How to say hello in different languages

Say Ni hao! to greet people in China and you will earn their respect. This is common in all countries all over the world. People appreciate when you know a few words in their own language. They see it more positive the more difficult the language is. By knowing at least how to say hello in different languages you show that you are not ignorant and you respect local culture.

How to be efficient in languages learning?

My professional job is about continuous improvement of manufacturing processes – make them more effective with less waste and higher efficiency. This has also influence on my personal life. I’m always analyzing what I’m doing and in the end, I’m struggling to do it in the most effective way (that’s why I run this blog – you can read about it a little bit in About Lean Traveller Guide :-)) In this post I want to write some words about effective languages learning. What is possible and what no?

Tim Ferris, author of “4-hour body” and “4-hour work week” introduced the phrase “Minimum effective dose” saying that 20% of efforts bring 80% of success. This is a well-known 80/20 Pareto rule which can be applied also to languages. John Fotheringham on his blog Language Mastery gives a good example of Pareto rule in the Japanese language. Despite 50,000 characters described in “The Great Han–Japanese Dictionary”, the Japanese Ministry of Education selects the most common use and limit it to  2136. This means that you should learn 2136 symbols to be able to read most of the Japanese publications. It’s just 4% of “words” to be able to communicate. This is the efficient way to learn languages.

How to say hello in different languages is not enough

What is the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) in learning a foreign language according to Tim Ferris? You should learn 1,200 highest frequency words and their usage with duolingo.comiKnow.jp, or memrise.com. These apps are based on MED approach – it’s built-in, so it’s pretty easy way to start.  As it is written in the Duolingo Effectiveness Study it takes 34 hours to learn the equivalent of a first college semester’s worth of Spanish. The key to success here is to be as much systematic as you can. But don’t worry. Whenever you will stop, Duolingo will spam you in all possible ways to remind you that you skipped the lesson :-).

75 most common phrases in 5 different languages

It will take some time to master these 1200 words in the selected language. In the meantime I collected the most useful phrases in the languages of the countries I visit quite often. These will allow you to manage in hotels, restaurants, on the railway stations, airports, bars and other places of interest for each business traveller.

Keep in mind that behind some phrases stands culture, local customs, and tradition which is not commented in the table below. For example, if you order a beer in China (Qing gěi wo yibei píjiu), don’t forget to add “cold” (Bīnglěng) otherwise, you will be served with the beer in the room temperature :-).

Category breakdown

Use the search field above the table to list the categories which you are interested most:

Basic phrases and greetings – basically how to say hello in different languages and some more daily speech phrases.

Language – how to ask somebody to speak slower or repeat.

Shopping & Money – it’s too expensive 🙂 and some more useful phrases in shopping.

Transportation – at what time my transport departs?

Eating & Drinking – how to order the local dish and some more …

Directions – useful phrases on how to get to …

Sightseeing – how to ask about what I should visit around my destination.

Accommodations – do I have a reservation? And some more phrases on how to manage in the hotel.

Health & Emergencies – how to ask for help.

Use Google Translate to check the pronunciation of the phrases.

