Learning about meet and greet in Italian is a fantastic way to improve your vocabulary and start small conversations as a beginning student.
One of the first things to know is that unlike in English where you can be either formal or informal, we use tu (informal) and lei (formal) Tip: Lei also means she, so bear this in mind when talking in Italian.
When talking to a stranger, especially older people, you should use the formal form of address (lei). Generally, it is the older (or in a business context) senior person invites others to use the informal form of address and first names. However, Italians are becoming less formal and younger people often use tu and first names with colleagues.
Lei is also used in conversations with shopkeepers, servants, business associates and figures of authority, or those with whom you have a business relationship.
Some titles we use are Dottore (male) o Dottoressa (female) for people who have a university degree, of any kind but also to talk about medical doctors. The boss at work could be Direttore (Director) or Presidente (President). Professionals should be addressed by their titles such as professor (professore/professoressa), doctor (dottore/dottoressa), engineer (ingegnere), lawyer (avvocato) and architect ( architetto). If you don’t know someone’s title, you can use signore (sir, mister) or signora (madam). The term for a young lady (signorina) is not very used instead using signora is very common even for young women.
If you are in a formal context such as a business event or the first time you meet someone, you should give a firm handshake, looking the other person in the eye and smiling, and then shaking hands again when leaving.
A common greeting is good morning or good evening, according to the time (evening is usually after lunch) and then molto lieto (pleased to meet you) . It’s customary to say buongiorno or buonasera on entering a small shop, waiting room or lift, and arrivederci (goodbye) on leaving.
When meeting friends or relatives people say ciao (hello) and kiss on the cheeks, men can give a pat on the back or a hug instead of kisses to other men. This is just a brush on the upper part of the cheek with a kissing noise.
You should consider that new Coronavirus outbreak has changed these habits as social distancing and avoiding physical contacts is paramount.
Here a useful vocabulary about meet and greet in Italian:
Ciao Hello (informal)
Salve Hi/Bye (formal/informal)
Buongiorno Good morning (formal)
Buon pomeriggio Good afternoon
Buonasera Good evening (formal)
Good night (when going to bed or leaving a house in the evening)
Arrivederci Goodbye (informal)
Arrivederla Goodbye (formal)
A più tardi/ a dopo See you later
A presto See you soon
A domani See you tomorrow
Non capisco I don’t understand
Parla inglese? Do you speak English?
Potrebbe parlare più lentamente, per favore? Could you speak slower, please? (formal)
Come si chiama? (formal)? What’s your name?
Come ti chiami? (informal) What’s your name?
Mi chiamo My name is
Di dove sei? Where are you from?
Sono di I am from
Piacere di conoscerti Nice to meet you
Piacere mio Nice to meet you too
Dove vivi? Where do you live?
Vivo a I live in
Come sta? (formal) How are you?
Come stai? (informal) How are you?
Sto bene grazie, e tu? I’m well, thanks, and you? (informal)
Sto bene, grazie, e Lei? I’m well, thanks, and you? (Forma)
Così così So so
Molto bene, grazie. Very well, thanks.
Abbastanza bene, grazie. Pretty well, thanks.
Non c’è male. Pretty well, thanks.
Non mi posso lamentare I can’t complain
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