Oh, I’ve had a spectacular weekend! Hubby and I enjoyed a relaxing lake view hotel staycation just by the two of us. Bliss!

Amid the lovely service, I couldn’t help but notice how many different Finnish greeting words there are! Hence, I try to cover this topic with this post.

Common Finnish Greetings

(In Finnish: Yleisiä suomalaisia tervehdyksiä)

  • Hei
  • Heips
  • Heippa
  • Moi
  • Moikka
  • Moro
  • Terve

All words above mean “Hi”.

We 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. 

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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. 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 (byebye)
  • Moikka (byebye)
  • Hyvää päivänjatkoa (have a nice day)
  • Hyvää illanjatkoa (have a nice evening)

Heihei is a neutral way of saying goodbye in Finnish. Moimoi and Moikka are more casual.
Hyvää päivänjatkoa and Hyvää illanjatkoa are popular phrases.

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!

It’s good to know that these phrases are used particularly in service situations. After a lovely 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 them with a close friend or family member. 

Finnish greetings offer easy access into the Finnish culture! Here are 15 common expressions in Finnish.

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. Easy and simple.

Hei and heihei suit all ages and are neutral in any formal or informal setting. The pronunciation is easy to remember because of it’s said exactly like the word hay in English.

You really can’t go wrong with Hei!

The Tutorial Video for Pronouncing Finnish Greetings

How to pronounce these 15 Finnish greeting words? Check my quick video!

Finnish Greeting Habits

(In Finnish: Suomalaisia tervehdystapoja

Note that for a Finn, asking ‘How are you?’ isn’t a greeting. It’s already a conversation topic. So, if you can, avoid the phrase “Hello how are you”. It usually gets us pretty confused.

Besides the words, there’s also non-verbal things to consider. Nodding your head or shaking hands are both appropriate ways to greet.

I always offer my hand for a shake to avoid awkward situations when I say Hei. In Finland, only friends and family hug each other. Kissing is for sweethearts.

In business life, say your preferred greeting word, your 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.

Don’t worry if there’s no smooth transition into little small talk after shaking hands. Being silent together is normal in the Finnish culture, also in the business world.  

Finnish greetings include Hei, Moi, Terve and 12 other expressions!

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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:

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Finnish greetings are the easy way to learn a bit of Finnish! Here are 15 Finnish greetings and how to use them! #finnish

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I’m Varpu. One blonde,
Finnish engineer driving this site.