CategoryEnglishGermanFrenchMandarin ChineseSpanischPortuguese
Basic phrases and greetings Hello!Hallo!Salut!Ni hao!¡Hola!Olá!
Basic phrases and greetings How are you?Wie geht es dir?   / Was geht?Comment allez-vous?   / Quoi de neuf? Ni hao ma?¿Cómo estás?   / ¿Que pasa?Como você está?   / Estás bem?
Basic phrases and greetingsGood / BadGut / schlechtBon / mauvaisHao / huaiBueno / maloBom / mau
Basic phrases and greetings PleaseBitteS'il vous plaît qingPor favorPor favor
Basic phrases and greetings Thank youVielen DankJe vous remercie xiexieGraciasObrigado
Basic phrases and greetings You’re WelcomeBitteDe rien bié keqiDe nadaSeja bem-vindo
Basic phrases and greetings GoodbyeAuf WiedersehenAu revoir zaijianAdiósAdeus
Basic phrases and greetings Excuse meEntschuldigen Sie michExcusez-moi darao yixiaDisculpeCom licença
Basic phrases and greetings I’m sorryEs tut mir LeidJe suis désolé duibuqiLo sientoEu sinto Muito
Basic phrases and greetings What’s your name?Wie heißen Sie?Quel est ton nom? ni jiao shénme míngzi?¿Cuál es tu nombre?Qual o seu nome?
Basic phrases and greetingsMy name is…Ich bin / Mein Name ist / Ich werde Je suis / Mon nom est / Je suis appelé Wo de míngzi shi…Soy / Mi nombre es / Me llaman Eu sou… / Meu nome é… / eu sou chamado…
Basic phrases and greetings Nice to meet youSchön dich zu treffenRavi de vous rencontrer hěn gaoxing jian dao niEncantada de conocertePrazer em conhecê-lo
Basic phrases and greetings What do you do for a living?Womit verdienst Du Deinen Lebensunterhalt?Comment gagnez-vous votre vie? ni yi shénme wéi sheng?¿A qué se dedica?Qual é a sua profissão?
Basic phrases and greetings I’m a/an…Ich bin ein / ein Je suis un / un Wo shi/ ...Soy un / una Eu sou um / um
Basic phrases and greetings What do you do for fun? / What are your hobbies?Was machst du zum Spaß?   / Was sind deine Hobbies?Que faites-vous pour le plaisir?   / Quels sont vos hobbies? Ni píngshí you shé me yúle huódong? / Ni de aihao shi shénme?¿Qué haces para divertirte?   / ¿Cuáles son tus aficiones?O que você faz para se divertir?   / Quais são seus hobbies?
Basic phrases and greetings YesJaOui ShiSim
Basic phrases and greetings NoNeinNon méiyouNoNão
Language Do you speak…?Sprechen Sie…?Parlez-vous…?Ni hui shuo…?Hablas…?Você fala…?
Language I speak a little…Ich spreche ein bisschen…Je parle un peu… Wo jiang yidiandian…Hablo un poco…Eu falo um pouco…
Language Could you please speak a little slower?Könnten Sie bitte etwas langsamer sprechen?Pourriez-vous s'il vous plaît parler un peu plus lentement? ni néng shuo man yi dian ma?¿Podría hablar un poco más lento?Você poderia por favor falar um pouco mais devagar?
Language Could you repeat that?Kannst du das wiederholen?Pourriez vous répéter ça? Ni néng zaishuo yibian ma?¿Podría repetir eso?Você poderia repetir isso?
Language What time is it?Wie spät ist es?Quelle heure est-il? Ji dianle?¿Que hora es?Que horas são?
LanguageOne / two / three / … / tenEins / zwei / drei / / zehnUn / deux / trois / / dixYi/er/san/ ... /ShíUno / dos / tres / / diezUm / dois / três /… / dez
LanguageIt’s (five) o’clockEs ist 0500 UhrIl est cinq heuresxianzai wu dian zhongSon las cinco en puntoSão cinco horas em ponto
Language How much?Wie viel?Combien? duoshao?¿Cuánto cuesta?Quantos?
Language I would like…Ich möchte…J'aimerais… Wo xiang yao…Me gustaría…Eu gostaria…
