Χ, παρακαλώ;

The most common way of answering the phone, either alone or by stating your name first. While it literally translates to “you’re welcome” or “excuse me”, the word παρακαλώ, in that case, is the exact equivalent of “hello” in English.

  • Λέγετε. /’leγete/

Somewhat more formal than παρακαλώ, it translates to “speak” but means something along the lines of “please, state your case”, thus it is not so commonly used. Λέγετε is used to maintain a distance, such as when your doctor answers the phone.

  • Ναι; /ne/

Another very common way to answer the phone is to simply say “yes”. It is more informa,l though, so you should probably use it only when you know the caller.

  • Έλα (ρε)! /’ela re/

The most informal way to pick up the phone, bordering on slang when adding the word “re”, which is a very informal way to address someone. It literally translates to “come”, but it is metaphorical. Should only be used when the caller is a close friend.

How to Greet When in Greece

Finally, greeting etiquette in Greece is largely consistent with southern European customs. From the most formal to the most informal:


In any formal setting or when meeting someone for the first time, a handshake is the safest option. In a slightly informal setting, two men may also exchange handshakes.


A quick hug to say hello, sometimes with a pat on the back, is actually more common in Greece than a kiss on the cheek. More close relationships call for longer hugs. Both men and women are more likely to exchange brief hugs when meeting – of course, only in informal settings; you shouldn’t hug the HR person who interviews you!

Two kisses on the cheek

Like in Spain, one kiss on each cheek is the way to go in Greece. It is most standard for women, but many men (especially younger generations) also use this greeting. It is regarded as a more friendly, rather than polite greeting, and is typically reserved for family and close friends.

How to Say Hello in Greek – A Conclusion

While we’ll go over our goodbyes in another post, rest assured that you’ve learned everything you need to say hello in Greek. If you’re getting ready for a trip or a move, don’t forget to practice with Clozemaster, the app that can help you achieve your goals quickly and efficiently while also having a great time!

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