Good morning / good afternoon / good evening
Nice to meet you
Much of our day is spent in a formal environment, and when you're coming from a language like Japanese, you understand how formality is important. However, Japanese tends to have more defined rules for formality, usually based on a natural hierarchy in the relationship or group. In English, these are some of the scenarios were formal language might be required:
- business settings, like communicating with colleagues or customers
- a job interview
- showing respect to elders
- speaking with someone you don't know
The following greetings are useful in these scenarios.
Our first greeting is obviously time-dependent. Good morning is best used before 12 pm, good afternoon between 12 pm and 5 pm, and good evening after dark.
If you're meeting someone you know, it's always nice to greet them by their name, for example:
- Good morning, Tom!
- Good afternoon, Mrs. Smith
- Good evening, David
In situations where you aren't sure of the other person's name, you can either leave it off or use something like sir or madam, which feels super polite!
Although it's always safer to be polite, sometimes formal language can sound cold and indirect. In situations of comfort, it's better to use informal, or more regular greetings to show a level of affection for the people you're speaking with. Think of situations like:
- chatting with friends/family
- after-work drinks
- at lunch
- greeting neighbours
Hello, how are you?
It's common to ask someone how they're doing when you say hello. "Hello, how are you?" A common situation is:
- A: Hi, I'm Dave, how are you?
- B: Hi Dave. I'm good thanks, how are you?
This shows there's a mutual interest in each other and is a nice way to start any conversation.
'Nice to meet you' is a polite greeting, used when meeting someone for the first time. Though the workplace might call for formal language, it would sound very strange if you said "nice to meet you" every morning to your boss!
A typical conversation might go something like this:
- A: Hello, my name is Andrew.
- B: Hi Andrew! Nice to meet you, I'm Dave.
- A: Nice to meet you too, Dave.
Note, that you can swap 'nice' for other words, such as good or great, to give great emphasis. "Great to meet you!" sounds like you are super happy to meet them, so make sure it's genuine!
Hello / Hi / Hey
Similar to hello, it's likely you already know hi to greet people and these two words are very flexible to be used in both formal and informal situations. A standard conversation might start like this:
How's it going?
Morning / Afternoon / Evening
Long time no see
A natural replacement for "how are you?", how's it going is perfect to use with friends, family, and casual acquaintances.
- A: Dave! How's it going?!
- B: It's going great, Paul! How's it going with you?
These three greetings follow the same rules as the formal example 'good morning / good afternoon / good evening', but have a friendly and casual feel to use in other situations. They can be particularly useful when you are not stopping for a conversation, for example, when you pass a colleague in the corridor or a friend on the street.
This is best used when you see someone for the first time in a while, or see someone you weren't expecting to see.
Use this one when you see someone you know for the first time in a while, typically followed by asking how someone has been.
- A: Hi Kieran! Long time no see!
- B: Hey Paul! Long time! It's so good to see you.
- A: How have you been? What's new?
A typical conversation might go something like this. You can see there are versions of other greetings all combined in this one conversation!
These are just a few of the various greetings you can use in English. Come back in the future for other versions, including slang and country-specific greetings!