Before we take a look at how to say hello in some of the world's most spoken languages, it's important to clarify that discovering exactly which languages are the most spoken is no easy task. Despite all of the information available, no sources seem to agree upon the total number of speakers since this information isn't readily available for many languages. Many sources offer information about the total number of native speakers by country, and don't take into account non-native language learners. That's why I opted for the information provided by SIL International's Ethnologue, an online publication dedicated to researching the world's languages. The information included the approximate number of native speakers, and, as always, is an educated estimate.
Are you ready to learn how to say hi in the 50 most spoken languages in the world?
Let's take a trip around the world and learn how to greet 80% of the world's population: Language Countries with the Most speakers # Native Speakers "Hello" 1. Mandarin Chinese China 1.3 billion 你好 [nǐ hǎo] (informal)
您好 [nín hǎo] (formal) 2. Spanish Mexico, South America, Spain (31 total) 427 million Hola 3. English North America, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand (106 total) 339 million Hello/hi 4. Arabic Saudi Arabia, Egypt (58 total) 267 million [as-salām 'alaykum] السلام عليكم
(response) [wa 'alaykum as-salām] و عليكم السلام
(informal) [marḥaban] مرحبا 5. Hindi India 260 million नमस्ते [namaste]
नमस्कार [namaskār] 6. Portuguese Brazil, Portugal (12 total) 202 million Brazil: Oi
Portugal: Olá 7. Bengali Bangladesh 189 million হ্যালো [hyālō] 8. Russian Russian Federation (17 total) 171 million Здравствуйте [Zdravstvujte] (formal)
Привет [Privet] (informal) 9. Japanese Japan 128 million 今日は [konnichiwa]
おっす [ossu] (used between close male friends) 10. Lahnda/Punjabi Pakistan, India 117 million ਸਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਕਾਲ। / ست سِری اَکال [sat srī akāl]
ਨਮਸਕਾਰ / نمسکار [namaskar] 11. Javanese Indonesia 85 million Halo 12. Korean South Korea, North Korea 77 million 안녕하십니까 [annyeong-hasimnikka] (formal)
안녕하세요 [annyeonghaseyo] (informal)
안녕 [annyeong] (informal) 13. Wu Chinese
(Shanghainese) China 77 million 侬好 [nóng hō]
大家好[dâka hō] (hello everybody) 14. German Germany, Austria, Switzerland, (26 total) 77 million Hallo
Servus (used in Austria & Bavaria) 15. French Europe, Africa, Caribbean, Canada (53 total) 76 million Bonjour (formal)
Salut (informal) 16. Telugu India 74 million నమస్కారం [namaskārām] 17. Marathi India 72 million नमस्कार [namaskār] 18. Turkish Turkey (8 total) 71 million Merhaba 19. Urdu Pakistan, India 69 million [āssālam 'alaykum] السلام علیکم
(reply) [wālaikum assalām] وعليكم السلام
(informal) [salām] سلام 20. Vietnamese Vietnam 68 million chào bạn (informal)
Chào anh (addressing a male, formal)
Chào chị (addressing a female, formal)
chào em (younger male or female) 21. Tamil India (7 total) 68 million வணக்கம் [vaṇakkam] (male, formal)
வணக்க0 [vaṇakkã] (formal) 22. Cantonese Chinese China 66 million 你好 [néih hóu] 23. Italian Italy (13 total) 63 million Ciao [chow] 24. Persian (Farsi) Afghanistan, Iran (6 total) 61 million [dorood] درود
[salâm] سلام 25. Malay Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand (16 total) 61 million Selamat pagi (good morning)
Selamat petang (good afternoon)
Selamat malam (good night)
Assalamualaikum (used by Muslims) 26. Thai Thailand 60 million สวัสดี [sà-wàt-dee] 27. Min Nan Chinese China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines (7 total) 49 million 食飽未 [Chia̍h pá boeh?] (literally: Eaten full yet?) 28. Polish Poland 46 million Cześć (informal)
Dzień dobry (formal) 29. Gujarati India, Pakistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe (8 total) 46 million નમસ્તે [namaste] 30. Burmese Myanmar 42 million မဂႆလာပၝ [min-ga-la-ba] 31. Ukrainian Ukraine 39 million Вітаю [Vitayu] (formal)
Агов [Ahov] (informal) 32. Malayalam India 34 million നമസ്തെ [namaste]
നമസ്കാരം [namaskaram] 33. Hakka Chinese China, Indonesia, Malaysia (9 total) 34 million 你好 [ngi2 ho3]
34. Kannada India 34 million ನಮಸ್ತೆ [namaste]
ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ [namaskāra] 35. Oromo Ethiopia, Kenya 34 million akkam 36. Oriya India 31 million ନମସ୍କାର [namascara] 37. Pashto Afghanistan, Pakistan, India 31 million [khe chare] ښې چارې
[as-salaamu' alaykum] السلام عايك 38. Berber Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Nigeria 31 million [Salam] مرحبا 39. Kurdish Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria 30 million Silaw/Silav (informal)
Roj baş (formal) 40. Amharic Ethiopia and Israel 28 million ሰላም። [sälam] (informal)
ታዲያስ። [tadyass] (informal)
ጤና ይስጥልኝ። [ṭenaisṭəlləň] (formal) 41. Sundanese Indonesia 27 million Halo (borrowed from Indonesian) 42. Nepali Nepal, India, Bhutan 26 million नमस्ते [namaste] 43. Romanian Romania, Moldova (7 total) 26 million Salut
Bună ziua (more formal) 44. Bhojpuri India, Mauritius, Nepal 25 million प्रणाम [prannam] 45. Tagalog The Phillippines 25 million Musta (informal)
("hello" and "hi" are also used) 46. Azeri Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey 24 million Salam
Əleyküm salam (reply) 47. Maithili India, Nepal 24 million Pranam 48. Hausa Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan (8 total) 24 million Sannu
A gaishai ka.
(reply) Amin. Alaikum salam 49. Yoruba Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Sierra Leon 23 million Ẹ n lẹ 50. Serbo-Croatian Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia (7 total) 21 million Здраво [Zdravo] No Easy Greeting A quick scan through all of the different ways to say "hello" reveals that a simple greeting is often more complicated than we English speakers imagine. Whether or not the greeting is formal or informal, masculine or feminine, and even the age or religion of the speakers involved can play a role in determining which greeting to use.
Languages reflect cultures and history, and we English speakers are a relatively informal, straightforward group of people. In many cultures, language reflects complex social hierarchies, norms and gender roles, and the best way to learn these languages is to respect and embrace these rules. It may not be easy, but learning a language and how to communicate with its native speakers provides countless benefits and helps you to understand a whole new way of seeing the world.
So what are you waiting for? Starting learning a new language today!
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