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How To Say Hello In Danish

Let’s quickly introduce you to the most important Danish greetings. Here you’ll learn to say hello in Danish — whether to colleagues or friends, from sun up to sun down.
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How To Say Hello In Danish

Are you wondering how to say hello in Danish? It would make sense — greetings are the first bit of vocabulary you learn in a language because they’re vital for connecting with people! A friendly “hello” or “good morning” is the necessary start to any good conversation. Luckily for those of you planning to visit Denmark, it’s pretty easy to learn how to say hello in Danish.

Let’s dive right in!

The Simplest Danish Greeting: Hej!

With hej, you’re always on the safe side in Denmark. Pronounced just like “hi” in English, this is the simplest and most common way to greet someone in Danish. Perhaps the Queen and the royal family would be offended if you used this greeting, but then again, how often do you meet a member of the royal family? Some alternatives include the more informal halløj or halløjsa, which is a goofier, “diminutive” way of saying hello in Danish. (We don’t have diminutives in English, but they basically make words sound smaller and cuter. Just trust us — they’re adorable). Another colloquial way would be the casual nå, hva ‘så?, something like “Hey, what’s up?” in English. If you already know some German, then the Danish is pretty similar to the elusive na. But be careful when using this expression: In some cases, it might be a bit too informal, even for the average Dane.

How Can I Be More Formal In Danish?

In more formal settings and with people you don’t know as well, you can always use the classic goddag (good day). And there are plenty of variations on this. Especially in Jütland, people use the more informal short forms of dag (day), dav and davs, pronounced like [dow] in “down.” For an even more formal greeting, one would use pæn goddag, meaning “Good day to you” (but literally meaning “Neat, good day”). From what I’ve observed, it’s used as a somewhat ironic greeting among young people, but a genuinely warm one among older generations.

What’s Up, Your Majesty?

What about the gestures Danes use to greet each other? As in most English-speaking countries, you can get by with a hej and a smile in a supermarket or café, while in a job interview or when meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, you should shake hands. Depending on the situation, either hej or goddag should do the trick. Among friends, normally there’s a hug involved — but that always depends on the person you’re greeting. Now let’s say you do have the opportunity to meet the Queen: A normal handshake wouldn’t suffice, and a hug would be totally inappropriate. In this case, you should bow and say goddag Deres Majestæt (“Good day, Your Majesty”).

Greeting in Danish, Any Time Of The Day

Depending on the time of day, you can also use other alternatives. Between getting up and having lunch, it’s more common to be greeted with a godmorgen (good morning) instead of a hej. Godmorgen is a little more personal than the neutral hej and is probably more appropriate for situations like greeting your children or your colleagues at the office. On the other hand, its evening counterpart, godaften (good evening), has a formal undertone and is used by waiters in a restaurant, older generations or at events with large audiences, just to name a few examples.

Although Denmark is a relatively small country, there are plenty of regional differences — even in the language. In the south of Denmark, more precisely in Sønderjylland on the German border, it’s quite common to greet with mojn, much like the German moin.

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