Language Can I pay by credit card/debit card?Kann ich mit Kreditkarte / Debitkarte bezahlen?Puis-je payer par carte de crédit / carte de débit? wo kěyi yong xinyongka/jie ji ka fukuan ma?¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de crédito / débito?Posso pagar com cartão de crédito / débito?
Language Here you goBitte schönVoici Gan dé haoAqui tienesAqui está
Shopping & Money Could I see this/that one?Könnte ich das sehen?Puis-je voir ceci / celui-là? wo néng kan dao zhege/nage ma?¿Podría ver este / aquél?Eu poderia ver isto / aquilo?
Shopping & Money It’s too expensiveEs ist zu teuerC'est trop cher Tai guiEs muy caroÉ muito caro
Shopping & Money I’ll give you… for itIch gebe dir dafürJe vais te donner pour ça wo hui gěi ni...... Yinwei taTe daré por esoEu vou te dar por isso
Shopping & Money Where can I exchange money?Wo kann ich Geld wechseln?Où puis-je échanger de l'argent? wo kěyi zai nali duihuan huobi?¿Dónde puedo cambiar dinero?Onde posso trocar dinheiro?
Shopping & Money A one-way/return ticket to… pleaseEin Einweg- / Hin- und Rückfahrtticket für bitteUn aller simple ou retour à s'il vous plaît Danchéng/wangfan jipiao, qing...Un boleto de ida / regreso a por favorUm bilhete de ida / volta para… por favor
Shopping & Money Here’s my passportHier ist mein ReisepassVoici mon passeport Zhe shi wo de huzhaoAquí está mi pasaporteAqui está o meu passaporte
Transportation What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry from… arrive?Wann kommt der Bus / Zug / Flugzeug / Fähre von an?A quelle heure le bus / train / avion / ferry arrive-t-il? bashi/huoche/feiji/dulún cóng...... Daodá shénme shíjian?¿A qué hora llega el autobús / tren / avión / ferry desde ?A que horas chega o ônibus / trem / avião / balsa de…?
Transportation What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry to… depart?Um wie viel Uhr fährt der Bus / Zug / Flugzeug / Fähre?A quelle heure part le bus / train / avion / ferry pour partir? Gonggong qiche/huoche/feiji/dulún shénme shíhou chufa?¿A qué hora sale el autobús / tren / avión / ferry para ?A que horas o ônibus / trem / avião / balsa para… parte?
Transportation Which platform/gate/terminal?Welche Plattform / Gate / Terminal?Quelle plate-forme / porte / terminal? Nage píngtái/damén/zhongduan?¿Qué plataforma / puerta / terminal?Qual plataforma / portão / terminal?
Transportation Is the bus/train/plane direct?Ist der Bus / Zug / Flugzeug direkt?Est-ce que le bus / train / avion est direct? Bashi/huoche/feiji shi zhíjie de ma?¿El autobús / tren / avión es directo?O ônibus / trem / avião é direto?
Transportation Do I need a seat reservation?Benötige ich eine Platzreservierung?Ai-je besoin d'une réservation de siège? Wo xuyao yuding zuowei ma?¿Necesito una reserva de asiento?Preciso de uma reserva de assento?
Transportation Is this seat taken?Ist dieser Platz besetzt?Est-ce que cette place est occupée? Zhege zuowei yourén ma?¿Está ocupado este asiento?Este assento está ocupado?
Transportation Could you call me a taxi?Kannst du mir ein Taxi rufen?Pourrais-tu m'appeler un taxi? Ni néng jiao wo chuzu che ma?¿Podrías llamarme un taxi?Você poderia me chamar de táxi?
Transportation I’d like to go to…Ich würde gerne nach gehen…J'aimerais aller à… Wo xiang qu......Me gustaría ir a…Eu gostaria de ir para…
Transportation Could you let me know when to get off?Kannst du mich wissen lassen, wann du aussteigen sollst?Pourriez-vous me dire quand partir? Ni néng rang wo zhidao shénme shíhou xia che ma?¿Podrías decirme cuándo bajar?Você poderia me dizer quando sair?
