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Language is a mean of communication between people. When you think of the absolute basics and the start of a conversation saying a simple word like hi is what breaks the ice. All verbal interactions, well almost all polite, start with a greeting. Starting conversation the right way is important, and the choice of greeting depends on the context. If you get together with your closest friends, you might have your own meta language and special greeting. In a more formal situation, the choice of greeting will depend on how well you know the person and on the relation between speakers.
We'll browse through 20 most common and useful English Greetings for a formal and informal situation, so you can always sound authentic.
Related article: 90 Basic English Words You Should Know (+ Printable PDF)
This greeting is probably the most common informal greeting in the English language. If you are not sure how to greet someone in a more laid-back atmosphere, “Hello” is a sure bet. This greeting also works in some formal situation, when the level of formality doesn't require “Good day” or “How do you do” lines.
There is a more informal way to say already not formal “Hello”. The most popular derivatives are “Hi” and “Hey”.
The greeting “Hey” is for people who you already know, and “Hi” is for a wide array of casual situations.
You can use "How are you?" as a standalone greeting or as complementary to let's say:
- Hello Melanie, how are you?
Use this greeting when you try to be polite and on the brink of informality.
More casual ways to say "How are you" are "How are you doing?" or "How's it going?". This greeting is enrooted deep in pop culture as a Joey character from popular 90's sitcom Friends pickup lines. As with "How are you" these greeting can be an informal way to start a conversation or addition to the basic greetings like “Hello”, “Hi” or even “Hey”.
These phrases are appropriate when you haven't seen someone familiar or from the family-friend circle for some time. You can use it as a conversation starter, behind some more common greeting or at the end of the interaction.
A more casual, informal way of asking a close acquaintance, in most cases someone you have already met, how he is. It is also used instead of "Hi" in some cases.
Another way to ask How are you. These greetings are a widespread and common way to greet persons you know. The polite answer often includes a counter question.
If you haven't seen your friend or relatively close person in a while, you can greet them with these two phrases. Besides their greeting purpose "Long time no see" or "It's been a while" could break the ice and jump-start a conversation.
You can use these greetings later in the day and usually with persons you spend time regularly like a family member, co-worker or friend.
A very polite, mostly formal way to say hello. The form depends on the time of the day, but it's essentially the same line. A more informal way of saying these greetings would be with shorter versions morning, or less likely afternoon or evening.
Not to be mistaken with good evening, a good night is used only if you will not see the person that day anymore. So, it is a form of saying goodbye.
You won't be hearing a lot of this greeting if you are a millennial or younger. Formal and one of the greetings from back in the days that still some older people use.
A very formal and polite way to introduce yourself for the first time. Next time you see the same person you should change your greeting.
You can use this greeting question when you have already met a person you want to talk and haven't seen him for some time.
You should never use "Yo" in business situations. It is as informal as a greeting can be. Nowadays it is not so common and cool like in the early '90s when it was widespread through hip-hop culture.
British English slang and casual way to say how are you?
Geographically limited greeting to parts of North America. If you are not in some parts of Canada and the U.S. you might look odd saying “Howdy”.
Another hip-hop generated abbreviation from already informal greeting “What's up”. If nothing, this greeting is used in a name of the most popular mobile messenger app.
Just like “Howdy”, “G'day mate” is geolocated, but this time in Australia. It is a shorter and more casual version of a good day.
You can use this one if you are in parts of England. It doesn't require an answer, and it's a shorter version of "How are you".
There are different ways to greet each other in English as the greeting depend on the particular situation.There are formal and informal greetings.
If you are not sure what word will be appropriate, use Hello.
People say How are you? just to greet each other and to be polite, but it can also be used for beginning a conversation.
Good morning, Good afternoon, or Good evening are a polite, formal way to say hello.
Using slang forms or greetings and goodbyes, an English learner can always sound authentic.
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