We all know the typical way of saying “hello”, but it’s not the only one out there. There are colloquial expressions that make greetings a bit more dynamic, cheerful and less boring.
Greetings and informal expressions
English speakers usually greet each other informally, so you can use these phrases with your friends, family and people you encounter in casual and informal situations.
1. Hey, Hey man, Hi
To greet, you can say “hey” or “hi”; these two English greetings are very popular among young people. Although “hi” is appropriate for any casual situation, “hey” is a word you should only use with people you already know. If you say “hey” to a stranger, they will give you a confused glance and try to remember where they have seen you before!
You can also say “man” after “hey” if you are going to greet a man. Some say “hey man” to greet a girl, although they only do it if they know her very well. Do not forget that “hey” is not always a greeting, since in some situations, it is a word to get someone else’s attention.
2. How’s it going?, How are you doing?
These are casual ways to ask another person how they are doing. If you want to be polite, say “how are you?” Otherwise, you can use the previous two sentences. Keep in mind that the word “going” is shortened and sounds almost like “go-in.”
3. What’s up?, What’s new?, What’s going on?
These are other ways to ask another person how they are, although they are used only with acquaintances. You can answer these questions with “nothing” or “not much.” Or, if you want to chat a little, you can also describe something interesting that has happened in your life lately.
4. It’s been a while, Long time no see
These greetings are used with someone you have not seen in a long time, especially when they appear by coincidence or surprise. But how much is “a long time”? It depends on how often you usually see that person.
5. How’s everything?, How are things ?, How’s life?
Again, these are sentences to ask another person how they are doing. You can greet anyone with these phrases, although they are used more frequently with acquaintances. To answer, you can say “good” or “not bad”.
6. How’s your day?, How’s your day going?
Unlike the previous sentences, these serve to ask another person how they have been throughout the present day. The most appropriate thing to do, is to ask these questions in the last hours of the day to people you see often.
7. Nice to see you, It’s good to see you
They are casual greetings to family, friends or co-workers that you have not seen in a long time. It is very common that these words are accompanied by some show of affection.
Formal and business greetings
In most business situations, it is always best to give a formal greeting and pay attention to the greetings you receive. Also, it’s always a good idea to wait for others to speak casually before you do. You will discover that people will begin to greet you casually as they get to know you better. Formal greetings are also used with older people.
8. Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening
They are formal greetings that change according to the time of day. Keep in mind that “good night” is only used for farewells. Therefore, if you greet someone at night, it is best to say “good evening.” You can turn these phrases into informal greetings by removing the word “good”: “morning“, “afternoon” or “evening”.
9. Pleased to meet you, nice to meet you
They are formal and courteous greetings that are used only with people you meet for the first time. These phrases serve to make you seem more courteous and polite. To greet a person you already know, you can say “it’s nice to see you again”
10. How have you been?
This is an appropriate question only for acquaintances, and serves to know how the other person has been since the last time they met.
11. How do you do?
This is a VERY formal and quite strange greeting that some older people use. The appropriate answer is “I’m doing well” or, even if it seems strange, repeat “how do you do?”.
Colloquial greetings in English
Colloquial greetings are extremely informal and you should only use them with those you have a lot of confidence with. Keep in mind that jargon depends on the region, so the colloquial phrases of, for example, Australia are not the same as those in the United States. That means you should learn the jargon of the place where you are. However, the following greetings in English serve to start.
It is a very informal greeting that is quite common in the United States. Its origins date back to hip-hop of the 90s, and nowadays it is used as a joke. Use this greeting only with close friends and never in a business situation.
13. Are you OK?, You alright?, Alright mate?
In the UK, they are casual ways to ask someone else how they are doing. You can simply answer “yeah fine” or “alright”.
14. Howdy! –
It is an abbreviation of “how do you do?” Very common in certain parts of Canada and the United States. Keep in mind that if you say “howdy” outside of these regions, you will sound like a cowboy and maybe others will laugh at you.
15. ‘Sup?, Whazzup?
These sentences are abbreviations of “what’s up?”; A popular greeting among teenagers. To answer, you can say “nothing” or “not much.”
16. G’day mate! – Good morning friend!
It is a casual greeting in Australia that abbreviates the phrase “good day”. Keep in mind that Australians often say “ya” instead of “you.” Therefore, in this country it is customary to say “how are ya going?” Instead of “how are you?” And “how is it going?”.
This greeting, which is an abbreviation of “how are you?”, Is commonly used in certain parts of England. However, you don’t have to answer this question; you can simply say “hey!”
Now that you know these phrases, your conversations will be more fun and natural.