Eating & Drinking What would you recommend?Was würden Sie empfehlen?Que recommanderais-tu? Ni hui tuijian shénme?¿Qué recomendarías?O que você recomendaria?
Eating & Drinking What are some local specialties?Was sind lokale Spezialitäten?Quelles sont les spécialités locales? Shénme shi dangdi tese cai?¿Cuáles son algunas especialidades locales?Quais são algumas especialidades locais?
Eating & Drinking Could I see the menu, please?Könnte ich bitte das Menü sehen?Puis-je consulter le menu, s'il-vous-plaît? Wo kěyi kan kan caidan ma?¿Podria ver el menu porfavor?Eu poderia ver o menu, por favor?
Eating & Drinking A beer/coffee/tea, pleaseEin Bier / Kaffee / Tee, bitteUne bière / café / thé, s'il vous plaît Qing gěi wo yibei píjiu/kafei/cháUna cerveza / café / té, por favorUma cerveja / café / chá, por favor
Eating & Drinking Could I get the bill, please / Check, pleaseKönnte ich bitte die Rechnung bekommen? / Die Rechnung bittePourrais-je avoir le projet de loi, s'il vous plaît? / L'addition svp wo néng ná dao zhangdan ma? Qing jianchá¿Podría obtener la factura, por favor? / El cheque por favorEu poderia receber a conta, por favor / A conta por favor
Eating & Drinking That was delicious!Das war lecker!C'était délicieux! na tai hao chile!Eso fue delicioso!Isso foi delicioso!
Eating & Drinking Let’s have another!Lass uns noch eins haben!Ayons un autre! Rang women you ling yige!¡Vamos a tener otro!Vamos ter outro!
Directions How do I get to…?Wie komme ich nach…?Comment puis-je aller à…? Wo zěnme qu…?Como llego a…?Como faço para chegar até…?
Directions It’s on the left/on the right/straight ahead/at the cornerEs ist auf der linken Seite / auf der rechten Seite / geradeaus / an der EckeC'est sur la gauche / sur la droite / droit devant / au coin Ta zai zuobian/zai youbian/zheng qiánfang/zai jiaoluoEstá a la izquierda / a la derecha / al frente / en la esquinaEstá à esquerda / à direita / em frente / na esquina
Directions How far is…?Wie weit ist…?À quelle distance est…? you duo yuan…?Que tan lejos esta…?Quão longe é…?
Directions Where is the closest bank/post office/exchange office?Wo ist die nächste Bank / Post / Wechselstube?Où se trouve la banque / bureau de poste / bureau de change le plus proche? Zuijin de yínháng/yóujú/duihuan chu zai nali?¿Dónde está el banco / oficina postal / oficina de cambio más cercana?Onde fica o banco / correios mais próximo / escritório de câmbio?
Directions Where can I find tourist information?Wo finde ich touristische Informationen?Où puis-je trouver des informations touristiques? Wo zai nali kěyi zhaodao luyóu xinxi?¿Dónde puedo encontrar información turística?Onde posso encontrar informações turísticas?
Directions Do you have a map?Haben Sie eine Karte?Avez-vous une carte? Ni you ditú ma?¿Tienes un mapa?Você tem um mapa?
Directions Can you show me that on the map?Kannst du mir das auf der Karte zeigen?Pouvez-vous me montrer cela sur la carte? Ni néng zai ditú shang gaosu wo ma?¿Puedes mostrarme eso en el mapa?Você pode me mostrar isso no mapa?
Directions Where is the (AmericanWo ist das?Où est le (American (Měiguó rén) zai nali?¿Dónde está el (estadounidenseOnde está o (americano
Sightseeing What is the entrance fee?Was ist der Eintrittspreis?Quel est le prix d'entrée? Ru chang fei shi duoshao?¿Cuál es la tarifa de entrada?Qual é a taxa de entrada?
Sightseeing What is that building?Was ist das Gebäude?Quel est ce bâtiment? Na dong jianzhú shi shénme?¿Qué es ese edificio?O que é esse edifício?
