Pop Quiz: What does every conversation have in common?
Answer: They all have a beginning and and end (goodbyes/ farewells).
Now think for a moment, how many ways do you know how to greet someone in English?
You probably learned basic greetings like, “Hello” and “How are you?” which are useful in a wide range of situations, but they are kind of boring.
Why Greetings Are Important
When I first came to Brazil I didn’t understand how important greetings were when meeting new people. I used to greet people by saying, “Hola,” which nobody else does.
The result of saying this is that people would think that I didn’t speak Portuguese and would ask my friends questions about me instead of asking me directly.
I was pretty annoyed by this but I realized it was my own fault that they treated me like that because I didn’t greet them in a way that they were expecting. Once I started saying things like, “E ai cara, beleza” (a popular Brazilian greeting) people started treating me like a normal person.
Because greetings are a part of every conversation, it is important to know how to use them properly and with confidence. Its easy to become fluent with their use because you have an opportunity to practice them every time you talk to someone.
Over the course of a day you can practice dozens of times until you have achieved total confidence in their use.
The first moments of an interaction you have with someone are crucial because they set the tone for the conversation to follow. If you start a conversation doubting yourself and unsure of what you’re saying this will effect your performance for the rest of the conversation.
But if you can effortlessly use the right greetings then you will feel confident during the rest of the conversation.
It’s important that you feel confident when greeting someone because they will quickly form a first impression of you that may be hard to change later on. If you greet someone with confidence they will feel more comfortable with you and will form a positive first impression.
If you stumble around and aren’t sure of what you’re doing, they may misjudge your true level of English and speak to you differently than you’d like.
In order for you to gain confidence and control during conversations here is a list of greetings that you can use.
General greetings (Formal)
These greetings can be used in any formal situation, such as a business meeting or meeting someone’s parents, and they can also be used in informal situations as well.
- How are you? or How’re you?
- How are you doing? or How ya doin’?
This is different than “What are you doing.” “How are you doing?” means “How are you?” whereas “What are you doing?” is asking what action you are currently doing.
- How is everything?
- How’s everything going?
General greetings (Informal)
These greetings can be used in any informal situation. To show extra enthusiasm you can add “Hey” to the beginning of these greetings.
- (Hey) What’s up (man/dude/bro/their name)?
- (Hey) Good to see you.
- (Hey) How are things (with you)?
- (Hey) How’s it going?
The pronunciation can be shortened to “goin’.” A typical response to this question is “It’s going good.”
- How’s life been treating you?
- What’s cracking?
The pronunciation is often shortened to “crackin’.” This is highly informal and should only be used with people around your age. Its similar in use to “What’s up?”
- What’s good?
- What’s happening?
The pronunciation is often shortened to “happenin’.”
Greeting a person you haven’t seen for a long time (Formal)
- It has been a long time.
- It’s been too long.
- What have you been up to all these years?
- It’s always a pleasure to see you.
- How long has it been?
- What’s new?
Greeting a person you haven’t seen for a long time (Informal)
- Long time no see.
This is the most common.
- Where have you been hiding?
This is a playful way of greeting someone.
- It’s been ages (since I’ve seen you).
- How’ve you been?
Now that you have this list of greetings at your disposal, go out in to the world and start practicing them. Make sure you use them with confidence so that you make a good first impression. Try to use a different greeting every time you have English class or meet with your English speaking friends.
If you liked this article, you will probably enjoy 26 Ways to Say Goodbye, which will show you how to end a conversation is a smooth and fluent manner.
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What is your favorite way of greeting someone?
If you liked this article, maybe you’ll enjoy How to Make a Fluent First Impression.