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?
Allow me to tackle these questions for you head-on. These are the perfect go-to greetings because they are short and super easy to say!
Here’s an overview of the things we are going to learn. Let’s dive in.
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How do you say “Hello” in Finnish?
Say “Hei”. It’s pronounced exactly like the English word “hay”. There’s no situation where this greeting word would not work.
Other Common Finnish Greetings That Mean “Hello”
(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.
Psst… Come say “moi” to me on Instagram and add more Finland to your life instantly!
How do you say “Good morning” in Finnish?
Good morning in Finnish is “Hyvää huomenta”. It’s 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”.
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 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 these 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 an evening” in English. That sounds quite silly when translated.
Anyway, these phrases are used particularly in service situations in Finland. After 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!
The Most Versatile Greeting Word in Finnish
(In Finnish: monipuolisin tervehdyssana suomeksi)
So what is the most versatile greeting word in Finnish?
In my opinion, the most versatile Finnish greeting word is Hei. Say it once when you arrive at 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 50 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 are also non-verbal things to consider. Nodding your head or shaking hands are both appropriate ways to say hello 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.
How to Get to Know the Finn You’re Talking to More? 15 Helpful Questions
Sometimes it’s really difficult to jumpstart a conversation with a Finn after the greeting part is over.
That’s why I made you a fun list of 15 dig-a-little-deeper questions that can fill up Finnish silence nicely. These are fun questions to ask in an informal situation.
I wanted to create questions that aren’t too difficult to answer and that help you get to know the Finn you’re talking to more. You’ll find the question first in English and then in spoken Finnish.
1. What’s your favorite public holiday in Finland? Mikä on sun lempijuhlapyhä?
2. Would you prefer to live in the country or in the city? Tykkäisitkö asua mielummin maalla vai kaupungissa?
3. What’s your favorite month? Mikä on sun lempikuukausi?
4. Do you prefer lakes or the sea? Tykkäätkö enemmän järvistä vai merestä?
5. What was your favorite book as a child? Mikä oli lapsena sun lempikirja?
6. Who is your favorite Moomin character? Kuka on sun lempimuumihahmo?
7. What’s your favorite chocolate candy? Mikä on sun lempisuklaa?
8. After buttering a bread slice, do you put ham or cheese next on top of the bread? (a Finnish version of the cereal or milk first debate) Laitatko voileivällä juuston kinkun päälle vai toistepäin?
9. How do you drink your coffee? Mitä otat sun kahviin?
10. What’s your favorite scent? Mikä on sun lempituoksu?
11. What’s your favorite season? Mikä on sun lempivuodenaika?
12. Have you ever seen the northern lights? Ootko koskaan nähnyt revontulia?
13. Do you like ice swimming? Tykkäätkö käydä avannossa?
14. Who is your favorite Finnish athlete or celebrity? Kuka on sun suomalainen lempiurheilija tai -julkkis?
15. Do you prefer to go to a wood-burning or to smoke sauna? Tykkäätkö enemmän puu- vai savusaunasta?
The Tutorial Video for Pronouncing Finnish Greetings
How to pronounce the most popular 15 Finnish greeting words? Practice with my quick pronunciation video below.
Once you’re confident in simply saying “hello” in Finnish, the next step is to strengthen your conversation skills.