The most "bang for buck" language course
4.7 star rating from 4800+ reviews
One payment for 24/7 lifetime access
60-day money back guarantee
Or until 1000 52 courses sold.
Save 60% Now
Rocket Languages Blog ​How to Say "Hello" in the World's Most Spoken Languages

​How to Say "Hello" in the World's Most Spoken Languages



If you wanted to say hello to everyone on the planet, you'd probably need to learn around 7,000 languages. Fortunately, however, there's a better way to greet as many people on the globe as possible. By learning how to say "hello" in the world's 50 most spoken languages, you would be able to say hello to approximately 80% of the world's population. That's right, you could greet nearly 5.7 billion people!

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:


1. Mandarin Chinese - 1.3 billion 你好 (nǐ hǎo) (informal) 您好 (nín hǎo) (formal) 

2. Spanish - 427 million Hola 

3. English - 339 million Hello/hi 

4. Arabic - 267 million السلام عليكم (as-salām 'alaykum) (response) و عليكم السلام (wa 'alaykum as-salām) (informal) مرحبا (marḥaban)

5. Hindi - 260 million नमस्ते (namaste) नमस्कार (namaskār)

6. Portuguese - 202 million Brazil: Oi Portugal: Olá 

7. Bengali - 189 million হ্যালো (hyālō) 

8. Russian - 171 million Здравствуйте (Zdravstvujte) (formal) Привет (Privet) (informal) 

9. Japanese - 128 million 今日は (konnichiwa)おっす (ossu) (used between close male friends) 

10. Lahnda/Punjabi - 117 million ਸਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਕਾਲ। / ست سِری اَکال (sat srī akāl) ਨਮਸਕਾਰ / نمسکار (namaskar)

11. Javanese - 85 million Halo 

12. Korean - 77 million 안녕하십니까 (annyeong-hasimnikka) (formal) 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) (informal) 안녕 (annyeong) (informal) 

13. Wu Chinese (Shanghainese) - 77 million 侬好 (nóng hō) 大家好 (dâka hō) (hello everybody) 

14. German - 77 million Hallo/Guten Tag/Servus (used in Austria & Bavaria) 

15. French - 76 million Bonjour (formal) Salut (informal) 

16. Telugu - 74 million నమస్కారం (namaskārām)

17. Marathi - 72 million नमस्कार (namaskār)

18. Turkish - (8 total) 71 million Merhaba 

19. Urdu - 69 million (āssālam 'alaykum) السلام علیکم (reply) (wālaikum assalām) وعليكم السلام (informal) (salām) سلام 

20. Vietnamese - 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 - 68 million வணக்கம் (vaṇakkam) (male, formal) வணக்க0 (vaṇakkã) (formal) 

22. Cantonese - 66 million 你好 (néih hóu) 

23. Italian - 63 million Ciao 

24. Persian (Farsi) - 61 million (dorood) درود (salâm) سلام 

25. Malay - 61 million Selamat pagi (good morning) Selamat petang (good afternoon) Selamat malam (good night) Assalamualaikum (used by Muslims) 

26. Thai - 60 million สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dee) 

27. Min Nan Chinese - 49 million 食飽未 (Chia̍h pá boeh?) (literally: Eaten full yet?) 

28. Polish - 46 million Cześć (informal) Dzień dobry (formal) 

29. Gujarati - 46 million નમસ્તે (namaste) 

30. Burmese - 42 million မဂႆလာပၝ (min-ga-la-ba) 

31. Ukrainian - 39 million Вітаю (Vitayu) (formal) Агов (Ahov) (informal) 

32. Malayalam - 34 million നമസ്തെ (namaste) നമസ്കാരം (namaskaram) 

33. Hakka Chinese - 34 million 你好 (ngi2 ho3)
34. Kannada - 34 million ನಮಸ್ತೆ (namaste) ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ (namaskāra) 

