Greetings

Ever wondered how to greet people? or how to say goodbye? you'll find all kinds of phrases for that here.

Greetings in English

What Do We Mean by Greetings?

Greetings are words, phrases, or actions used to acknowledge and welcome someone when you meet them or communicate with them. They are a way of showing politeness, respect, and acknowledgment toward the other person. The type of greeting used can depend on the culture, context, and relationship between the individuals involved.

Why are Greetings Important?

Greetings are Important in almost every culture in the world. Greetings can help us communicate better with people and start socializing. It is also important to know how to greet different people. We cannot greet our boss the way we greet our best friend or a stranger, or an elderly person, each of these demands a different way of greeting.

Levels of Formality

The reason it is important for us to know the level of formality of each of these phrases is to maintain the level of formality when talking to another person. It would be weird if the other person starts the greeting very formally and we reply with an informal phrase or the other way around. Therefore it is very important to observe the level of formality of the situation, which can be:

  • Formal or Neutral
  • Informal
  • Slang
  • Letters and Emails

Formal and Neutral

Here, we have listed some of the greetings based on their degree of formality from very formal, to formal, and neutral. Some phrases can be used in both speech and writing. These can be used in business conversations, or when talking to people you don't know well, or in other formal situations. The neutral greetings can be used everywhere and with anyone. Have a look at the following table:

Phrase Level of formality Form
Hello Neutral Writing and Speech
Hello Mr...,Ms...,Mrs...,Miss... Formal Writing and Speech
How are you? Neutral Writing and Speech
How do you do? Formal (British) Speech
Hi Neutral Writing and Speech
Pleased to meet you Formal Speech
It's a pleasure to meet you Formal Speech
Good morning/afternon/evening/night Neutral Writing and Speech
How have you been? Neutral Speech

expressing greetings

Tip!

If we say hello/hi + a title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Prof.,...), the title may or may not be followed by a family name, this will make the greeting more formal.

Informal Greetings

Here, you can find less formal (informal) phrases that can be used in social events, with friends, with people you may already know, etc. Let's have a look at the following table:

Phrase Level of formality Form
Hi Neutral-Informal Writing and Speech
Hello+ first name Neutral-Informal Writing and Speech
Hello/Hi there Informal Writing and Speech
What's up? Informal Mostly Speech
How’s it going? Informal Speech
How’s things/how’s life? Informal Speech
Long time, no see! Informal Speech
Hey / Hey man! / Hey guys! Informal Speech
Nice to see you Informal Speech

Tip!

If we use Hello/Hi + a first name, this will make the greeting informal. For example, 'Hello Jasmin' or 'Hi Jack'.

Slang

Here, we have listed some slang greetings. They may not be grammatically correct, but they are used in spoken English. You can use them when greeting friends or people who are close to you and you feel comfortable with:

Phrase Level of formality Form
Hiya Slang Writing and Speech
Yo! Slang Speech
‘Sup? Slang Speech
Are you OK?, You alright?, or Alright mate? Slang Writing and Speech
Howdy!* Slang Writing and Speech
G’day mate! Slang-British Writing and Speech
Heyyy Slang Writing
What’s the craic? Slang-British Writing and Speech

As you can see, there are different slang expressions in American and British English. So you must pay attention to where you can use each of them.

Tip!

'Howdy' is a very informal abbreviation of 'how do you do?' which is very common in parts of Canada and the US. Remember, if you use “howdy” outside of these parts, you will sound like a cowboy, and it might sound a bit funny to other people.

Letters and Emails

We mostly use very formal and particular greetings when writing emails/letters. Let's check the following table:

Phrase Level of formality Form
Dear Sir/Madam Formal Writing
To Whom It May Concern Very formal Writing
To the Hiring Manager Very formal Writing
Dear Mr..., Mrs..., Ms..., Miss..., Prof..., Dr... Formal Writing
Hope this email finds you well Formal Writing
Hope you are well Formal Writing

Closing Greetings

There are some greetings that are used at the end of a meeting or letter. Let's check some of the common ones:

Phrase Level of formality Form
Goodbye Neutral-Formal Speech
Bye Neutral-Informal Speech
Yours Sincerely / Yours Faithfully Formal Writing (letters/emails)
Best regards Formal Writing (letters/emails)
All the best Neutral-Formal Writing and Speech
See you later/tomorrow/in the morning Neutral Speech (mostly)
Take care Neutral Writing and Speech
See ya Slang Speech
Catch ya later Slang Speech
Lots of love / Much love Informal Writing (mostly)
From + [name] Neutral Writing
Peace out Slang Speech

Tip!

There are some differences between American and British usage. For example, in American English people might say: Hey what's up? (Informal), but in British English, to make the same point they use the phrase: 'Alright mate'.
There are many other cases like this. Another example is that in British English, the phrase 'Are you ok?' has the same meaning as 'What's up?', but if you use the same phrase in America, it would mean that you think they look sick or unwell!

How To Respond To Greetings

There are two ways to respond to greeting:

  • One word responses
  • Long responses

One Word Responses

We can respond to some greetings with a single word (usually the same greetingis repeated). Let's see some examples:

Greeting Possible short answer example
Hello Hi
Hey there! Hey!
What's up? Nothing!
Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening

Long Responses

A one-word greeting can seem a little bit dry, so we can sometimes use longer responses to greetings. Here are some examples:

Phrase Possible long answer example
How are you? Great, thanks. What about you?
What's up? All good, what's up with you?
How do you do? Wonderful, and you?
How's everything? Not so well, I have been having a lot of ups and downs lately.

Self-Introduction

Self-introduction is very important, it is the starter of socializing with others. The introduction and the information you would like to give about yourself depend on the situation, whether it is a classroom, a business meeting, among new friends, etc. An introduction can include the following steps:

  1. Giving your name/family name
  2. Giving information about yourself
  3. Asking the other person about their name/information (optional)

Let's check an example conversation in a classroom:

A : Hello everyone. My name is Jasmin. I'm a new student here, nice to meet you. Looking forward to getting to know you all.

Here you can see another example in a different situation:

A : Hello.

B : Hi.

A : My name is Max, I'm Sara's friend. What about you?

B : I'm Tina, and I'm new here, nice to meet you.

A : Nice to meet you too. How old are you? and where are you from?

B : I'm 23 years old, from South Carolina.

Here are some phrases you can use when introducing yourself:

  • My name is .../I'm...
  • Nice to meet you; I'm ...
  • Let me introduce myself; I'm ...
  • My name is Cameron, but you can call me Cam.
  • Pleased to meet you; I'm ...

Introducing Others

To introduce others you need to follow these steps:

  • State the name of the person you are introducing

First, you need to state the name of the person you are introducing. You can use the following phrases to start:

I would like to introduce...

This is...

May I present...

  • Offer some information about the person, depending on the situation

You can give a little information about the person you are introducing, such as the relationship between you two (this is my friend/husband/partner/classmate, etc.). If the situation demands, you can use titles such as Mr., Ms., Professor, Doctor, etc. You can also consider telling their job or any other information you think is suitable for the occasion.

  • Remember to introduce the other people to the person you first introduced

When you are introducing one party, remember to introduce the other party too. It is very rude to just introduce one of the people.

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