How to Say Good Morning, Good Night, and Good Day in Hebrew

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14-09-2020, 11:10
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"Shalom" (shah-lohm) is the Hebrew language's general, all-purpose greeting. While it literally means "peace," it is also used as a greeting and a farewell. However, there are also other ways to greet people in Hebrew, depending on the time of day. Some time-specific greetings are used to say "hello," while others are more appropriately used when you're ending a conversation and taking your leave.

Greeting People in Hebrew

  1. Say "shalom" in any situation. If you want to greet someone in Hebrew, "shalom" (shah-lohm) is the main word to use. It's appropriate as a greeting regardless of the context, the age of the person you're greeting, or how well you know them.
    • On the Sabbath (Saturday) you can also say "Shabbat Shalom" (shah-baht shah-lohm), which literally means "Sabbath peace" or "peaceful Sabbath."
  2. Switch up your greeting by saying "shalom aleikhem" (shah-lohm ah-ley-khem). This greeting is commonly used in Israel. Like "shalom" by itself, it's appropriate in any situation when greeting anyone.
    • This greeting is related to the Arabic greeting "salaam alaikum" and both greetings mean literally the same thing: "peace upon you." There's a lot of overlap between Arabic and Hebrew because the two languages belong to the same language family.
  3. Use "ahlan" (ah-hah-lahn) to say "hi" more casually. "Ahlan" is borrowed from Arabic. Hebrew speakers use it in the same way Arabic speakers do, as a simple "hi." While it's far more casual than "shalom," you can still use it to greet anyone, young or old, in casual contexts.
    • In a more formal situation, or when speaking to someone in a position of authority, this may be too casual a greeting.

Using Time-Specific Greetings

  1. Say "boker tov" (boh-kehr tahv) to greet people in the morning. "Boker tov" is a general greeting that you can use instead of "shalom" as long as it's before midday. It's suitable in any context, regardless of who you're greeting.
    • Israelis may respond "boker or," which means "morning light." This phrase is only used in response to "boker tov." You can also respond by simply saying "boker tov" back.
  2. Try "tzoharaim tovim" (tsoh-hah-rye-ihm tahv-ihm) as a greeting around noon. The phrase "tzoharaim tovim" literally means "good midday." While you may hear it anytime after noon and before sunset, it's generally more appropriate in the early afternoon.
    • If you want to use this phrase later in the afternoon, but before evening, add "akhar" (ahk-hahr) to the beginning of it. Since "tzoharaim tovim" means "good midday," "akhar tzoharaim tovim" means "good after-midday" or "good afternoon." This phrase can be used until the sun sets.
  3. Switch to "erev tov" (ehr-ehv tahv) after the sun sets. This phrase means "good evening," and is appropriate as a greeting after the sun sets, but before late night. This is a more formal phrase that you probably wouldn't use around friends or people your own age. However, it's appropriate to use in shops, restaurants, or when greeting a stranger – particularly if they are older than you and you want to sound polite.
    • In response to "erev tov," many people will simply say "erev tov" back. They may also say "shalom" or ask how you're doing or how they can help you.
  4. Use "lilah tov" (lie-lah tahv) late at night. This phrase literally means "good night," and is used as both a greeting and a farewell in Hebrew. It's appropriate in any context, regardless of who you're greeting.
    • If someone says "lilah tov" to you, it's appropriate to say "lilah tov" back. You can also simply say "shalom."

Saying Farewell

  1. Use "shalom" (shah-lohm) to mean also "goodbye." In Hebrew, "shalom" is an all-purpose greeting that can be used both when you're meeting someone and when you're parting ways. If you're not sure exactly what to say, this is an appropriate word to use.
    • "Shalom" is appropriate with anyone, regardless of how old you are or how well you know them.
  2. Try "lehitra'ot" (leh-hiht-rah-oht) as an alternative to "shalom." "Lehitra'ot" is more like saying "see you later," but it's also used as a standard way of saying "goodbye" in Israel. If you learn any other way to say "goodbye" other than "shalom," learn this.
    • This is a little more difficult to pronounce than other basic Hebrew words, such as "shalom," but if you travel to Israel, you'll hear it quite a bit. Just start slow and practice your pronunciation. A native speaker can help you.
  3. Switch to "yom tov" (yahm tahv) to wish someone a good day. Just as you might say "have a good day" in English when you're parting ways with someone, Hebrew speakers say "yom tov." While this phrase literally means "good day," it's only used as a parting or farewell phrase, never as a greeting.
    • You can also say "yom nifla" (yahm nee-flah), which means "have a wonderful day." It's a little more enthusiastic than "yom tov," but it's also appropriate in any context with any person.
  4. Say "bye" or "yalla bye" to your friends. The word "yalla" comes from Arabic and doesn't have an exact English equivalent. However, it's a word that Hebrew speakers use often. Essentially, it means "time to go" or "time to move on."
    • This phrase is informal and casual, so it's best used between friends or when talking to people your age or younger.

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