When you visit Finland, you are bound to notice that there are a ton of different Finnish greetings! What do they all mean? And how do Finns use them?
This post aims to cover this and more to make you feel comfortable when you are in Finland. Hopefully, I will encourage you to speak a little bit of Finnish too! The greeting words are the perfect way to go as most of them are short and super easy to say!
Here’s an overview of the things we are going to learn! Let’s go!
Table of Contents
Common Finnish Greetings
(In Finnish: Yleisiä suomalaisia tervehdyksiä)
All words above mean “Hi”.
Finns usually greet each other in an informal way, so you can use these conversational greetings in 99% of all situations.
Hei, Moi and Moikka are the most popular ones.
Moi and Moikka are particularly common among younger people and family members. Moro was first used only in Tampere region but now you can hear it all over Finland.
More Formal Finnish Greetings
(In Finnish: Virallisempia suomalaisia tervehdyksiä)
- Tervehdys (Greetings)
- Hyvää huomenta (Good morning)
- Hyvää päivää (Good day)
- Hyvää iltaa (Good evening)
Tervehdys is mostly used in writing and public speaking. For example, a teacher could write a letter for the pupils’ parents with the title Syystervehdys koululta! (Autumn greetings from the school) or a speech could start with the words Tervehdys ystävät (Greetings friends).
Hyvää huomenta is used in both formal and casual settings. It’s a very popular phrase and you’ll most likely hear it a lot in Finland. The short version of this greetings is just Huomenta!
Hyvää päivää and Hyvää iltaa are very formal. A TV news reporter opens up with those phrases. If I ever met the president, I would use one of these three expressions.
Finnish Expressions when You Are Leaving
(In Finnish: Suomalaisia ilmauksia kun olet lähdössä)
- Heihei (Goodbye)
- Moimoi (Bye-bye)
- Moikka (Bye-bye)
- Hyvää päivänjatkoa (Have a nice day, formal)
- Hyvää illanjatkoa (Have a nice evening, formal)
- Kivaa päivää! (Have a nice day, casual)
- Kivaa iltaa! (Have a nice evening, casual)
Heihei is a neutral way of saying goodbye in Finnish. Moimoi and Moikka are more casual.
It is interesting to know that Hyvää päivänjatkoa and Hyvää illanjatkoa are used a bit differently in Finnish than in many other languages.
If I translate them word to word, they would be Good continuation of day and Good continuation of evening in English. That sounds quite silly when translated!
Anyway, these phrases are used particularly in service situations in Finland. After a dinner, your waiter often nods and wishes you Hyvää illanjatkoa. In a shop, the salesperson might say Hyvää päivänjatkoa when you are leaving.
I wouldn’t use these phrases with a friend, colleague or family member because it sounds quite formal. I’d rather say: Kivaa päivää! or Kivaa iltaa!
Hello in Finnish
(In Finnish: Hello suomeksi)
So what is the most versatile greeting word in Finnish?
In my opinion, the best Finnish greeting word is Hei. Say it once when you arrive to any situation and say it twice when you are leaving. Unbelievably simple!
The pronunciation is easy to remember because of it’s said exactly like the word hay in English.
Hei and heihei suit all ages and are neutral in any formal or informal setting. You really can’t go wrong with Hei!
“Hello, How Are You” in Finnish
(In Finnish: “Hello, how are you” suomeksi)
The quickly said sentence “Hello, how are you!” is a common greeting phrase, especially in the US. Say it in Finland and most Finns will be confused.
That’s because, in Finland, “How are you?” is a proper question demanding an answer. Thus, we Finns start thinking about our wellbeing, how we have been and what we should answer. Only the most internationally-savvy Finns will have the prompt answer “Great, how are you!”
So, for a Finn, asking ‘How are you?’ is already a conversation topic, mostly used among friends and family. If you love knowing this sort of cultural differences, be sure to read my post 30 Cultural Things that Help You Understand a Finn. My list is full of funny observations like this one!
Other Finnish Greeting Habits
(In Finnish: Suomalaisia tervehdystapoja)
Besides the words, there’s also non-verbal things to consider. Nodding your head or shaking hands are both appropriate ways to greet in Finland.
I always offer my hand for a shake to avoid awkward situations when I say Hei. In Finland, pretty much only friends and family hug each other. Kissing is for sweethearts.
In business life, say your preferred greeting word, name and shake hands when meeting new people. It doesn’t matter who is the initiator of this procedure, it’s always a good move.
Finally, don’t worry if there’s no smooth transition into small talk after shaking hands. Being silent together is normal in the Finnish culture, also in the business world. If you want to learn more about Finnish small talk, check out my funny and helpful post here.
The Tutorial Video for Pronouncing Finnish Greetings
How to pronounce the most popular 15 Finnish greeting words? Practice with my quick pronunciation video!
Do you have any questions about Finnish greetings? What’s your favorite greeting word in Finnish? Comment below and let me know!
Looking for more information about the Finnish language and culture? Check out some of my other posts:
Warm wishes from Finland,
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