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Cześć and Other Ways to Say “Hello” in Polish

by Weronika Jurkiewicz
Casual Polish greetings

“How to say ‘hello’ in your language?” is a common question among the polyglot community. People usually breeze happily through Spanish hola, French salut, or Italian ciao. But when the time comes for Polish cześć, their eyes widen and discomfort appears on their faces. This sneaky little word is oftentimes the first and … last attempt to start learning Polish, the language of the wind as my Mexican friend once called it due to its cz /tʂ/, sz /ʂ/, ć /tɕ/ sounds. Granted, the word may look and sound intimidating, at least at first, but once you spend some time understanding the pronunciation rules, you will see that there is nothing to fear. In the meantime, it might be useful to note that cześć is not the only way Polish people greet each other. So, don’t give up on your Polish just yet and check out some other ways to start a conversation with Poles. 

Formal Polish Greetings 

Unlike in English, the division between the formal and casual register in Polish is quite prominent. When talking to elders, strangers, or business acquaintances always address them by Pan/Pani (Sir/Madam) and use the following greetings: 

Dzień dobry (Good morning)

Dobry wieczór (Good evening) 

Witam (Welcome) 

Miło mi Panią/Pana poznać. (Nice to meet you, Madam/Sir.) 

Miło Panią/Pana widzieć. (Nice to see you, Madam/Sir.)

When it comes to goodbyes, do widzenia is the most formal, but also the most common option. If you discussed meeting each other again in a somehow near and identifiable future, you may go for do zobaczenia which is a formal equivalent of “see you later.” If the conversation was taking place over the phone and you plan on calling each other again, choose do usłyszenia instead which loosely translates to “hear you again.” 

Casual Polish Greetings 

Among friends and young people the formalities don’t apply, so here’s a list of greetings to use instead: 

Cześć = Hi / Bye 

Hej = Hi 

Miło Cię widzieć = Nice to see you

Pa pa = Bye bye 

Na razie = See you later 

Do jutra = See you tomorrow 

Trzymaj się / Trzymajcie się = Take care singular / plural 

Slang Polish Greetings 

Once you have a better feel for the Polish language, you may want to experiment with some slang greetings. Depending on the situation and your group of friends, those might be looked down upon and most likely will make your friends to laugh, so make sure you know your crowd before: 

Siema = Hi

Elo = Yo

Serwus = Hi (old fashioned) 

Czołem = Hi (military greeting) 

Nara + (Bye (short form of na razie) 

Polish Body Language 

When talking about greetings, it’s important not to forget the non-verbal ways of communication. When you are meeting someone for the first time or are in the business context, go for a firm handshake. If you are invited to a big family gathering, prepare to receive three kisses. Among friends, one kiss on the right cheek is the most common, while men tend to stick to handshakes regardless of the circumstances. Poles are generally not big huggers, so leave the full embrace for your closest friends. 

Now that you are familiar with various forms of greeting, it might be a good time to prepare for your first domówka (house party) by checking our guide to the Polish party etiquette. If learning new vocabulary from the comfort of your own couch is more your thing, here is a list of familiar-looking Polish words whose translations differ from their English lookalikes. 

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