“Hello, how are you?”
“I’m fine, thanks! And yourself?”
I bet this exchange looks pretty familiar — maybe a little too familiar! It’s great that you’ve mastered the basics of saying hello and goodbye in English, but now it’s time to start adding a little variety. Today we’re going to look at different greetings in English (hellos and goodbyes), including when it’s appropriate to use different phrases or expressions. This will help you sound more comfortable and natural in English, and is sure to bring a smile to your conversation partner’s lips!
If you’d prefer to listen to this content, head on over to the MosaLingua Language Lab podcast:
Greetings in English: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
If you’re ready to expand your vocabulary and make your greetings more lively and appropriate for different settings, keep reading!
How do you say hello in English? Well, “hello,” right? Sure, but there are so many more ways to say hello in English, it would be a shame to stick to the most boring one! The expressions below are very common and work in almost every setting. You can say them to a family member, friend, coworker, boss, or a stranger.
- Hi → This works well for every situation. If you’re in an informal setting (friend, coworker), you can try out hiya, which is a little more fun and relaxed!
- Hey → Again, you can spice this one up by saying heyo in less formal settings.
- Good morning / afternoon / evening → You can leave off the “good” if you like, which makes this greeting a little less formal (so it’s fine for friends, bosses, just maybe not the president ;)).
Slang expressions for saying hello in English
For friends and family, you can be more casual and try one of these:
- What’s up? or, ‘Sup?
- What’s happening?
These are pretty informal, so you should not use them with a coworker or boss.
Here’s a pro tip for “What’s up?” Some people don’t know how to respond when people use this greeting to mean “hello.” Should you say “good”? Should you ask it back to them? Or just nod? The typical response in English is “Not much,” but you can also just say “hey” or any of the other above greetings. (Jokers might even say, “The sky.”)
Some more *interesting* greetings in English
Ready for a little originality? You can use these terms for a bit more fun:
- Howdy! 🤠→ This is a typical greeting from the American wild west and today’s southern states – but you can use it even if you’re not a cowboy!
- Aloha 🌺→ This means both “hello” and “goodbye” in Hawaiian, but everywhere else in the world, it’s only used to say “hello.”
- Greetings 👽→ This one is used ironically, as it’s technically quite formal and a little bizarre. You may hear it followed by “earthlings,” as it’s a standard greeting for aliens in movies!
Common Follow-Up Questions to English Greetings
On top of all the extra ways of saying “hello,” you can also switch up the question you ask after it. It’s a nice way of showing that you’re genuinely interested in how the person is doing. “How are you?” is more neutral and formal. The rest can all be used with friends, family, and coworkers.
- How are things (going)?
- What’s new (with you)?
- How have you been? → Especially if you haven’t seen the person in a while.
- How’s life? → This is the least formal; reserved for friends and family.
Here’s another pro tip: in British English, it’s common to hear “Are you OK” or “Are you alright?” in this context. But in American English, you would only ask that if you thought something was wrong or if they had just hurt themselves.
Other small talk questions
If you really want to stand out, try throwing in one of these!
- How do you do? 👑 → This is another one that’s used ironically, because it’s quite formal and a little outdated. Good to get a smile from friends or if you’re addressing the Queen of England.
- What’s shakin’, bacon? 🥓 → Or simply, “What’s shakin’?” Who knows where it came from, but it rhymes and it’s fun!
How do you respond to greeting questions? If the question is about how you’re doing (“How are you”, “How are things?”, “How’s life?”), you can use any of these:
- Fine 🙂 → Just be aware that in English, people sometimes use “Fine” if they’re upset or angry. If they’re scowling or look upset, they may not be doing fine at all! If you have a close relationship, ask them what’s wrong. Just know that they may prefer to be left alone.
- Good 🙂
- Very well 😊
- Great 🤩
- Wonderful 😃
- Hanging in there 😌
- Not so good 😒
- Been better 😔
- Awful 😞
- Busy 😰
- Tired 😴
- A little under the weather 🤧
If the question is about what’s going on right now (“What’s up?”, “What’s happening?”, “What’s new?”), then you can use any of these:
- Not much / Nothing much
- Not a (whole) lot
- You can also actually answer the question! If somebody asks “What’s up?” and you’re deciding what to wear, checking your Instagram, making dinner — feel free to keep them in the loop. These are great ways to avoid standard greetings that can seem insincere or kill a conversation.
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You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello
Okay, now you have a ton of new ways to say hello to somebody in English, perfect for any situation! Now, let’s jump to the end of your conversation. You could say “goodbye,” which is pretty standard, or…
Common/Informal ways to say goodbye
These are all expressions you can use in most situations, as long as it’s not too formal a setting.
- See you soon / talk to you soon
- See you later / talk to you later
- Nice meeting you / seeing you / talking to you
- Have a nice day / afternoon / evening → You can use lots of different adjectives here! Have a good day, have a great day, have a super day, have a fun day, etc.
- Goodnight → Careful! ⚠️ “Good evening” is usually a way to say “Hello”, but “Goodnight” is used exclusively to say “Goodbye” at night.
Here are some less formal ways to bid someone farewell, so you can use them with friends and family, but usually not bosses or informal settings.
- (Catch you) Later
- Have a good one
- Take care / take it easy
- See ya
More interesting ways to say goodbye in English
Finally, for a little more fun when you’re saying goodbye, try these:
- See you later, alligator! 🐊 → To which the standard response is…
- After / in a while, crocodile!
- Peace (out)!
Video: Say Hi to Abbe
To hear some of these expressions in action, check out our video below or on YouTube!
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Greetings in Other Languages
- Learning German? Click here to find out how to say hello, goodbye, and a few other useful expressions!
- Or, learn how to say hello in Italian right here!
- For some essential Spanish expressions, including hello and goodbye, check out this article.
See you later!