When learning a brand-new language, we an initial learn how to greet people because our interactions v others usually begin with a greeting. In texts, emails, on the phone, and in-person, we start with “hello,” which is common throughout all languages, consisting of Spanish.

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In Spanish, the correct method to greet human being is with words hola, whether it be in a officially or unshened setting, Hola means hello, but the “h” is silent, so we say /ola/. In fact, words ola in Spanish actually means wave. But that’s no all — if you are finding out Portuguese, the exactly expression because that hello is olá.

So, come 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 use these words. This article will take it a closer look in ~ the expression hola and ola and their uses.

What Is the Difference in between Hola and also Ola?

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

The definition of Hola in Spanish

Some scholars preserve that hola involved the shores the Spain with the Arabic Moors, who inhabited Spain in 711 and stayed there until about 1609. The idea is that it’s a kind of the Arab native Allah.

This occupation of Spain is why there are so many Arabic influences not just in the Spanish language but in the religion, farming methods, and architecture that space still obvious today.

Others think the Visigothic warriors brought the indigenous hola once they got into Spain. Lock say the it was a command because that troops come stop.

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

Still, these theories remain largely unproven, for this reason the beginning of the Spanish indigenous hola is still a mystery.

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

One thing we room sure of is the hola way “hello” in Spanish with a few other languages the have additionally borrowed this word for a greeting — this has English. You can actually use hola to 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 between hola and ola come in the pronunciation of this words because you to speak them exactly the same!

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

The comfortable H

Now the inquiry is why over there is an “h” in Spanish if we never ever actually express it. Well, the reason is word history or etymology. Language is as old as the human being race and also has advanced a lot over time.

The ways we pronounce and write indigenous have adjusted so lot that girlfriend wouldn’t recognize them native a century ago, nevermind a thousand.

In a nutshell, the Latin /f/ sound in the romantic languages readjusted to one /h/ sound together time go on. Then, in ~ some suggest in late roman history, they lost this use of the /h/ due to the fact that none that the romantic languages usage it that way today (source).

But also with the ns of the sound, the price or letter is still present, and also there are particular reasons because that that. Let’s take it a closer look at the comfortable “h” in Spanish.

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


Here are some Spanish examples:

Spanish word through “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 start of certain words helps united state to identify other words that sound the same — situation in point, hola and ola. In this case, the “h” in hola helps united state to know the native “hello” instead of ola, which means “wave.”

This handy letter also helps vowels that appear next to each other. Regularly in Spanish, two vowels alongside each other end up being one sound, for this reason we have the right to use the “h” to separate the sounds.

The same applies to words with two solid vowel sound or double vowels that can make pronunciation difficult. “H” helps us to identify the sounds.

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

Or, in the instance of albahaca (basil), it would only be natural to pronounce the 2 a’s in the middle of the word as one. The “h” is there to make certain we don’t do that.

So, also though we perform not express the letter “h” in Spanish words, we execute see the it is not a wasted initiative to create it. Currently that we know the dynamics about the native hola and why there is one “h” that no one pronounces, let’s look at at words ola.

The definition of Ola in Spanish

Ola is a native we discover in numerous languages, however let’s research the Spanish native word contrasted to hola.

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

In Spanish, we have the right to use ola in 3 ways:

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

Let’s shot this word the end in some examples to do the meaning clear.

Las olas son demasiado grandes, no podemos surfear hoy.

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

La segunda ola de la enfermedad fue la peor.

(The second wave of the condition was the worst.)

La multitud apoyó al equipo con una ola*.

(The crowd sustained the team through a mexico Wave.)

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

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

We also pronounce every letter as we check out them. Because ola and hola sound the same when we speak them, they room what we call homophones.

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The just unanswered question is whether ola is a greeting or not. Let’s have actually a look at at among Spanish’s close cousins.