How do American say hello?

Home » English Vocab and Grammar » 17 Useful English Greetings for English LearnersBy Jessica and Alan Last updated: June 3, 202217 Useful English Greetings for English LearnersYou

How do American say hello?

Home » English Vocab and Grammar » 17 Useful English Greetings for English Learners

english greetings

By Jessica and Alan Last updated: June 3, 2022

17 Useful English Greetings for English Learners

You probably already know hello and how are you?

However, English speakers dont always say hello and how are you?

They also use many other English greetings and expressions to say slightly different things.

You can also use such English greetings to sound more natural, and also to express yourself more clearly and precisely, even at the beginner English level.

Lets learn how to use some other simple formal and informal English greetings, as well as fun slang expressions that people around the world use to greet each other. Whether youre an ESL student or a English business professional, weve got you covered.

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Common English Greetings and Expressions

English-speaking people usually greet each other in an informal way, so you can use these common conversational greetings for friends, family, as well as people you meet in casual settings.

What if you dont have constant access to English speakers? How can you practice these expressions?

FluentU is a great tool for learning todays authentic English.

FluentU takes authentic videoslike music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talksand turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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Each video comes with interactive captions. Just click any unfamiliar word for an instant definition and pronunciation. There are also flashcards and exercises to make sure you remember the words.

Its a super fun way to learn English the way native speakers really use it. Check out the FluentU free trial and start learning the phrases below (and many more) from real situations.

1. Hey, Hey man, or Hi and Greeting a stranger

You can use hey and hi to greet someone instead of hello. Both are particularly popular among younger people. While hi is appropriate to use in any casual situation, hey is for people who have already met. If you say hey to a stranger, it might be confusing for that person because he or she will try to remember when you met before! You can also add man to the end of hey when greeting males. Some people also use hey man to casually greet younger women, but only do this if you know the woman very well. Remember that hey doesnt always mean hello. Hey can also be used to call for someones attention.

But what about introducing yourself to a stranger? Speaking with strangers is often a dreaded (feared) task for many speaking in a second language and for English learners, it is no different. We have particular titles used for greeting strangers in English and usually, it is more formal speech than hey, hey man or hi.

For a full breakdown of how to politely greet strangers in English, then be sure to check out the video below.

If you are looking for more great tips about native-speaking, then make sure you subscribe to the FluentU YouTube channel now as theres much more where that came from!

And of course, once youve nailed the introductions, theres another set of phrases you need to learn!

Thats right, farewells (saying goodbye!)

But dont worry, the FluentU English YouTube channel also has a video on that!

2. Hows it going? or How are you doing?

These are casual ways of asking how are you? If youre trying to be particularly polite, stick with how are you? but otherwise, you can use these expressions to greet almost anyone. The word going is usually shortened, so it sounds more like go-in. You can answer with its going well or Im doing well depending on the question. Although its not grammatically correct, most people just answer good  and you can too. Like when responding to how are you? you can also follow your answer by asking and you?.

3. Whats up?, Whats new?, or Whats going on?

These are some other informal ways of asking how are you? which are typically used to casually greet someone you have met before. Most people answer with nothing or not much. Or, if it feels right to make small talk, you could also briefly describe anything new or interesting thats going on in your life, before asking what about you? to continue the conversation.

4. Hows everything ?, How are things?, or Hows life?

These are some other common ways of asking how are you? They can be used to casually greet anyone, but most often theyre used to greet someone you already know. To these, you can answer good or not bad. Again, if small talk feels appropriate, you could also briefly share any interesting news about your life, and then ask the person what about you? or another greeting question.

5. Hows your day? or Hows your day going?

These questions mean how are you? not just right now, but how youve been all day. You would use these greetings later in the day and with someone you see regularly. For example, you might ask a co-worker one of these questions in the afternoon, or a cashier that you see at the grocery store every evening. Its going well is the grammatically correct response, but many people simply answer with fine, good or alright. By the way, notice that good, fine or not bad are perfect answers to almost any greeting question.

6. Good to see you or Nice to see you

These casual greetings are used with friends, co-workers or family members that you havent seen in a while. Its common for close friends to hug when they greet each other, particularly if they havent seen each other in some time; so you might use this greeting along with a hug or handshake depending on your relationship with the person.

7. Long time no see or Its been a while

These casual greetings are used when you havent seen someone in a long time, particularly if you meet that person unexpectedly. How much is a long time? It depends on how often you normally see that person. For example, you could use one of these greetings if you normally see the person every week, but then dont see them for a few months or more. Usually, these English phrases are followed with a question like how are you, how have you been? or whats new?

Business Greetings andFormal Greetings

Its best to begin by using formal greetings in most business situations, and then listen to how your co-workers or business partners greet you. Its a good idea to wait until someone speaks casually with you before you speak casually with them. You may find that people will begin to use casual greetings with you over time, as you get to know each other better. Formal greetings are also used when you meet older people.

8. Good morning, Good afternoon, or Good evening

These are formal ways of saying hello, which change depending on the time of day. Keep in mind that good night is only used to say good bye, so if you meet someone late in the day, remember to greet them with good evening, rather than good night. Good morning can be made more casual by simply saying morning. You can also use afternoon or evening as informal greetings, but these are less commonly used.

9. Its nice to meet you or Pleased to meet you

These greetings are formal and polite. If you say this to someone when you meet him or her for the first time, it will make you seem courteous. Remember to only use these greetings the first time you meet someone. Next time you see the person you can show that you remember him or her by saying its nice to see you again.

10. How have you been?

This greeting question is only asked by people who have already met. If someone asks you how have you been? they want to know if you have been well since the last time the two of you met.

11. How do you do?

This greeting is VERY formal, and quite uncommon, but it may still be used by some older people. The proper response is Im doing well or, as strange as it seems, some people even ask how do you do? right back as an answer.

Slang English Greetings

Slang greetings are extremely informal, and should only be used with people that you know very well, and feel very comfortable with. Keep in mind that a lot of slang is regional, and using Australian slang, for example, in America can sound quite strange. Youll need to learn the local slang wherever you are, but these common examples will help you get started.

12. Yo!

This extremely informal greeting is common in America. It comes from 1990s hip-hop slang and these days its often used jokingly. This greeting should only be used with very close friends, and never in a business setting.

13. Are you OK?, You alright?, or Alright mate?

This casual way of asking both hello and how are you is common in Britain. You can respond yeah, fine, or simply alright.

14. Howdy!

This is a very informal abbreviation of how do you do? that is common in certain parts of Canada and the U.S. Keep in mind that if you say howdy outside of these regions, you will sound like a cowboy, and it might make the other person laugh.

15. Sup? or Whazzup?

These greetings are abbreviations of whats up? which are common among teenagers. Like with whats up? you can answer nothing or not much.

16. Gday mate!

This casual greeting is an Australian abbreviation of good day. Keep in mind that Australian greetings often use ya instead of you. So how are ya? is the same as how are you?, and how are ya going? is basically the same as hows it going? or how are you doing?

17. Hiya!

This greeting, short for how are you?, is commonly used in certain parts of England. However, you dont need to actually answer this question  you can just say hey! right back.

I hope you enjoy trying out these new English greetings. Youll find that greeting people in different ways will help your English sound more natural, and it might even make English greetings more fun and interesting for you.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
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