Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Getting started with German 1
Getting started with German 1

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3 More on greetings

So, whereas Guten Tag is used as the standard greeting in central and northern Germany, in the South and in Austria, Grüß Gott is the most common way to say hello, and in Switzerland, you often hear Gruezi.

Greetings and the way people address one another can vary, not only depending on the geographical area but also on age (teenager and younger people tend to be less formal with one another than older generations), relationship (talking to a family member or friend, or to a client or customer), or different situations (formal, less formal).

For example, amongst friends, a friendly Hallo is certainly appropriate, and in Austria, among family and friends you will often hear Servus or Grüß dich (Grüß euch if you want to say hello to more than one person). Young people also use international greetings, such as Ciao or Hi.

Moin moin is a greeting frequently heard in Northern Germany. Although it sounds a bit like Morgen as in Guten Morgen, it is used all day long.

To get the level of formality and the local conventions right, you might choose to mirror the language you hear: speaking is easier if you can reflect the phrases back that are spoken to you. For example, somebody says: Guten Tag – mirror the phrase and say Guten Tag to them. If you hear Grüß Gott, people will be very pleased if you try a Grüß Gott in return.

Some of the activities in this course encourage you to record yourself speaking German, for example on a mobile or tablet. This gives you the opportunity to not only practise speaking but also check on your pronunciation and model your answers on the samples given by native speakers. Once you have recorded a word or sentence, listen to yourself. Often there will be a model answer provided on the website and you can then compare your recording with the model. This will help you improve your accent and develop confidence when speaking. So, before carrying on, you might want to think about which device/software to use for the next activity.

Activity 3

You have heard and read about saying hello and goodbye at different times of the day and in different regions. Let’s try it out. Listen to the greetings on Audio 3 and respond by using the same wording. If you wish, record yourself and then listen to your recording and compare it with the example given in the audio. Does it sound the same or very similar? If you are not quite happy with your first attempt, don’t worry, just try again.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 3
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Audio 3
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).