How to Say “Hello” in Serbian

Friends say hello to each other
Coffee shops, restaurants, and nightclubs are always full in Serbia. So much so that partying and chatting over a cup of coffee almost became a national brand. Tourists flock to Serbia for the good nightlife, good food and coffee, and approachable people.
 
Since we are such social butterflies in Serbia, we use many different phrases to say hello to each other. From a very formal, professional greeting to a laid-back and cool way to say hi to your friends. 

1. Most Common Hello in Serbian

 Most frequent greetings are ćao and zdravo. They are used to greet the people we know well, like friends and family. The word ćao comes from the Italian ciao, and we use it to say both hello and goodbye in Serbian. Young people also say ćaos instead of ćao

You will also sometimes hear that people use vozdra as a greeting in Serbian. This word is made up by reversing the order of syllabi in the word zdravo. Zdra-vo becomes vo-zdra. This manner of inverting syllabi to create slang words is called šatrovačkiVozdra is very informal, but if you want to really impress and entertain your Serbian friends, use vozdra to say both hello and goodbye in Serbian! 

2. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening

 We say dobro jutro in the morning, dobar dan in the afternoon, and dobro veče in the evening. The word dobar means “good” and it changes the form in these expressions depending on the gender of the noun (you can find out more about gender of nouns in the worksheet that you can download at the end of this post. 🙂) These expressions are neutral ways to say hello in Serbian. You only need to think about what time of day it is when you use them.
 
Here they are, again: 
 
  • dobro jutro = good morning
  • dobar dan= good afternoon
  • dobro veče= good evening
Two friends greet each other with fists to say hello
Ćao, šta ima?

3. What's up?

 Šta ima?” (= What’s up?) is a good conversation starter and an informal way to say hello in Serbian. Do not use it with your boss or neighbour you don’t know well. 🙂 We often use it together with zdravo and ćao, as part of one greeting. When we meet friends, we say: “Ćao, šta ima?”.

4. Where are you?

I know it sounds strange but we also use Gde si? (= “Where are you?”) as a greeting when we see someone.  Just like “What’s up?” it is a casual way to say hello in Serbian, and you should use it only with friends or family. There is also a shorter version of this greeting, even more informal, where we omit the first letter and say “‘De si?”.

5. And Yet Another Way to Say Hello in Serbian

Pozdrav (= literal translation is “greeting”) is a bit less common way to say hello in Serbian. It is used in writing more than in conversations. For example, people can start an email by saying: “Pozdrav, zovem se Mina i pišem vam zbog....” (=Hello, my name is Mina and I am writing with regards to….). We also use pozdrav to end an email/message. In this context, it means “bye”. For example: “Čujemo se sutra! Pozdrav!” (= Talk to you tomorrow! Bye!). You should use it in informal emails only. 

 

If you like this review of the most common ways to say hello in Serbian, then download the free worksheet we prepared for youThe worksheet has examples and exercises. Exercises contain the key, so you can check them on your own once you are doneTo download the worksheet, click on the download link here:

 

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