How do I say basic courtesies abroad?

Above all else, do behave and try to make your mother proud.  Whether you realize it or not, you are an ambassador for your country. As the Aussies say, don’t "act like a mongrel, maggot, or a bushpig" in another country. Please try to use common courtesies abroad and who might make a new friend.

Below is a good place to start, but for more info on words in foreign languages simply go to:

English French German Spanish Italian Greek Portuguese
Hello Salut Hallo Hola Salve or Ciao Yasas Ola
Thank You Merci Danke Gracias Gratzie Efcharistó Obrigado/-a
Good Morning/Day Bonjour Guten Morgen Buenos Dias Buongiorno Kalimera Bom Dia
Good Afternoon Bonjour Guten Tag Buenas Tardes Buon pomeriggio Kaló apógevma Boa Tarde
Good evening Bonsoir Guten Abend Buenas Noches Buonasera Kalispera Boa Noite
How are you? Comment ce va? Wie geht es Ihnen? Como esta? Come sta/stai? Pós eísai Como esta?
I’m fine Ca va bien Mir geht es gut Estoy bien Sto bene Eímai kalá Estou bem
Excuse me Excusez-Moi Entschuldigen Sie Bitte Perdone Scusi Sygnomi Desculpe
I’m sorry Desole Verzeihung Lo Siento Sono spiacente Sygnomi Desculpe/Perdao
Please Sil Vous Plait Bitte Por Favor Per Favore Parakalo Por favor/Se Faz Favor
Thank you Merci Danke Gracias Grazie Effaristo Obrigado
Goodbye Au Revoir Auf Weidersehen Adios Arrivederci/Ciao Andio Adeus
Yes Oui Ja Si Si Ne Sim
No Non Nein No No Okhi Nao
How much? Combien? Wie Viel? Cuanto Vale? Quanto Costa? Poso Kani? Quanto custa?
Where is? Ou Est? Wo ist? Donde Esta? Dov’e? Pou eínai? Onde e?
The toilet Les toilettes Die toiletten La toileta Il bagno I toualéta O banho
Toilet Paper Papier igienique Toiletten papier Papel higienico Carta igienica Chartí ygeías Papel higienico
The bill L’addition Die rechnung La cuenta Il conto Ton élencho A conta
The Post Office La Poste Die Post El Correos La Posta To tachydromeío Os Correios
The Police La Police Die Polizei La Policia La Polizia I Astynomía Policia
The Bank La Banque Die Bank El Banco La Banca I trápeza O Banco
The Doctor Un Medecin Der Arzt Un Doctor Un Dottore O Giatrós Um Medico
The Hospital L’Hopital Das Krankenhaus El Hospital L’ospedale To Nosokomeío Hospital
Telephone Telephone Das Telefon El telefono Telefono Tiléfono Telefone
Open Ouvert Geoffnet Abierto Aperto Anoixe Aberto
Closed Ferme Geschlossen Cerrado Chiuso Kleistó Fechado
Water Eau Wasser Agua Acqua Neró Agua


Some language pitfalls to be wary of include:

  • In French, instead of saying “merci boucoup” (pronounced boh-koo), accidentally saying “merci beau cul” (pronounced boh-Q). The first means “thank you very much”, whereas the second means “thank you sexy ass”.
  • In Italy, by ordering a “latte,” you will simply receive a hot milk. Rather, specify a “cafe latte” instead.
  • When ordering or asking for food without any additives or preservatives in Spain or Italy avoid the word ‘preservativo,’ and in France ‘preservatifs’. Both words actually mean condoms.
  • If an Italian should suddently come up to you and solicit you for some “fuoco,” he is not being cheeky, fresh, or asking you for a shag (unfortunately for some I realize). He is simply asking you for your lighter.
  • Andrea is actually a guy’s name in Italian and considered masculine.