To say “hello” to someone, you use the phrase Guten Tag (GOO-ten TUCK). For example, when saying hello to Andreas, you would say, “Guten Tag, Andreas.” Guten Tag literally means “good day.” You have probably heard this common German greeting before. But it's typically used to greet someone only during the afternoon. At other times of the day you have to say something else.
Even when encountering a group of people, a German will shake the hand of every person in that group—usually even the children. He or she will say, “Guten Tag, Ilse,” and shake her hand. And so on with Hans, Andreas, Maria, Professor Klein, and little Sabine.
In the morning you should say Guten Morgen (MAWR-gen), which means “good morning.” In the afternoon you say Guten Tag. In the evening use Guten Abend (AH-bent), which means “good evening.” And late at night you say Gute Nacht (NAHCHT), or “good night,” which, just as in English, is a way of saying “goodbye” but also means “good night” when you are going to bed.
Did you know that Germans shake hands when they greet someone or say good-bye to someone? You may think that sounds just like what Americans do, and to some extent that's true. But Germans consider it almost a rule.