More than “10 Ways to Say Hello in Serbian”
All the ways to greet people in Serbian, but not only: updated with commentary and insight written 3 years after publishing the video.
As I’m writing this, it’s been more than 3 years since we made and published this video about different ways to say hello in Serbian language. And it still brings many people to this website.
Those first videos were such a great idea, and so much fun to make, and… It was surprisingly exhausting.
Because I’m a teacher, not a YouTuber!
But I think the concept was kind of good, but I appreciate more really instructive videos (by the way, if you really want to learn Serbian, start with Serbonika’s free Introductory course and see where it takes you) or videos in Serbian easy for you to understand. These are what we’ll focus on next.
However, coming back to the topic of the How to say hello in Serbian video, it has brought me a couple of valuable insights:
- There are lots of idle kids on YouTube, and
- I’m getting old!
New insights about saying hello in Serbian
Seriously, some comments people left made me realize new things about how we say hello in Serbian:
1.Shortened greetings that I mentioned in the video (‘bro jutro, ‘bar dan and ‘bro veče) are something my grandmother, and sometimes my father used to say. It’s almost vanished!
2. „Pozdrav“ actually became much more common in the last 10 years. It sneaked into our spoken language from the written form, and now it is actually quite common – especially among the young.
3. Some kids mentioned „eee!“ – but it’s not a greeting, I don’t give them that. It’s only an interjection, like “hej”.
4. If you have very patriotic friends, they will want you to know one more greeting: „Pomoz’ bog“ or „Pomaže bog“ (meaning “May God help you”). But it’s very, very old and its usage nowadays can only be intentional and not spontaneous.
Saying hello in Serbian – basics first!
If you’ve just started learning Serbian, you should first take a look at this newer video, now included in Serbonika, to learn basic Serbian greetings and expressions, and then continue with the old video for more advanced and fun greetings.
Now that you’ve learned the basic Serbian greetings, you’re ready to go beyond the common “Dobar dan” and “Zdravo”.
10 different ways to say Hello in Serbian
How do you greet people in Serbia? How should you answer to their greetings? What should you say if you meet someone twice in one day?
Today I’ll teach you 10 ways to say hello in Serbian. In this video I give you all the greetings we use in Serbia and explain when to use which. You can watch the video, or simply scroll down and read the notes below, with new commentary.
When to use each greeting?
Let’s start with the greetings I’m sure you already know. Dobro jutro, dobar dan, dobro veče.
You know what they mean: dobro jutro (good morning), dobar dan (good day or good afternoon), dobro veče (good evening).
But do you know exactly when to say which?
- Dobro jutro – is a greeting we say when we wake up and until about 10 or 11 AM. Do not say „Dobro jutro“ late, because if you say it late, we’ll know that you woke up late.
Attention, this is not only a formal greeting. These are the most frequently used words to say hello in Serbian every morning, even to our family.
- Dobar dan – After about 10 or 11 o’clock, you can start saying „dobar dan“, in formal situations and use this greeting throughout the day, until dark.
These two words mean “good day”, and are the most direct answer to the question how we say hello in Serbian.
- Dobro veče – When do we start using „Dobro veče“? Well, it depends on the season, because once when it starts getting dark, you can safely start saying „Dobro veče“. So, in winter it will be about 5 or 6 pm, and in summer it will be after 7 or 8 pm.
These three greetings are sometimes shortened, so you can also hear:
‘bro jutro, ‘bar dan, ‘bar veče or ‘bro veče.
The three greetings are formal, and „Dobro jutro“ is both formal and informal, so we use it every day in our family: „Dobro jutro!“ after waking up.
Informal Serbian greetings
Serbian informal greeting is Zdravo! It actually means „healthy“, so you’re wishing someone good health when you say it.
We also use Ćao! which borrowed from italian (ciao), like in many languages.
