After a series of lessons based on the Italian grammar,

07/13/2009 - 11:33

After a series of lessons based on the Italian grammar, we switch to another important aspect of Italian language - also to answer at a comment made by lisiamic,

"Greetings.  When is the right time to switch to Buonasera?  After noon? After 2 pm? After 4 pm?  I seem to get funny looks no matter which I try. Can I just cheat and use Salve in the early afternoon?"

According to the part of a day you can say:

Buongiorno - in the morning, before 1 p.m.

Buon Pomeriggio - early in the afternoon

Buona Sera - after about 6 p.m.

Buona Notte - said when you go to bed 

ATTENTION: Don't assume this categorization is fully respected. I need to say that Italians rarely say "buon pomeriggio". For example, even if it may sounds a little odd to say "buonasera" when you meet someone at a coffee bar, "buongiorno" would sounds even more odd, given the fact that midday is already passed.

When to say "Ciao"

Of course we say "ciao" the same you say "hi" to your friends. It is considered informal and it's not related to time.


1) Note we use more "sera" than "notte", as you can see from the expressions:

Tonight - Questa sera:  "Would you like to go to a pizzeria tonight?" - "Ti piacerebbe andare in pizzeria stasera"?

2) "Salve" is considered kind and formal and you can use it to replace every greeting - especially when you're not really sure about which of the above to use.

Find greetings and much more about Italian Language to this link:

Hope this may help to talk with Italian native speakers or at least to start a speech! In bocca al lupo!

Prima il dovere e poi il piacere

Enjoy this funny spot which made famous also one of the above greetings:




I've forgotten to add that common expressions are also:

"Buona giornata"

"Buona serata

They should be considered as wishes rather than greetings, in fact they could be translated as:

"Have a nice day"

"Have a good night" - again this is another example of how the "sera" related expressions are greatly used in Italian when in English is used "night".

When you go away you can say "Goodbye" which means "Arrivederci", while the friendlier "ciao ciao" should correspond to "bye bye". 

Note that Goodbye could also mean "addio" - when you go away from a place for good. 

We often say "I hate to say goodbye..." = Odio gli addii..

Greetings in Letters

In a letter you may end with a "Saluti" (Regards) or with a more formal expression "Cordiali saluti" (Best Wishes). 

See you...

It's translated with "Ci vediamo..", as in the following examples:

  • Ci vediamo dopo / più tardi - See you later
  • Ci vediamo domani - See you tomorrow

Another way to replace "goodbye" is "a presto" (See you soon), and that's right the way I wish to greet you:

A presto!