35. Oromo - 34 million akkam 

36. Oriya - 31 million ନମସ୍କାର (namascara) 

37. Pashto - 31 million (khe chare) ښې چارې (salaam) سلام (as-salaamu' alaykum) السلام عايك 

38. Berber - 31 million (Salam) مرحبا 

39. Kurdish - 30 million Silaw/Silav (informal) Roj baş (formal) 

40. Amharic - 28 million ሰላም። (sälam) (informal) ታዲያስ። (tadyass) (informal) ጤና ይስጥልኝ። (ṭenaisṭəlləň) (formal) 

41. Sundanese - 27 million Halo (borrowed from Indonesian) 

42. Nepali - 26 million नमस्ते (namaste) 

43. Romanian - 26 million Salut, Bună ziua (more formal) 

44. Bhojpuri - 25 million प्रणाम (prannam)

45. Tagalog - 25 million Musta (informal) Kumusta (formal) ("hello" and "hi" are also used) 

46. Azeri - 24 million Salam/Salam əleyküm (reply) Əleyküm salam

47. Maithili - 24 million Pranam 

48. Hausa - 24 million Sannu/Salama alaikum
A gaishai ka. (reply) Amin. Alaikum salam 

49. Yoruba -23 million Ẹ n lẹ 

50. Serbo-Croatian - 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!

Research before you go, and learn a language. 



Anyway we can get some audio for these?


Hi Alex - Unfortunately with the way the blog is set up we can't currently add audio to blog posts. If there is a particular language that you are interested in then Google Translate should work well enough for that.


That was very interesting. Some countries or language I have never heard of!
In Iran, where I come from, the widely used word is "salam". Like any Islamic country. But the Original Persian equivalent word is "dorood". Just for info ..


The same is true for Morocco. When I worked in Egypt a very long time ago though, it was relatively rare to hear "salaam" as a greeting; rather it was, "Sabaah el kheer", "Sabaah el noor", "Sabaah el ishta" (good morning, afternoon...) or simply "Ahlan" (welcome). It was also rare to see veils. Now people always greet each other with "salaam".


While in China last fall, I learned exactly two words: nǐ hǎo which was helpful when meeting people, and ganbei, which generally translates as "cheers." I later learned another translation is "dry cup," which explains why they were always filling my glass with the 56% alcohol content "wine" they have there...


Ganbei. Good word. I've got it memorized. The other one with the funny squiggles looks too difficult. Why worry about "hello" when you have "dry cup" in your skill set? I am ready for China. 


Those squiggly marks over the letters are tone markers.  Gānbēi is actually two high tones. They said that a lot at my wedding.


I call them squiggly marks to showcase my extensive vocabulary. Learning a tonal language must be incredibly difficult. And I've always wondered how one can sing in such a language.

Must have been an interesting wedding. I don't get invited to such classy events as the polite gānbēis get drowned out by raucous cries of dry cup...


Hey Jason, thanks for the info. BTW, it's Australia in the third row second column not Austria. It's a common mistake if you're not an Aussie but it does tend to get on an Australian's nerves when we see that. 
Oh another one I picked up on as well, well maybe a bit of an oversight more than a mistake...Canada is not among your list  who say "Hello or Hi (unless you're saying they're North American of course)

Regards, Grant



Grant: I am guessing that the Canadians will be just as annoyed at being lumped in with the US as you Aussies are at being mistaken for Austrians. Nothing against Austrians, but given the choice I will hang out with you Aussies any have better accents and bigger beers.


Hi Grant - Whoops! Coming from New Zealand you would have thought that I would have picked that one up! Anyway, it is now amended.


Hey thanks Jason, what about Canada?


Hi Grant - Canada is covered by being in North America!


Yeah it's funny. To me, Canada is another country. It is north of America. Not North America. You don't call Papua New Guinea "North Australia or South Indonesia"



Not only to you, Grant, but to geographers around the world. The United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and Greenland are countries on the continent of North America.

This is starting to remind me of the great Randy Newman song, Political Science.


I actually knew ten of these greetings! Audio with it would be great if possible! This article was fun and informative...pardon my geek!
David K

David K

Thanks for this great article. I'm surprised to see how many of the most common languages come from the  India, Pakestan, and Bangladesh region.  But I shouldn't be since there are about 1.5 billion plus people in that area.  For some reason I incorrectly thought they all spoke Hindi. 
I was also surprise out how many distinct languages there are in China.