How To Say Hello In Switzerland

Switzerland is an extremely charming and unique country for many reasons, but my favorite one may be in respect to its languages. German, French, Italian, and Romansh (an obscure Romance language spoken by less than 1 percent of the population) are all official national languages.

Yup, you read that correctly. There are four official languages for the relatively small country of Switzerland. Naturally this leads to an interesting linguistic mix, one in which elements of one language easily blend with another. Considering this factor, you can probably gather that how to say hello in Switzerland depends quite a bit on your context.

We’ve been attempting to learn German with the help of a tutor during our stay in Zurich and found this topic particularly useful. Without further ado, here are the different ways you can say hello in Switzerland and the cases in which it’s appropriate to use each one according to what we’ve learned thus far.

Grüezi

Phonetic pronunciation: kroot-zee
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Formal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

Learn this word. Grüezi is by far the most common greeting we’ve heard used while staying in Switzerland. It was also a word we’d never heard (or heard of) before, causing a little confusion our first few days when we had no idea what people were saying to us.

This is the greeting you receive at the cash register at the grocery store, when out at restaurants, or when passing a friendly stranger.

Hoi

Phonetic pronunciation: hoy
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

“Hoi” is a great way to casually greet people you know, similar to how “hi” is used in English. This is the second most common greeting that we’ve heard used during our time in Switzerland.

Sali

Phonetic pronunciation: sal-ee
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

“Sali” is an alternate way to greet people you know, similar to “hoi.” We haven’t heard “sali” used quite as much, but it’s a good word to have in your language toolbox.

Salü

Phonetic pronunciation: sal-oo
Language: French
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: French-speaking regions of Switzerland

This is a fun word to say. Go on, just give it a try. It’s pretty evident in the sound that this one has a French flair. We haven’t visited the French-speaking region of Switzerland yet, but we look forward to testing this greeting out when we do!

Tschau

Phonetic pronunciation: chow
Language: Italian
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: Italian-speaking and German-speaking regions of Switzerland

It’s pronounced just like the Italian “ciao,” the spelling is just derived from German. “Tschau” is a word that we’ve seen used regularly during our visit. It’s also a word that Kevin’s grandparents (both of whom are Swiss from German-speaking regions) use frequently.

Hallo

Phonetic pronunciation: haul-loh
Language: High German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

It’s not difficult here to see a striking similarity to “hello.” “Hallo” is a less formal greeting in High German. From our experience, “hallo” is used often, but not quite as often as “hoi.”

Guten Tag

Phonetic pronunciation: goo-ten taug
Language: High German
Level of formality: Formal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

This literally translates to “good day” in English, so you can imagine that it is used in a formal context. Our tutor told us that “guten tag” is really more of a German greeting than a Swiss one.

So while people will understand you if you choose this greeting, it’s not that commonly used by the Swiss.

That’s what we have so far! I hope this article has provided some insight for you and will make your trip to Switzerland a little easier from the get-go. Let us know if learn how to say hello in Switzerland in different ways via the comment section below!

How'd we do? Do you have any experience with this topic, or are you planning to get some soon and have some questions in advance? Let us know about them in the comments below! Or, if we made any mistakes in this article, please kindly let us know in the comments below and we'll strive to make this website an even better resource.

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This