Greetings - Social Language

Greetings are used to say hello in English. It's common to use different greetings depending on whether you greet a friend, family or a business associate. When you meet friends, use informal greetings. If it's really important use formal greetings. Formal greetings are also used with people you do not know very well.

Greetings also depend on whether you are saying hello, or you are saying goodbye.

Learn the correct phrases using the notes below, and then practice using greetings with the practice dialogues.  

Greeting Someone the First Time

Once you have been introduced to someone, the next time you see that person it is important to greet them. We also greet people as we leave people. In English (as in all languages), there are different ways to greet people in formal and informal situations.

Introduction (first) Greeting:

How do you do?

Greetings after the Introduction

How are you?

Here are phrases used for greeting when arriving and departing in both formal and informal situations. 

Formal Greetings: Arriving

Good morning / afternoon / evening.
Hello (name), how are you?
Good day Sir / Madam (very formal)

Informal Greetings: Arriving

Hi / Hello
How are you?
How are you doing?
What's up? (very informal)

It's important to note that the question "How are you?" or "What's up?" doesn't necessary need a response.

If you do respond, these phrases are generally expected:

Very well, thank you. And you? (formal)
Fine / Great (informal)

Formal Greetings: Departing

Good morning / afternoon / evening.
It was a pleasure seeing you.
Note: After 8 p.m. - Good night.

Informal Greetings: Departing

Nice seeing you!
Goodbye / Bye
See you later
Later (very informal)

Here are some short example conversations for you to practice greetings in English. Find a partner to practice and take a role. Next, switch roles. Finally, make up your own conversations.

Greetings in Informal Conversations

Anna: Tom, what's up?
Tom: Hi Anna. Nothing much. I'm just hanging out. What's up with you?
Anna: It's a good day. I'm feeling fine.
Tom: How is your sister? 
Anna: Oh, fine. Not much has changed.
Tom: Well, I have to go. Nice seeing you!
Anna: Later.

Maria: Oh, hello Chris. How are you doing?
Chris: I'm well. Thanks for asking. How are you?
Maria: I can't complain. Life is treating me well.
Chris: That's good to hear. 
Maria: Good to see you again. I need to go to my doctor's appointment.
Chris: Nice seeing you.
Maria: See you later. 

Greetings in Formal Conversation

John: Good morning.
Alan: Good morning. How are you?
John: I'm very well thank you. And you?
Alan: I'm fine. Thank you for asking.
John: Do you have a meeting this morning?
Alan: Yes, I do. Do you have a meeting as well?
John: Yes. Well. It was a pleasure seeing you.
Alan: Goodbye. 

More Social Language Key Phrases

Special Days
Speaking to Strangers
Traveling phrases