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Casual Greetings in English Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 in Culture, Speaking English

We are all familiar with the standard, more formal expressions upon meeting someone.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, CCO

  • Hello
  • Hi, it’s nice to meet you.
  • Good morning/afternoon/evening.
  • I’m pleased to meet you.

However, what do you say when you know someone well but you’re seeing them for the first time after a day or so? I pass coworkers in the office every day. It’s polite to say something to them. Or, when I see a friend or relative that I haven’t seen in awhile, how do I greet them? In fact, there are many ways to say hello in casual settings.

I recently had an experience in which someone warmly greeted me in a grocery store, and I had absolutely no idea who this person was. I heard a woman’s voice call out my name, so I turned and saw a woman walking toward me. She said, “I thought that was you!” and she threw out her arms and gave me a big hug.

“Hi,” I said. “How are you? What are you up to?” The whole time I’m thinking, Where do I know this person from?

She went on to tell me that she had just returned from seeing her mother who had a recent health scare, we talked about the weather, she hugged me goodbye, and we parted. I realized who she was about 15 hours later.

I didn’t want to be rude and ask her who she was. After all, she clearly knew me. But, sometimes you’ll run into someone outside of the normal circumstances that you associate with them and it seems difficult to make the connection. I have no idea if she ever figured out that I didn’t recognize her, but I think that I made polite conversation under the circumstances. And, more importantly, I greeted her in a normal, casually friendly way.

If I pass one of my coworkers in the offices of Transparent Language, I will usually acknowledge that person by name, often with some other greeting attached.

  • Hey, Andy.
  • What’s up, Todd?
  • How are you doing, Priscilla?
  • What’s happening, Tom?
  • How’s your day going, Janet?

What if it’s someone whom I don’t know well?

  • Hey, man!
  • How are ya?
  • How’s it going?
  • Hey, s’up?

There are some good, one-word phrases of acknowledgment.

  • Cheers!
  • Yo!
  • Hey!
  • Howdy!

Yo is an abbreviation of, “Hey you.” S’up is an abbreviation for, “What’s up?”

What if you run into a group of people? Even if you don’t know everyone in the group, you can greet everyone together.

  • Hey guys!
  • Look who’s here!

And if you haven’t seen someone in a long time?

  • How’s life been treating you?
  • Look at you! It’s been a while.
  • Hey, what’s new?
  • How’ve you been?
  • What are you up to these days?

Notice how many casual greetings begin with, “Hey”? If “Hi” is the casual form of “Hello”, then “Hey” is the casual form of “Hi”.

Finally, I’ll share with you the greeting I give to my male cat (and one or two very close male friends). You have to be very selective when using this greeting, and never greet a woman this way.

  • Dude!

And remember, if someone greets you and you don’t know who they are, just act cool and keep the conversation simple. You’ll probably remember who it is eventually.

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