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Learn how to greet people in Italian, at any time of day or night.
What to say (and when)
Buongiorno means hello, good morning, good afternoon, or good day – but only as a greeting. To wish someone a good day upon leaving, say buona giornata.
Buonasera means good evening or even good afternoon as it is often used as early as 4pm. To wish someone a good evening upon leaving, say buona serata.
Note that the greetings are usually single words: buongiorno and buonasera. It’s possible, though much less common, to write them as two words: buon giorno and buona sera. In contrast, the good wishes upon leaving are always two separate words: buona giornata and buona serata.
Salve can be used at any time of day: Hello.
Ciao is an informal greeting: Hi.
What not to say
While the expressions buona mattina (good morning) and buon pomeriggio (good afternoon) exist, they are very rare. It’s far more common to say buongiorno or salve.
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