"Hello!" in Finnish

Hey friends!

A Finnish postcrosser brought to our attention that the current Finnish greeting on the website (Terve!) is a bit awkward to see there in writing… and that “Hei” would be a more neutral all-purpose greeting that works both written and spoken.

How do Finnish postcrossers feel about this? Do you agree? Does “Terve” also feel a little off to you, perhaps? :thinking:

Just trying to get a general feeling about it, since it’s hard for us to judge these greetings in a foreign language. Thank you for your feedback!

Ok, I think since we can only have one single greeting for each language right now, I’ll make a poll and you can vote for the one you think would be best:

  • Hei
  • Moi
  • Terve
0 voters

Let’s run it until the end of the month, and we’ll see! :slight_smile:


“Hei” is neutral and the most-used Finnish greeting to anybody, the best of the options.
“Moi” is useful too. The younger people use it as well as hei.
But “terve” - on my living area - used when two old friends, men, meet each other in a pub. Leave it, please.


There was a survey last year on the geographics of greeting words.

How do you formally greet a cashier at the grocery store:

How do you greet a friend:

Joku muu stands for something else.

As I am originally from South-Eastern Finland (moi, moikka area) it really did took some time to customize and get used to hearing and saying terve everywhere. A massive change, but as for me, all the awkwardness is gone☺️ I would like to have terve remaining!


This is fun coinsidence, I have recently written postcards where I start “Terve” and tell how that is the way I often greet people, especially when I don’t know the person well, like my nearbos, and it’s polite for all ages.

Some think “terve” is religious, but laestadians say “Jumalan terve”, in card or letter it can be only JT.

Just “terve” is really good, and useful too, if one travels, terve or hei are both good options. Moi can bee taken as too spoken language in some parts of Finland.

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I have also thought why Terve is used in postcrossing. Actually I did not know that it is so common in Finland like that survey shows. But I use Hei and Moi much more often and would prefer Hei in postcrossing. Everybody understands that and it does not mean anything else than hello/hi.


I’d like ‘terve’ remain. It’s how I usually greet people. :grin:

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When you look at those greeting area maps, notice that the biggest part of population is living in the Southern part of Finland (in the yellow area). There are the four biggest cities of our country.

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Oulu is the fifth biggest city, located about half way of Finland, on the west side.


I originate from “moi”-area and I have to admit that I have been living in Sweden so long I tend to use “hei” even when speaking Finnish, so “terve” feels somewhat overly polite for me. Like it is the word I would use when meeting somebody I am not yet too familiar with.

However, I think the awkwardness of using “terve” in this Postcrossing context is that it is the kind of greeting you expect to start a discussion. So when you only see it as a lone word without any continuation following right after, it feels out of space. In spoken language it wouldn’t matter because the physical meeting itself is a continuation for the interaction started with the greeting and there might no be need for more words. I would say that in this context “hei” or even “moi” would be more neutral as they don’t carry the same “conversation must happen” weight (which why “hei” is commonly used when greeting cashiers), but it is not wrong to use “terve” either. I would have picked “hei” or “moi”, if it was me who made the decision, but I am not passionate enough about this to care if it stays as “terve” :slight_smile:


”Terve” feels more unique than ”hei” that could be from anywhere.

I’m all over the place myself, I can say terve, moi, moi moi, moro, morjens or päivää to just about anyone. :smile: ”Hei” mostly on written messages.


Mmm… quite a few different opinions here! Thank you for taking the time to explain your views.

Turns out, until that code is changed, we can only have one greeting for each language… so I made a poll on the first post of this topic, to help us decide which way to go. If you could go back to the top and vote, I’d appreciate it! :pray:


Interesting, I never knew this sort of expectation for conversations with this word. I can say “terve” when only walking past a person, or seeing someone in the crowd. If I in such situation said hei, it would feel like “hey, I need to talk to you”/“hey, come here”/“stop”.

(Now when I think this, I’m sure to say something weird in the next greeting situation :smile: )

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Just walking past or seeing someone in the crowd counts as a social interaction so long the other person responds in some way. If you say “terve” in such situation, you are probably expecting them to react to it in someway? I probably used the wrong word, but I meant it is expected to receive an answer when using this greeting so it might feel weird to see it in text when the text does not continue further. However, the most fascinating thing with languages is that they are constantly developing and the use of them depends a lot in context and discourse they are used in, so it is completely possible that people feel differently about specific words.

These looks like perfect examples of situation where greeting words are used for catching attention instead of purely greeting another person. I could argue that this is actually one of the reasons why “hey”/“moi” would be more neutral option, because using them as lone word gives them a purpose as attention catching instead of only greeting. Whereas “terve” would possibly not work as an attention catcher and therefore a lone “terve” without continuing interaction does not, technically, carry a purpose.

It is very fascinating thought actually and I am quite sad I don’t have time to go deeper in to it, but I will keep this in mind in case I get a chance to discuss it at Uni at some point. Sadly I couldn’t find any research about this, but let’s hope the survey from last year will result in interesting studies to read!

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If they see me, yes. Like a hand wave is enough, or a smile. It has not more expectation for an answer, than any other greeting word.

I really don’t understand at all what you mean with this. I’m confused. Is not card message enough interaction? Doesn’t any greeting word then not wait similar continuing for interaction.

If it’s “Terve!” on this page, it’s same style as “Moikka!” in my language understanding and usage. Same purpose.

All in all, good thing is, many greetings are perfectly ok.

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How about in the beginning of your card or letter or email? What’s your greeting on paper?
I write always and only Hei!

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(Edit. Maybe you meant like post greeting/supplementary greeting -type thing? If so, then no, terve does not need anything such following.) /Edit. How did my edit come like this :thinking:

@kotona I can start my letter or card Terve!, Terve Name, or Hei Name! Heissan! Many ways.

There are a lot of Postcrossers who are not on Forum at all. There are also Forum members who are not very active here. Now this question is asked about Forum members only and most likely the active ones are
answering while those who are only on official site are left out of whole conversation. I could think that many older Postcrossers would vote for “Terve!”.


It’s okay! I guess I am looking at it too much from linguistic point of view. Sadly I don’t have time to explain it more, but if you are interested on learning more I can warmly recommend Jyväskylä university. I have attended few courses with teachers from there and they are amazing with explaining the language context and discourses!

So basically it was always ”terve”, but then one person said it’s not good, and here we are. I say keep it as it was.


I have studied there and in another universities as well, it’s not a strange subject to me. Maybe that’s why I’m curious what would it need there. (If “Terve” alone looks like not ok, what else would it need there?)

( Perhaps it’s only different dialect area -thing?
Like for many in North, the old “only correct way” to use alkaa + verb, in reality it sounded like non Finnish speaking :slight_smile: and to some in Eastern/South, the now allowed version was “bad language”, so bad that they threatened to move away from Finland if such is allowed :smile: .)

But about this topic, if “Terve” is polite, I think it’s better then than “Moi”, that can be unpolite to write if you don’t know the age or way they like to be greeted. (Even when I know “moi” is normal, if someone writes me “moi, greetings from USA”, I still feel little, mmmhh, like I would write normalish polite card and start “Yo!” :grin: