9 Ways to Say ‘Hello’ in Spanish

If you’re learning Spanish, one of the most fundamental things you can learn is how to say hello. Even though hola is one of the most common and standard ways to do this, there are many common expressions and words that Spanish speakers use for this purpose. 

For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of 9 different and popular ways to say ‘hello’ in Spanish. Although all of these expressions are very common, keep in mind that some of them may be more suitable for either formal or informal contexts. 

Additionally, you’ll find some expressions that are only popular in certain Spanish speaking countries. Read the descriptions carefully so you have a better understanding of which option is the best for your situation. 

By the end of this, you will be able to say Hola as a native Spanish speaker. 

1. Hola – Hello / Hi 

As you may know, hola is the most common and standard way to say ‘hello’ in Spanish. Since it’s a standard word, ‘hola’ can be used in all Spanish speaking countries. Depending on the context this word can be translated either as ‘hello’ or ‘hi’.

Something to keep in mind when using this word is that even though ‘hola’ is a standard term, it’s mostly used in informal or casual situations such as greeting:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Acquaintances
  • People the same age

Hola, me llamo Tim y soy irlandés
Hello, I’m Tim and I’m Irish

Hola, Jenny, ¿está tu hermana?
Hi, Jenny, how is your sister?

Ay, ¡hola! No las había visto
Oh, hi, I didn’t see you there, guys

¿David? ¡Hola! ¿Cómo has estado?
David? Hi! How have you been?

2. ¿Qué tal? – Hi / What’s up

¿Qué tal? is another popular expression that you can use as a way to say ‘hi’ in Spanish. Unlike other expressions from this list, ‘¿qué tal?’ has a double purpose: to greet and to ask people how they are. As a result, depending on the context, ‘¿qué tal?’ can be translated as:

  • Hi
  • What’s up?
  • How is it going?
  • How is everything?

Here are some examples of how to use this expression in real-life situations. 

Qué tal chicas, qué gusto verlas
How is everything, girls? It’s so nice to see you

Qué tal, todavía no nos han presentado, soy la novia de Sául
Hi, we haven’t been introduced yet, I’m Saul’s girlfriend

Tú: Chavos, esta es Paulina, mi novia. You: Guys, this is Paulina, my girlfriend. 
Tus amigos: Qué tal, Paulina, mucho gusto. Tus amigos: Hi, Paulina, nice to meet you.  

Take Note: As mentioned before, ¿qué tal? is a popular expression to ask how are you in Spanish. In order to know which meaning is being used, you need to pay attention to the context of the conversation. 

3. Buenos días – Good morning

In Spanish, buenos días can be used in formal situations as a polite way to greet someone. Depending on the part of the day you’re in, you may need to change this expression for one of the following: 

  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Goodnight / Good evening

Buenas noches, Don Paco
Good night, Mr. Paco

Buenas tardes, doña Silvia, ¿cómo está?
Good afternoon, Ms. Silvia, how are you?

Don Carlos, buenas noches, ¿todavía tiene tacos?
Mr. Carlos, good evening,  do you still have tacos?

Maestra, buenos días, ¿le ayudo con sus cosas?
Good morning, professor, do you want me to help you with your things?

Take Note: Buenos días is a popular and standard expression in Spanish. However, you may also hear that people say ‘buen día’. Both expressions are correct and mean the same thing, as a result, you can use either one of them. 

4. ¡Qué milagro! – Long time no see

In Latin American Spanish speaking countries, ¡qué milagro! can also be used as a way to say ‘hello’. However, you can only use this expression when you run into a person that you haven’t seen for a while. 

On top of saying hi, ‘¡qué milagro!’ expresses surprise and happiness for seeing this person again. In this context, this expression is the direct translation of ‘long time no see’. 

¿José María? ¡Qué milagro! ¿Cómo has estado?
Jose María? Long time no see! How have you been?

¡Qué milagro! ¡Qué gusto verte! 
Long time no see! It’s so good to see you!

¡Marcela! ¡Qué milagro! ¿Cómo estás? ¿Vives por aquí?
Marcela! Long time no see! How are you? Do you live around here?

Take Note: ¡Qué milagro! can also be used over texts or emails when you haven’t heard from a person in a while and they reach you. Additionally, this expression can also be applied to express your surprise or happiness about a certain situation. 

5. ¡Qué onda! – What’s up / Hello 

Qué onda is a popular and informal expression that people use as a casual way to say ‘hello’ in Spanish. This expression can be translated as “what’s up”, “hi”, “how is it going?” and “how are things”. Although this expression is very common in Mexico, you can also use it in the following Spanish speaking countries: 

  • Argentina
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Chile

In Mexico, this casual way to say ‘hello’ is widely used among all the population. However, in other Spanish-speaking countries, this expression may only be popular among young people. 

