Greetings in English

Greeting someone in English is often more informal than it is in many other languages, largely because there are so many accepted ways to greet someone and of those, a high percentage are originally derived from slang terms that have made their way into the mainstream.

These common greetings in English will help guide you through basic introductions. You can, of course, customize them to fit your location, level of English proficiency, and the formality of the situation.

Hello.

This is an informal greeting, used most often with people whom you already know or have a relationship. Variations include:

  • Hey
  • Hi
  • What’s up? (in extremely informal settings — such as close friends or family)

To which you might reply:

  • Hey
  • Hello. How are you?
  • Not much. What’s up with you?

How are you doing today?

A common way of inquiring as to how someone’s day is going. This greeting can be used in both formal and informal settings and will widely be interpreted the same way. Variations can include:

  • How’s it going?
  • What’s going on?
  • How have you been? (a slightly formal way of asking how someone has been doing since you last spoke to them)

To which you might reply:

  • I’m good/well/great. How are you?
  • It’s going well. How about you?
  • I’ve been better (if you are not doing so well)

Good morning/afternoon/evening

A formal way of greeting someone, in professional situations or when speaking to a group.

To which you might reply:

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening
  • Hello
  • How are you today?

It’s good to see you/it’s nice to see you

An informal way to let someone know that you are happy to be speaking or meeting with them.

To which you might reply:

  • Great to see you as well.
  • It’s been too long!
  • How have you been?

Nice to meet you

A slightly formal way to greet someone you’ve just met, after the initial introduction has taken place. Variations can include:

  • Great to meet you
  • Nice to finally meet you in person (for someone whom you have talked with via phone or internet, but have yet to physically meet).

To which you might reply:

  • Nice to meet you as well.
  • Same to you.
  • The pleasure is mine.

Where are you from?

The common way of asking a person’s hometown, this phrase is used in both formal and informal settings. It is a great way to ‘break the ice’ and show interest in a person, as well as get a conversation going.

To which you might reply:

  • I’m from Boston. How about you?
  • I grew up in California but now I live in New York.
  • I’m Indonesian/Chinese/etc.

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