What’s the first thing you do when you start talking to anyone? Saying hello is basic for starting a conversation. It doesn’t matter if you know the other person or if you don’t. That’s why we are going to talk about the differences between saying hello and goodbye in formal and informal situations.
Formal and informal situations
It’s not the same to talk with your parents, your friend, your boss or your almost unknown aunt that you see once a year. So greetings and farewells are not the same for these different situations. Who should you use formal expressions with?
- A person you only deal with professionally, as your bussines partner or your boss.
- A professional you consult with, such as a lawyer or a doctor
- An older person
- A person you don’t know
- “Important” people, such as the Royalty or the presidents.
People usually ask other people to be speak in an informal way after introductions.
Formal and informal way for saying hello and goodbye in Spanish
The first you have to know is that in Spanish we use “usted” instead of “tú” when we speak in a formal way. And the verb isn’t in 2nd person, but in 3th. To make it more complicated, as you may know, in Spanish subject pronouns can be omitted, so sometimes you could be confused about who is the subject: tú, usted, él o ella. Pay attention:
- ¿Cómo estás (tú)?
- ¿Cómo está (usted/él/ella/el perro/la casa…)?
There are some expresions you will use only in a formal or an informal way. ¿Qué tal?, for example, will be only used in informal situations. But other expresions can be used for both, and you only have to change the verb form, as in the example we’ve commented above: ¿cómo estás?/¿cómo está?
Read this other post to learn every expression to say hello and goodbye in a formal and informal way.
Try this online activity and learn some greetings and saying goodbye expressions and their answers.