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Hello in English Posted by on May 21, 2013 in English Language, English Vocabulary

When you first greet someone in English you can say ‘hello’ or you could spice up your greeting with a number of other ways of saying ‘hi.’ This post is all about different ways you can say ‘hello’ in English.

To start let’s look at one of my favorite ways for saying ‘hello,’ which was made famous by a cartoon carter from my childhood “Fat Albert.”

Now, if you think you can pull off a “hey, hey, hey” like Fat Albert I say go right ahead, but if you are looking for something a little more tame, take a look at some of the different options for say ‘hello’ below.


Use “hey” with people that you know well. This is a familiar term and though not rude to use with strangers, if you say “hey” to someone you don’t know they might wonder if they do know you.


This is a very short informal slang version of the word ‘hello’ that people started using in the 1980’s and 1990’s and it is still used today.

“What’s up?” or “Sup” or “Wazzup?”

Again these are casual terms, often used with people who already know one another. Although this is a question, it doesn’t need to be answered; it is just like saying ‘hello.’

“How’s it going?”

This is another question greeting that you can use instead of ‘hello’, and does not necessarily require an answer. People often just say this to one another as they pass by on the street and don’t wait for an answer from the person they say it to. But if you stop to talk, it would be nice to give an answer to this question with something like: “good” or “fine.”

“Greetings” or “Greetings and salutations”

Here is a very formal way of saying ‘hello.’ People use this in formal situations, but sometimes they also use it informally, just to be funny.

“Well hello!” or “Why hello there”

These are expression you can use to say ‘hello,’ when you are surprised to see someone, or if you haven’t seen them in a long time. Alternatively, sometimes men use these greeting when they say ‘hello’ to a beautiful woman, particularly someone they find very attractive.

“Howdy” or “Howdy partner”

This is a way of saying ‘hello’ that is associated with cowboys. It is perfectly fine to use in causal company as a substitute for ‘hello’ for non-cowboys too.

“Look what the cat dragged in!”

This is a really fun way to say ‘hello’ to someone that you haven’t seen in a long while. If you use this expression to say hello to a native English speaker (who you haven’t seen in a long while) I am sure she/he will be quite impressed. This greeting is a bit of a joke that is referring to a person like a dead mouse or some piece of trash that a cat has found outside and carried inside. It is a strange expression, but trust me, people do say this.

“Long time no see.”

This is another way of saying ‘hello’ to someone you haven’t seen in a long time. You might be more comfortable using this greeting instead of  “look what the cat dragged in,” although they are both used in the same instances.

Later this week I will have another post for you about how to say ‘goodbye’ in English in a number of different ways .See you again soon.

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About the Author:Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.