Italian greetings
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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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How to say hello in Italian