In short – the best (and easiest) response to ‘buenos días‘ is a simple ‘buenos días‘ in return! ‘Hola, buenos días‘, ‘buen día‘, ‘igualmente‘ and ‘como está‘ are also excellent responses!
One of the phrases you´re going to hear all the time when in a Spanish speaking country is ‘buenos días‘.
Whether you´re exploring the colonial cities of Mexico, the beautiful beaches of Spain or the lush rainforest of Equatorial Guinea, you´re going to be greeted with a ‘buenos días‘ in the morning (and probably multiple times!)
But what exactly does ‘buenos días‘ mean? And how (the heck!) should you respond?
Well, fret no more, in this article I´m going to tell you 10 ways to respond to ‘buenos días‘ (yes, 10!!) AND sound more like a local in the process!
‘Buenos días‘ meaning
So, what exactly does ‘buenos días‘ mean?
Well, it literally means ‘good day‘; in Spanish ‘bueno‘ translates to ‘good‘ and ‘día‘ means ‘day‘. The English equivalent is ‘good morning‘.
Interestingly, Spanish is the only romance language in which the traditional morning greeting is in plural – ´buenoS díaS´.
In English (which, by the way, is a Germanic language, NOT a romance language), we don´t say ‘goods mornings‘. In fact, the more I think about it, the stranger it sounds!
Academics at the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language believe that ‘buenos días‘ evolved from the longer phrase ‘buenos días os dé Dios‘ (literally ‘God gives you good days‘) which obviously refers to more than one day.
Anyway, know we know exactly what ‘buenos días’ means, let´s get into how to respond!!
1 Buenos días
The easiest (and perhaps most common) way to respond to ‘buenos días‘ is by repeating the very same phrase back to the speaker!
The beauty of ‘buenos días‘ is that it can be used in almost every situation and with absolutely everyone. Think greeting your boyfriend / girlfriend´s dad for the first time to grunting your morning salutation at your best mate after a night on the tiles.
For sure this is the best option if you´re feeling shaky on your Spanish feet and can´t conjure up any of the alternatives on this list in the heat of the moment.
2 Hola, buenos días
This is another extremely common response to ‘buenos días‘ and it´s just as simple to formulate as the first response on this list. All you need to do is whack an ‘hola‘ in front of ‘buenos días‘ and you´re good to go!
Literally, this one means ‘Hello, good morning‘, which sounds a little odd in English, but I promise that it sounds natural as anything in Spanish!
3 Buen día
‘Buen día‘ is an interesting one because it´s actually more common in Latin America than it is in Spain! In Mexico City it´s just as common as ‘buenos días‘, but it´s hardly used at all in Madrid!
It´s thought that the influence of the English ‘good morning‘ led to this phrase´s proliferation in Latin America.
It literally means ‘good day‘ which, somewhat ironically, is now rarely used in spoken English as a standalone phrase!
Erika´s top tip – both ‘buenos días‘ and ‘buen día‘ can also be used as a way of saying goodbye to someone. This use is common to all Spanish speaking countries and you´ll often hear ‘Qué tengas (un) buen día‘ when leaving shops, etc.
Vendedor – ¡Muchas gracias! Que tengas muy buen día.
Cliente – ¡Igualmente! (we´ll get onto this one later)
Shop assistant – Thanks a lot! Have a lovely day.
Customer – You too!
This is another one that is more country dependent. I remember that when I lived in Barcelona, all but one of my many neighbors would respond to my ‘buenos días‘ with a simple (yet effective) ‘buenas‘.
Here in Mexico, it´s not as common, but I still hear it from time to time!
Just watch out for the rather vulgar ‘albur‘ (Mexican double entendre), ‘las tengas’, which I´ve also heard from time to time!
‘Buenas‘ is an abbreviation of ‘buenos días‘ and can be roughly translated to ‘morning‘.
Jorge – ¡Buenos días!
Guillermo – ¡Buenas!
George – Good morning!
William – Morning!
5 Bonito día
‘Bonito día‘ translates to ‘beautiful day‘, and it´s a more “cutesy” response to ‘buenos días‘ and also a nice alternative to ‘buen día‘. Erika uses this one all the time!
Taxista – ¡Buenos días, señorita! ¿A dónde te llevo?
Erika – Bonito día, señor.
Taxi driver – Good Morning! Where to?
Erika – A lovely morning to you too!
Erika´s top tip – ‘lindo día‘ can be used as an alternative to ‘bonito día‘, they´re synonyms and 100% interchangeable.
