say hello in polish (and say goodbye too)
Saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” in a language is essential for any conversation. There are numerous ways to say hello in Polish and to bid farewell, depending on the level of formality of a conversation and other factors.
The Informal Way to Say Hello in Polish
“Cześć!” is the most popular way of saying “Hello!” to friends and people you know well. It’s also the safest one to use and will work for all age groups. You can also add someone’s name after it, when greeting one person e.g. “Cześć Agnieszka!”. When entering a room full of people you can say “Cześć wszystkim!”, which means “Hello everyone!”.
Another popular Polish expression used for saying “Hello” is “Siema!”. It’s particularly used by young people. Sometimes you may hear other forms of it such as “Siemano!” and “Siemanko!”.
Yet another way of saying “Hello!”, used mostly by young people, is “Hej!”. You can also encounter a different form of this greeting, “Hejka!”
The greeting “Elo!” is derived from the English “Hello!” and is used solely by young people.
“Joł” is also derived from English and is pronounced exactly like “Yo”. The spelling is different to make it more Polish friendly (it’s a so-called “spolszczenie”). As you’ve probably already guessed, it’s used mostly by young Poles.
“Czołem!” is a bit archaic but some people still use it. It’s an everyday greeting among scouts.
Personally, I find “Serwus!” a bit unnatural but I have met people who use it on regular basis.
Both expressions are used as a way of greeting someone, especially when welcoming them in your house.
The Formal Way to Say Hello in Polish
“Dzień dobry” is an exact equivalent of “Good Day” in English. It can be used throughout the day to greet anyone you don’t know well or people with whom you’re formal for whatever reason. It’s considered polite to use it as you enter a corner shop (but no need to shout it in a supermarket ;)). You can also say Dzień dobry Pani to a woman (Good Day, Ma’am) and Dzień dobry Panu to a man (Good Day, Sir).
In the evening you should replace “Dzień dobry” with “Dobry wieczór”. This should come quite naturally to you as an English speaker – it’s an equivalent of “Good evening”. Similarly like in the case of “Dzień Dobry” you can say Dobry wieczór Pani to a woman and Dobry wieczór Panu to a man. There’s no special Polish way to greet people in the afternoon. You can wish someone a nice afternoon, however, by saying “Miłego popołudnia!”
Poland is considered a deeply Catholic country. It may be less and less true these days, however, you may still hear certain religious greetings. You’re more likely to encounter them outside of big cities and in some regions of the country (for instance, in Silesia).
This expression is roughly translated as “God bless you”. “Szczęść Boże!” is sometimes used by Catholics, especially if dealing with a priest or another representative of the Church.
Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!
This greeting means “Praise be Jesus Christ!”. You’re more likely to hear it in a shortened version “Pochwalony Jezus Chrystus” or even “Pochwalony”. The appropriate reply to this is “Na wieki wieków” or “Na wieki wieków, amen”, which means “For all eternity”.
Informal Ways of Saying Goodbye
Good news! The expression used for greeting people, which you’ve already learned, can be also used to bid farewell. Sometimes you may encounter its slightly different form “No to cześć!”.
This expression translates as “See you!” and is often used in its abbreviated forms “Nara!” and “Narka!”. All of these versions are widely used among young people.
Pa! and Pa, pa!
The closest equivalents of “Pa!” and “Pa, pa!” is “Bye!” and “Bye, bye!”, respectively. These expressions are used indiscriminately by people of all ages in the informal context.
“Do zobaczenia!” is another way of saying “See you!”. Particularly the younger generation uses the shortened version of this expression and says “Do zo!”. “Do” means “until” and is a part of other expressions used to say goodbye, such as:
Do jutra! – See you tomorrow!
Do poniedziałku! – See you on Monday! (it will work with any other day of the week in the same way)
“Do zobaczenia” can also get similar additions. We’d say “Do zobaczenia jutro!” as another way of saying “See you tomorrow!” and “Do zobaczenia w poniedziałek!” to say “See you on Monday!”
If you’re saying goodbye to your coworkers after a week of work or in any other situation when you’d like to wish someone a nice weekend, you can say “Miłego weekendu!”. You can also use a synonymous phrase “Udanego weekendu!”. Similar expressions include:
Miłego dnia! – Have a nice day! (can be used in a more formal context)
Miłego wieczoru! – Have a nice evening! (can be used in a more formal context)
Dobrej/Udanej zabawy! – Have fun!
Formal Expressions of Bidding Farewell
This is the most popular way of saying goodbye in all kinds of formal contexts. It means literally “Until I see you again!”.
This expression is used when finishing a phone conversation. Some people say “Do widzenia!” in this situation too but as it refers to seeing, “Do usłyszenia!”, which translates literally as “Until I hear you again!” is a better choice.
Writing this article has made me realize how rich in expressions Polish is when it comes to saying say hello and goodbye. For you as a language learner it’s good to know, at least passively, all these expressions so that you understand what someone says to you so you know how to react. Once you feel like you’ve got a good grasp on the hellos and goodbyes, check out this post on how to say thank you in Polish too.
Magdalena Osiejewicz-Cooper is a native speaker of Polish. She speaks fluent Italian and French. She is currently self-studying Spanish.