Sightseeing What’s on at the cinema/theatre/opera tonight?Was läuft heute Abend im Kino / Theater / Oper?Que se passe-t-il au cinéma / théâtre / opéra ce soir? Jin wan zai dianyingyuan/juyuan/ge juyuan zhengzai jinxíng shénme?¿Qué hay en el cine / teatro / ópera esta noche?O que há no cinema / teatro / ópera hoje à noite?
Sightseeing That’s a beautiful church/cathedral/buildingDas ist eine schöne Kirche / Kathedrale / GebäudeC'est une belle église / cathédrale / bâtiment Zhe shi yizuo měili de jiaotáng/da jiaotáng/jianzhúEsa es una hermosa iglesia / catedral / edificioEssa é uma bela igreja / catedral / edifício
Sightseeing What is there to see around here?Was gibt es hier zu sehen?Qu'y a-t-il à voir ici? zhe li you shé me kěyi kan dao de?¿Qué hay para ver por aquí?O que há para ver por aqui?
Accommodations I have a reservationIch habe eine ReservierungJ'ai une réservation Wo yudingle zuoweiTengo una reservaciónTenho uma reserva
Accommodations Do you have any single/double rooms available?Haben Sie Einzel- / Doppelzimmer zur Verfügung?Avez-vous des chambres simples / doubles disponibles? ni you dan rén/shuangrén fáng ma?¿Tiene habitaciones individuales / dobles disponibles?Você tem quartos individuais / duplos disponíveis?
Accommodations Could I see the room?Kann ich das Zimmer sehen?Puis-je voir la pièce? Wo néng kan kan fángjian ma?¿Podría ver la habitación?Eu poderia ver o quarto?
Accommodations I’d like to stay for… nightsIch würde gerne für Nächte bleibenJ'aimerais rester pour nuits Wo xiang liú xialái... WanshangMe gustaría quedarme por nochesEu gostaria de ficar por noites
Accommodations Is breakfast included?Ist das Frühstück inbegriffen?Le petit déjeuner est-il inclus? baohán zaocan ma?¿El desayuno está incluido?O café da manhã está incluído?
Accommodations The TV/air conditioner/lamp in my room doesn’t workDer Fernseher / Klimaanlage / Lampe in meinem Zimmer funktioniert nichtLa télé / climatiseur / lampe dans ma chambre ne fonctionne pas Wo fángjian li de dianshi/kongtiáo/deng bu gongzuoLa TV / aire acondicionado / lámpara en mi habitación no funcionaA TV / ar condicionado / lâmpada no meu quarto não funciona
Accommodations Could I get a different room?Könnte ich ein anderes Zimmer bekommen?Pourrais-je avoir une pièce différente? wo kěyi dédao butóng de fángjian ma?¿Podría obtener una habitación diferente?Eu poderia conseguir um quarto diferente?
Health & Emergencies Help!Hilfe!Aidez-moi! Bang bang wo!¡Ayuda!Socorro!
Health & Emergencies I need a doctor/dentist/police officerIch brauche einen Arzt / Zahnarzt / PolizeibeamtenJ'ai besoin d'un médecin / dentiste / policier Wo xuyao yi míng yisheng/yáyi/jingcháNecesito un doctor / dentista / oficial de policíaEu preciso de um médico / dentista / policial
Health & Emergencies Is there pharmacy nearby?Gibt es eine Apotheke in der Nähe?Y a-t-il une pharmacie à proximité? fujin you yaofáng ma?¿Hay farmacia cerca?Existe farmácia nas proximidades?
Health & Emergencies Call the police/ambulance!Ruf die Polizei / den Krankenwagen an!Appelez la police / ambulance! Jiao jingchá/jiuhu che!¡Llama a la policía / ambulancia!Ligue para a polícia / ambulância!
Health & Emergencies Leave me alone!Lass mich allein!Laisse-moi tranquille! Qing bié darao wo!¡Déjame solo!Me deixe em paz!

Featured image source: pixabay.com

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