When discovering a new language, we an initial learn just how to greet people since our interactions through others usually begin with a greeting. In texts, emails, top top the phone, and also in-person, we begin with “hello,” i m sorry is common throughout all languages, including Spanish.

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In Spanish, the correct way to greet people is with words hola, whether it be in a official or informal setting, Hola means hello, however the “h” is silent, so we say /ola/. In fact, the word ola in Spanish actually way wave. But that’s no all — if you are learning Portuguese, the exactly expression because that hello is olá.

So, to answer which is correct: hola or ola, really counts on the language you space speaking and also the paper definition in i beg your pardon you want to usage these words. This post will take it a closer look at the expression hola and ola and your uses.

What Is the Difference between Hola and also Ola?

Let’s get ago to our question and understand the difference between hola and also ola.

The an interpretation of Hola in Spanish

Some scholars keep that hola involved the shores the Spain with the Arabic Moors, who populated Spain in 711 and also stayed over there until about 1609. The idea is that it’s a type of the Arab indigenous Allah.

This occupation the Spain is why there room so plenty of Arabic impacts not just in the Spanish language but in the religion, agriculture methods, and also architecture that are still obvious today.

Others believe the Visigothic warriors carried the native hola as soon as they attacked Spain. Lock say that it to be a command for troops come stop.

So, a chieftain would raise his hand and also shout hola! Locals more than likely took this together a greeting instead, and that’s wherein they acquired the word.

Still, these theories remain greatly unproven, therefore the beginning of the Spanish native hola is tho a mystery.

Some linguists believe it is pertained to the german expressions “hello” in English and also “hallo” in German. It seems that over there are likewise links to other European greetings, such as the Old High German halā, holā, or French holà (source).

One thing we space sure that is the hola method “hello” in Spanish through a few other languages that have additionally borrowed this word because that a greeting — this has English. You have the right to actually usage hola come greet world in Asturian, Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, and Ido.

As for spelling, in Spanish, you spell words H-O-L-A without any type of accent marks.

The confusion in between hola and ola come in the together of these words due to the fact that you to speak them specifically the same!

Yes, in Spanish, the “h” is constantly silent. But just since we don’t express the “h” in Spanish indigenous doesn’t typical that this silent letter go not have a duty to play in the indigenous in which the appears.

The comfortable H

Now the concern is why over there is an “h” in Spanish if we never ever actually express it. Well, the factor is word background or etymology. Language is together old as the human race and has evolved a lot end time.

The methods we pronounce and also write indigenous have readjusted so much that you wouldn’t recognize them indigenous a hundred years ago, nevermind a thousand.

In a nutshell, the Latin /f/ sound in the romantic languages readjusted to one /h/ sound as time walk on. Then, at some suggest in late roman inn history, they lost this usage of the /h/ since none that the romance languages use it that means today (source).

But even with the lose of the sound, the price or letter is tho present, and also there are specific reasons because that that. Let’s take it a closer look in ~ the comfortable “h” in Spanish.

When “h” appears next to “c,” it create a new sound, “ch,” which is the same as in English, like chocolate, chair, or change.


Here space some Spanish examples:

Spanish word with “ch”PronunciationEnglish Translation
La chicachee-kahGirl
Chulochoo-lohCute or cool
El charcochahr-cohPuddle
El chistechees-tayJoke
Chillarchee-yahrTo cry / come scream

An “h” at the begin of certain words helps united state to distinguish other words that sound the same — case in point, hola and ola. In this case, the “h” in hola helps us to understand the word “hello” instead of ola, which way “wave.”

This comfortable letter likewise helps collection that appear next to every other. Often in Spanish, 2 vowels alongside each other become one sound, therefore we have the right to use the “h” to separate the sounds.

The same applies to words v two strong vowel sound or twin vowels that can make pronunciation difficult. “H” helps united state to differentiate the sounds.

For example, without the “h,” we would pronounce vehículo (vehicle) bai-coo-loh instead of the exactly bay-ee-coo-loh.

Or, in the case of albahaca (basil), that would just be herbal to express the two a’s in the middle of words as one. The “h” is there to make certain we don’t carry out that.

So, even though we perform not pronounce the letter “h” in Spanish words, we do see that it is no a wasted initiative to write it. Currently that we recognize the dynamics around the word hola and also why over there is one “h” that no one pronounces, let’s look at at words ola.

The definition of Ola in Spanish

Ola is a word we find in numerous languages, yet let’s research the Spanish word word compared to hola.

The origin of ola is unknown, however there is speculation that it comes from the Latin undula, which way wavelet or, possibly, from hāla for surge (of the sea, waves) or fright (source).

In Spanish, we can use ola in 3 ways:

Literally a wave on the surface of water or various other liquidFiguratively because that the suddenly appearance of something big, i.e., ola de calor (heatwave)In the term “Mexican Wave”

Let’s shot this word out in some examples to do the definition clear.

Las olas son demasiado grandes, no podemos surfear hoy.

(The waves are too big, we can’t surf today.)

La segunda ola de la enfermedad fue la peor.

(The 2nd wave of the disease was the worst.)

La multitud apoyó al equipo con una ola*.

(The crowd supported the team v a mexican Wave.)

*Mexican wave can additionally be translated as ola de estadio or ola mexicana (source).

To summarize, the Spanish indigenous ola refers to a wave, whether it is figurative or literal, and we spell words O-L-A.

We also pronounce each letter as we view them. Due to the fact that ola and hola sound the same once we say them, they are what we call homophones.

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The just unanswered question is even if it is ola is a greeting or not. Let’s have actually a look at at one of Spanish’s nearby cousins.