Both can also be used to say goodbye, too!
¡Qué tengas bonito / lindo día!
Have a lovely day!
You probably already know that ‘hola‘ means ‘hello‘, but did you know that it´s also an acceptable response to ‘buenos días‘ (and just about any other greeting)?
It´s a little more informal than ‘buenos días‘, to just about the same extent that ‘hi‘ or ‘hello‘ is more informal than ‘good morning‘.
If in doubt, you can´t really go wrong with a simple ‘hola‘!
7 (Y a usted) igualmente
You can use this little gem of a word as you can ‘you too‘ in English. It´s a perfectly acceptable response to ‘buenos días‘, even if not the most common!
Vecino 1 – ¡Buenos días, vecino!
Vecino 2 – ¡Igualmente!
Neighbor 1 – Good Morning, neighbor!
Neighbor 2 – Good morning to you too!
‘Igualmente‘ can also be used with ‘y a usted‘, which literally means ‘and to you too‘!
Vecino 1 – ¡Buenos días!
Vecino 2 – ¡Ya a usted igualmente!
Erika´s top tip – ‘igualmente‘ is a seriously useful tool to have in your Spanish artillery box! It can be used to respond to most platitudes (‘gracias‘, ‘buenos días‘, ‘que tengas buen día‘, etc.) and is sure to make you sound more like a native!
Vendedor de churros – ¡Muchas gracias! ¡Qué tengas muy buen día!
Cliente – ¡Igualmente!
Churros seller – Thank you very much! Have a good day!
Customer – You too!
8 ¿Como está?
Another great way to respond to ‘buenos días‘ is with a simple ‘como está‘, or ‘how are you‘!
‘¿Como está?’ is the politest way to ask someone how they are as it is in the ‘usted‘ form, which is basically a more respectful way to say ‘you‘. As such, it´s the perfect way to respond to the more formal ‘buenos días‘!
Maestro – ¡Buenos días!
Alumno – ¿Como está, señor?
Teacher – Good morning!
Student – How are you today, sir?
Be aware that ‘usted‘ is more commonly used in Latin America than it is in Spain (although the Spanish do use it in some situations)!
9 ¿Hola, qué tal?
‘¿Qué tal?’ is basically a more informal way of saying ‘how are you‘. It´s super common amongst friends and people who already know one another, but should be given a wide berth in more formal situations!
You can pair ‘que tal‘ with a simple ‘hola‘ to form a short, punchy response to ‘buenos días‘ (and many other greetings)! Just make sure not to use this one in that job interview!
Erika´s note – if you want to know how to respond to ‘qué tal‘ (you´ve gotta get those responses down!), be sure to check out our magnum opus on the subject!
10 ¡Qué onda!
This is by far the most informal response on this list. ‘Qué onda‘ is actually Mexican slang and it´s the equivalent of the English ‘what´s up‘.
‘Qué onda‘ should only be used to respond to ‘buenos días‘ if you know the person really well! It´s not to be used to greet your teacher, colleague, boss, etc.!
Erika wasn´t that keen for me to include ‘qué onda‘ on this list as ‘buenos días‘ is intrinsically formal and normally requires a formal / fairly formal response, but there are definitely some situations in which it could be used!
Juan Carlos – Buenos días, wey.
Eduardo – ¡Qué onda!
Juan Carlos – Morning, dude!
Eduardo – What´s up!
‘Buenos días, mi amor‘, response
If a Spanish speaker is calling you ‘amor‘, it generally means that you´re in a relationship (or, at the very least, that you´ve been on a few dates!).
As such, feel free to respond with anything on the above list, with the exception of ‘como está‘, which is wayyy too formal for lovers (unless, perhaps, used in jest!)
‘Buenos días‘ or ‘buenas días‘
I just wanted to write a quick note about ‘buenos días‘ vs ‘buenas días‘ as this is a mistake made by a lot of beginners!
In short – ‘buenas días’ is grammatically incorrect, it´s a common mistake made by learners of Spanish because it sounds similar to ‘buenos días‘ and the two are easy to confuse.
This is because the adjective ‘buenos‘ has to agree in both gender and number with the noun ‘días‘.
‘Días‘ is both plural and masculine, so ‘buenOS‘ has to be both plural and masculine too!
And there we have it, a pretty-darn extensive list of ways to respond to ‘buenos días‘ (if you ask me!).
I´m sure you´ll know now exactly what to reply in almost every situation. Go forth and surprise / delight your Spanish speaking friends with your new-found knowledge!