How to Say Hello in Hungarian: Formal and Informal Greetings

Welcome to our guide on how to say hello in Hungarian! Learning basic greetings in a foreign language is an excellent way to connect with locals and make a positive first impression. In this guide, we will explore various ways to say hello in Hungarian, both formally and informally. We’ll also delve into a few regional variations when necessary. So, let’s get started and discover the different ways to greet someone in Hungarian!

Formal Greetings

Formal greetings are used when addressing someone you’re not familiar with or when you want to show respect. Here are a few phrases you can use:

1. Jó napot kívánok

This is the most common formal greeting used throughout Hungary. It translates to “I wish you a good day.” Pronounce it as “yo nah-poat kee-vah-nok.”

2. Szép napot

A slightly more casual but still formal way to say hello in Hungarian is “Szép napot,” which means “Beautiful day.” Pronounce it as “sehp nah-poat.”

Informal Greetings

Informal greetings are used among friends, family, and in casual situations. They reflect a more relaxed and friendly tone. Let’s explore some popular informal Hungarian greetings:

1. Szia

Szia is the most commonly used informal greeting in Hungarian. It’s equivalent to the English “Hi” or “Hey.” Pronounce it as “see-ah.”

2. Helló

Helló is also an informal greeting borrowed from English. It is pronounced the same way, as in “Hello.”

Regional Variations

While Hungarian is generally uniform throughout the country, there are some regional variations in greetings. Here are a few examples:

1. Csá

Csá is a popular informal greeting in eastern Hungary. It’s similar to “Szia” and is often used between friends. Pronounce it as “cha.”

2. Szervusz

Szervusz is a formal greeting that originated from the Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s commonly used in Western Hungary and for formal occasions. Pronounce it as “ser-voos.”

Tips for Using Hungarian Greetings

Now that you know the various greetings, here are some tips and examples to help you use them correctly:

1. Be Mindful of Context

Consider the appropriate greeting based on the context and the people you are interacting with. Use formal greetings, such as “Jó napot kívánok”, when meeting someone for the first time, in professional settings, or with elderly individuals.

2. Informal Greetings Among Friends

When meeting friends, it’s best to use informal greetings like “Szia” or “Helló.” These greetings create a warm and welcoming atmosphere and help build connections.

3. Pronunciation is Key

Pay attention to the Hungarian pronunciation to ensure your greetings are understood. Practice the phrases carefully and ask native speakers for assistance if needed.

Example:

If your friend’s name is Anna, you would say, “Szia Anna!”

If you want to greet your colleague formally, you can say, “Jó napot kívánok!”

4. Customize Your Greetings

Always try to customize your greetings based on the time of day. Hungarians appreciate it when you use specific phrases in different situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Good morning – Jó reggelt (yo re-gelt)
  • Good afternoon – Jó napot (yo nah-poat)
  • Good evening – Jó estét (yo es-tayt)
  • Good night – Jó éjszakát (yo ey-sah-kaat)

5. Use Non-Verbal Cues

Remember that greetings in Hungarian often include kisses on the cheeks or a firm handshake. Be open to these non-verbal cues and follow the lead of the person you are greeting.

Example:

If you are meeting someone formally, it is customary to shake hands while saying “Jó napot kívánok.”

By now, you should be well-equipped to greet someone in Hungarian. Remember to practice the phrases and adapt them to different situations. Learning basic greetings is not only useful but also shows respect for the local culture. So go ahead and impress the people you meet in Hungary with your warm and friendly “hellos”!

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Written by Deborah Jade

Hi there! I'm Deborah, a language enthusiast, writer, and relentless learner. I have a passion for unlocking the complexities of language, from peculiar pronunciations to multifarious expressions. With practical guides about different dialects and languages under my belt, I thrive on facilitating communication in today's global world. Language barriers? Not on my watch! When I'm not crafting comprehensive guides or exploring linguistic landscapes, I'm probably uncovering the history of a fascinating new word or diving into a new culture through its unique linguistics. Stick around, and together we'll make navigating the language labyrinth a breeze.

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  1. When talking to his Aunty my dad always says, and please forgive my spelling, “Choklom” when she answers the phone. I always assumed that meant “Hello”. Anyway……………………
    I proudly said Choklom to a Hungarian guy and his mum at the local dog park a while ago when they asked me if i knew how to speak Hungarian. The reaction on their faces told me my world was about to change forever.
    It was an awkward kind of “how do i deal with this?” look that was accompanied by an equally awkward short moment of silence that I needed to end ASAP for their sake as they hadn’t lived in Australia long and i was beginning to think they were thinking about moving back to Hungary!?

    The son looked at me in wonder and politely asked me how I came to know that word and what I thought it meant? I told them that growing up as a kid I would hear my dad say it when he called his aunty back in Hungary shortly after she answered the phone.
    “Ah, that makes sense” he said as a wave of relief rolled down their bodies and with that he happily translated
    as best he could which was “I’m honored to kiss your hand or Please allow me to kiss your hand”.
    They said it was an old formal greeting reserved as a sign of respect and acknowledgment.
    Not being one to get easily embarrassed I had a good laugh and said “My apologies and If I’ve offended you both Choklom”.
    Any input on the translation gets a Choklom on both hands:)

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