You can even double those: „Zdravo zdravo!“ „Ćao ćao!“, and we usually do that with acquaintances. We just acknowledge them in the street, to whom we do not intend to say anything more than a simple greeting.
Pozdrav! This is a greeting that actually means ‘a greeting’, „Pozdrav“. It’s usually used by men, mostly in writing, in emails, chats or messages. Often written as „poz“ or „pozzzz“ for an extra emphasis. However, some people also say it, especially to a group:
- Pozdrav svima! (hello, everybody)
- Pozdrav, ljudi! (hello, people).
In the video I said: “And, again, it’s mostly men who use it.” It turns out, I was wrong. I believe it’s one of the newest ways to say hello in Serbian. It became widespread in the last 5 to 10 years, and it can be used by anyone: in spoken Serbian, in emails and text messages.
The most popular Serbian greeting
It’s just one simple question used as a greeting among friends and family: „De si!“ If we translate it literally, it means „where are you”. However, if we want to ask someone where they are, we will use the full form: „Gde si?“, the full word „gde“. And, on the other hand, if we want to say a greeting (like: where are you, I’m so happy to see you, where have you been for so long), then we will say „de si“, without the initial sound „g“: „de si“ or „di si ti“.
We can say „de“ or „di“.
In some regions, like Montenegro and Bosnia, you will also hear „đe si!“, „đe“.
This greeting is often combined with „ti“, or „de ste vi“, or with „bre“, or with personal names or nicknames.
So, we’ll get: „De si ti!“ „De si bre!“ „De si bre ti!“ „De si bre ti, Marija!“
This simple question-greeting implies that you haven’t seen someone for a while, that you’ve missed them and that you’re happy to see them again. I will say it to a friend I haven’t seen for a few days or weeks, but I will also say it to my son after his nap. It is very used and very widespread.
Advanced Serbian greetings
Now, I’m gonna give you an extra insider tip: If you meet someone again the same day, do not repeat the same greeting! If you say „dobar dan“ and after a few hours „dobar dan“ again to me, I would think „Wow, this person doesn’t even remember that we’ve already met today.“ You can say something like „O, opet ti!“ (oh, it’s you again) which is quite informal. Obviously, you will say „o, opet vi“ if you’re addressing to more than one person, or even if you’re addressing formally to someone.
If you’re entering a store or a post office again, you can say „izvinite, opet ja“ (excuse me, it’s me again). You can also be formal with „Dobar dan / Dobro veče još jednom“ (Good day/evening once again).
And the last greeting (and my personal favorite way to say hello in Serbian) is „Treći put častiš“. This means: „if we meet for the third time, you’re buying me a drink“. That’s something we’ll always say if we accidentally meet a friend for the second time in the street, and there’s almost a small competition who will say this first: „Ha, treći put častiš“ (Ha, you’re buying me a drink next time that we meet).
However, it doesn’t actually happen that we really do meet for the third time and that we actually have that drink, but it’s a really common thing to say.
Summary: all the ways to say hello in Serbian
And to summarize, let’s list all the ways we say hello in Serbian
- Dobro jutro – ‘bro jutro
- Dobar dan – ‘bar dan
- Dobro veče – ‘bar veče, ‘bro veče
- Zdravo – zdravo svima – zdravo zdravo
- Ćao – ćao ćao
- Pozdrav! Pozdrav svima! Pozdrav, ljudi!
- De si! De ste vi! Di si ti! Di ste!
- Opet ti! Opet vi! Opet ja! Izvinite, opet ja.
- Dobar dan još jednom! Dobro veče još jednom!
- Treći put častiš
A ti? Kako ti pozdravljaš svoje prijatelje? How do you greet your friends?
Now that you know many options for saying hello in Serbian, you’re ready to move on to this page and learn 10 different expressions for saying goodbye in Serbian.
Founder of Serbonika
Serbian language teacher and entrepreneur, language lover and polyglot, but also a mother and a relentless storyteller. Read more about me.
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