¡Qué onda! Hace mucho que no te veía
What’s up! I haven’t seen you in a while

Ey, ¡qué onda! No sabía que ibas a venir hoy
Hey, how is it going? I didn’t know you were coming today

¡Qué onda, chavos! Miren les presento a mi novia
What’s up, guys! Look this is my girlfriend

Take Note: ‘¡Qué onda!’ is very popular in Mexico. However, Mexican speakers have other popular and more informal variations of this phrase such as ¡Qué hongo!, ¡Qué honduras!, ¡Qué pex!

Related Resource: How Do Mexicans Greet Each Other?

6. Buenas – Hi / Hello

Buenas is an informal and shortened version of the expressions ‘buenos días’, ‘buenas tardes’ or ‘buenas noches’. As a result, you can use it as a casual way to say ‘hello’ in Spanish. Even though buenas is a colloquial term, this word is pretty well known and widely applied in all Spanish speaking countries. 

Buenas, ¿estará Gustavo?
Hello, is Gustavo around?

Buenas, Bárbara, ¿qué tal estás?
Hi, Barbara, how are you?

Julio, buenas, Paulina te estaba buscando
Hi, Julio, Paulina was looking for you

7. ¿Aló? / ¿Bueno? – Hello

When it comes to say ‘hello’ in Spanish over a phone call, you can use the expressions ¿aló? or  ¿bueno? Both of these expressions are used as a way to answer the phone and say hi. However, they’re mainly used in casual conversations. In other words, when you’re answering your personal phone. 

Even though they have the same purpose, ¿bueno? is only used in Mexico and ¿aló? is more popular in the rest of Spanish Latin American countries. Here is how you use it:

Sí, ¿bueno? ¿Quién habla?
Hello? Who is speaking?

¿Aló? ¿Con quién desea hablar, señorita?
Hello? Who do you want to speak to, miss?

¿Bueno? ¿David? ¿Cómo estás? ¿En qué te puedo ayudar?
Hello? David? How are you? What can I do for you?

Take Note: ‘¿Bueno?’ and ‘¿aló?’ are appropriate for answering the phone and saying hi in a very casual way. However, if you need to be a little bit more formal, you need to use ‘buenos días’ or ‘buenas tardes’. 

8. ¡Qué bola! – What’s up!

In Cuba, ¡qué bola! is a casual and popular way to say ‘hi’ in Spanish. On top of only being suitable in informal situations, ‘¡qué bola!’ is only popular in Cuba and even though you can use it in other countries, you may need to be ready to explain its meaning.

‘¡Qué bola!’ is the Cuban version of ‘¡qué onda!’, as a result, it can be translated as ‘what’s up’, ‘hi’, ‘how is it going?’ and ‘how is everything?’. 

Asere, ¿qué bola? ¿Cómo está el viejo?
What’s up, buddy? How is the old man?

Oye, qué bola, vieja, qué bueno verte
Hey, how is it going, dude, it’s so good to see you

Eddy, qué bola, ¿cómo va todo?
Eddy, what’s up? How is everything going?

Take Note: Qué bola is such a distinctive Cuban expression that it’s very likely that speakers from other countries know its meaning. Worst-case scenario, you can always use your Spanish to explain to people what ‘qué bola’ means. 

9. ¡Quihubo! – What’s up / Hi

In Mexico, Colombia and El Salvador, ¡quihubo! is an informal word that you can use to say ‘hello’. As an informal word, this expression is only suitable for casual conversations. Quihubole is a variation of ‘quihubo’, therefore, you can use this word with the same purposes and meanings. 

Here are some examples of how to use ‘quihubo’: 

Quihubo, Moisés, ¿cómo andas?
What’s up, Moises, how are you?

¿Andrea? ¡Quihubo! No sabía que trabajabas aquí
Andrea? Hi! I didn’t know you work here

¡Quibuho, morros! ¿Ya nos vamos?
What’s up, guys? Are we leaving now?

Take Note: Just like ‘what’s up’, quihubo and quihubole can also be used to ask people what’s going on with a certain situation. In this case, ‘quihubo’ will need to work with more elements and you will need to mention the situation or activity that you’re asking for. 

¿Quihubo con el azúcar? Te pedí que fueras a comprar más
What’s up with the sugar? I asked you to go buy more

Wrapping Up

If you’re learning Spanish, you may already know that there are multiple words or expressions that you can use to say the same thing. So even though hola is the standard word and most common way to say ‘hello’ in Spanish, you’ll notice that Spanish speakers also use other expressions. 

For that reason, in this article, we compiled 9 different ways to say ‘hello’ in Spanish. Although all of these expressions are very popular, you need to make sure that you apply them in the correct context and country. 
Now, you can leave ‘hola’ behind and use these expressions to say hello in Spanish.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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