Italian Greetings: The Basics

italian greetingsSecond-language acquisition is beneficial to learners in a multitude of ways. Young children who are bilingual are better able to flex their creativity and problem solving muscles in other academic areas. Transferring the concept that different labels in multiple languages for the same items helps students learn difficult mathematical concepts. Language learning is useful in expanding problem solving skills. Learning Italian greetings is one way to start. In fact, you should check out this Udemy course, Speak Italian Like an Italiano.

Exercise for the Mind

Moreover, learning a new language is a type of gymnastics for the brain. It stretches the mind by engaging unused areas and helps delay Alzheimer’s disease. It is important to note that the social aspect of learning a second language is appealing to learners of all ages. Interaction with others leads to a meaningful learning experience thereby broadening the acceptance of other cultures and differences between individuals.  

Learning Italian Greetings


Italians are known for being extremely affable, gregarious, and hospitable. Conversation is considered an art form, so it is common to see people, even complete strangers, chatting away in public squares or enjoying animated conversation while strolling along a path.

It is a certainty that if you spend any time around Italians you will definitely be drawn in to any topic of conversation that is currently taking place. It is only polite, therefore, to make an effort to learn a few simple Italian phrases.

As probably already realize, Italian is a beautiful “romance” language that rolls musically off the tongue. When you first start, do not stress out over perfect pronunciation – your new Italian friends will appreciate the effort. Let’s start with greetings.

Italy Caput Mundi

In our present times,” observed the Florentine playwright Giovan Battista Gelli in 1551, “many diverse people of intelligence and refinement, outside Italy no less than within Italy, devote much effort and study to learning and speaking our language for no reason but love.”

Throughout the entire country, from the island of Sicily in the South to the Alpine mountain of Mont Blanc in the North, Italians love meeting and speaking with foreign visitors.

To show appreciation for the courtesy offered, there are a number of formal and informal greetings that you can use. Your Italian hosts will enjoy being greeted in their own language.

It is critical to realize that there are different greetings that have various levels of propriety, depending upon the time of day and the person to whom you are speaking. The words you use can signify respect, affection, or even sympathy.

These terms should be used whenever you meet or encounter someone and when you leave their company. Choosing not to use these phrases can be taken as an affront. It might be perceived that you are avoiding having even the slightest relationship with that person, conveying enmity, resentment, or contempt.

Most Common Italian Greetings

Buongiorno: Technically, this is a formal greeting, but depending on the tone used, it can also be very friendly and playful. Normally, it is only used through the early afternoon. An abbreviation is the informal Buondi’ ( di’ = day ).

Buon pomeriggio: This is a formal greeting that is spoken either when first meeting someone or leaving for the afternoon. The appropriate use varies greatly from region to region – in Northern Italy, use begins at about three o’clock, but in the South, it’s not used until after five!

Buonasera: This is another formal greeting, given to someone met in the evening. Again, its proper use varies. In the North, it is used after five o’clock, and a little later in the South.

Buonanotte: This can be used formally or informally, and is used to say goodbye before going to bed.

Ciao: This has become customary international phrase, and it can be used when either greeting or separating from an individual or a group. It is a friendly, informal phrase, given to people with whom you have met previously.

Literally, “Ciao” is offered to those to whom you give of yourself. It derives from the Venetian word, “sciao”, meaning “slave”. Literally, you are saying “I am your slave”, similar to the phrase “at your service”.

Tisaluto: This is a fashionable informal phrase that is used when greeting or separating from people we know well.

Arrivederci: This is the formal way to say goodbye, and is only used when leaving the presence of another, and it conveys the hope to meet again soon. Therefore, if you have just had a fight with someone, do not say “Arrivederci”!

Pronto: This is the typical greeting used when answering the phone. It means “Here I am – I’m ready to talk!”

Arisentirci: This can be either formal or informal, and is used at the end of a phone call.

Ci is vede: This casual greeting is used among youths, and means “sooner or later we’ll see you around”. An even more informal slang phrase is “cisibeccaingiro“, meaning “see you around”.

Addio: This phrase is both formal and informal, and is used when bidding someone farewell. Farewells are always conveyed with a bit of sadness, because they mean a detachment that will last a very long time, perhaps forever. It is derived from “I commend you to God.”

Salute: Technically, this is not a greeting. This is what you say to someone after they sneeze.

Something to Keep in Mind

In Italian, speaking without gestures is like writing without punctuation. Hands become commas, exclamation points, and question marks. Used properly, you’ll soon be communicating just like a native speaker.

Sometimes, words aren’t even necessary, such as when a tug at a bottom eyelid translates into “Attenzione!”, or “Watch out! Pay attention!”, or a straight line drawn in the air means “Perfetto!”—“ Perfect!” It’s all part of the colorful Italian language.

Italian is the Language of Choice

After deciding to learn a second language, Italian should be the language that is chosen because it will open many doors, both culturally and professionally. Italy is home to treasured artwork, art history, and technological corporations with base operations in the United States. Being able to speak Italian fluently, starting with Italian greetings, will provide career opportunities with major corporations at home and abroad. Additionally, speaking Italian fluently will give you the ability to relax and tour Italy like a native.

For improved comprehension, you should enroll in this Udemy course, How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language. Heighten your experience by taking this Udemy course, Foreign Language Learning: Faster, Smarter, Cheaper, Forever. For more fun language reading, check out this blog, Best Way to Learn a Language: Imitating Native Speakers.