How to Say Hello

What’s the proper way to address an English speaker? Here are some common spoken greetings (in American English):

Introductions

  • “Hi”
  • “Hello”
  • “Hey”
  • “[Name of person being greeted]!” (Very informal; said enthusiastically)
  • “It’s nice to meet you” Or “Nice to meet you” (If meeting someone for the first time)
  • “Pleased to meet you” Or “It’s a pleasure” Or “The pleasure is mine” (This last is only used in response to “Pleased to meet you”)

In casual settings – as when greeting friends, neighbors, classmates, or equals,  for example – all of these are appropriate. In more formal settings – as when greeting, for example, work superiors or some relatives, “hi” and “hello” are still appropriate, but “hey” is not. However, the use of any expression should always be judged in context – that is, case by case. If you’re good friends with your boss or buddy-buddy with your relatives, “hey” may be perfectly fine.

You may also use time-specific greetings

  • “Good morning” (Used often and comfortably amongst friends, family, and acquaintances alike)
  • “Good afternoon” (Not used often and especially not used familiarly, e.g., amongst friends)
  • “Good evening” (Not used often and especially not used familiarly; used somewhat more often in slightly more formal settings, as in a public address or when greeting a host/hostess at a restaurant)

Time-specific greetings are excellent openers to public addresses (i.e. when speaking to crowds), as is the phrase “ladies and gentlemen”. Often, such greetings are followed by a thank-you to the listeners for attending the address.

Common conversation starters

  • “It’s great to see you”
  • “It’s very good to see you”
  • “Nice to see you” (If a lot of time has passed since seeing the person being greeted, this could be accompanied by: “After so long”)
  • “It’s been quite awhile” Or “It’s been awhile” (If a lot of time has passed)
  • “It’s been so long” Or “I can’t believe it’s been so long” (If a lot of time has passed)
  • “How long has it been?” (If a lot of time has passed)
  • “I’m glad we’re doing this” (Where “this” refers to meeting up)
  • “I’m glad we have the chance to get together”
  • “Glad we were able to work this out” (Where “this” refers to getting together)
  • “Did you have an easy trip?” (If the person being greeted traveled to the meeting place)
  • “How was the trip?”
  • “How was your trip?”
  • “Did your trip go okay?” Or “Trip go okay?” Or “Trip was fine?”
  • “How was traffic?” (If the person drove)
  • “How were the roads?” (If the person drove)
  • “How was your flight?” (If the person flew)
  • “Was your flight on time?” (If the person flew)
  • “Was your train on time?” (If the person came by rail)
  • “How are you?”
  • “How are you doing?” Or “How you doin’?” Or “How ya doin’?” Or “How doing?” (The last three are very informal)
  • “What’s going on?” (Mostly familiar)
  • “What’s happening?” (Mostly familiar)
  • “What’s up?” (Very familiar)
  • “What’s up with you?” (Also very familiar)
  • “What’s the latest?” (Implies: “What’s new in your life?”)
  • “How is everything? “(Similar to “What’s the latest?” Implies that the person asking isn’t totally up to date on what’s going on in the life of the person being asked)
  • “How are things?”
  • “How’s things?” (This is not correct grammar, but it’s part of the English vernacular)
  • “How’ve you been?” Or “How have you been?” (Appropriate for all levels of familiarity)

Try these out, then check back later for more conversation tips and conversation closers!

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