Italian greetings

Are you planning on going to Italy soon? Are you excited about visiting this lovely country but scared at the same time because you know you won’t be able to communicate?

Well, I can help you! Just keep reading 🙂

Formal and informal expressions

We often don’t realise our language rules until we compare them to the ones of another.


Formal expressions are used when talking or writing to someone we don’t know very well for example: a teacher, a policeman, elder people.

The pronoun that we use in this case is lei (lit. “She”), both if you refer to men or women, and we refer to our speaker with the title and surname:

  • Signora Bianchi (Mrs Bianchi);
  • Dottor Paolucci (Doctor Paolucci);
  • Ingegner Messina (Engineer Messina).

We can also use the first name with the title signor or signora: signor Gianni, signora Maria.


Informal expressions are used between friends, colleagues, relatives, young people or when we want to “reduce the distance” between us and the person we’re talking to.

In this case we use the pronoun tu (you) and the first name.

Middle formality

You should use middle formality when we talk to someone we don’t know and we want to show respect but at the same time we want to reduce the distance from.

In this case we use the pronoun lei and the first name. For example students have always to use formal expressions with their teachers; on the other hand, teachers, can use middle formality expressions (but they don’t have to).

Italian greetings

The Italian culture places importance on introductions and salutations as it is often considered a foundational way of showing respect.

Offer polite greetings to friends and associates or as a way to break the ice when meeting new people.

  • Buongiorno! (bwohn-johr-noh) (Hello! and Good morning!)

  • Arrivederci! (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee) (Goodbye!) (Formal)

  • Ciao! (chou) (Hello! and Good-bye!) (Informal)

  • Salve! (sahl-veh) (Hello! and Good-bye!) (Neutral)

  • Buonasera! (bwoh-nah-seh-rah) (Good afternoon! Good evening!) (Formal)

  • Buonanotte! (bwoh-nah-noht-teh) (Good night!) (Informal)

  • Come si chiama? (koh-meh see kyah-mah) (What is your name?) (Formal)

  • Come ti chiami? (koh-meh tee kyah-mee) (What is your name?) (Informal)

  • Mi chiamo…(mee kyah-moh) (My name is. . .)

  • Come sta? (koh-meh stah) (How are you?) (Formal)

  • Come stai? (koh-meh stahy) (How are you?) (Informal)

  • Bene, grazie. (beh-neh grah-tsee-eh) (Fine, thank you.)

You can find the video “Italian greetings” here for the pronunciation 🙂

Now you should be able to greet people in Italian. Just keep practicing!

Hope you’ve found this post interesting! Let me know 🙂


One thought on “Italian greetings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: