“Hello” is used as an interjection or exclamation when meeting or greeting someone. 

Interjections are words that are a part of speech that expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction. Greetings, as interjections, are used to indicate emotions of warmth toward the other person they meet.

  • Hello. How’re you?”
  • “I thought I would say hello to the new staff.”

It is also said at the start of a phone conversation – usually when you pick up the phone or begin to speak.

  • [On the phone] “Hello?”
    • Hello. May I speak to Wally please?”

Synonyms of HELLO

Hello stranger
– (idiom) Used in a humorous way to greet someone you know that you have not seen for a long time.

However, this could come across as a little rude with the incorrect tone. Furthermore, everyone is connected online these days, so using it can seem a little pretentious.

  • Hello stranger! It’s been a while!”

– An informal greeting of “hello.”

  • Hi. Can I get a latte please?”
  • “Say hi to your brother for me.”

– (informal) Used as an exclamation to attract someone’s attention, sometimes in a less polite way.

This is quite commonly used as a casual greeting here in Australia. However, this may not be as common in other parts of the world and some may even consider it rude because of its original use.

  • Hey Eve. How’ve you been?”

– (informal, American slang) Used to greet someone, but can also be used to attract someone’s attention like “hey.”

This is considered the least formal. This is not that common among Australians, however this is fairly common among migrants.

  • Yo!”

Different greetings

Good morning/afternoon/evening
– (formal) Polite greeting depending on when you meet them during the day.

  • Good afternoon and welcome to our annual conference.”

– Friendly but less formal way of greeting people.

  • Morning, Eve. What’s the schedule for today?”

Good day
– Used as a greeting or when saying goodbye, particularly when it is during the day. This is considered old-fashioned.

G’day (informal Australian Eng)

  • G’day. How’re you going?”

– Said as a greeting to someone arriving at a place.

This is like another way of saying, “we are pleased to have you here,” so this is not quite the same as saying “hello.”

Variations of “welcome” include: “welcome back,” “welcome home,” or “welcome to…”

  • Welcome! Please come in and make yourselves at home.”
  • Welcome back! It’s been a while.”

Look who’s here and Look who it is
– To express surprise when someone arrives, usually a wonderful or pleasant surprise.

It can kind of be used as a greeting, but also a comment or statement.

  • Look who’s here! I thought we weren’t going to see you until next week!”
  • Look who it is! The big boss just walked in!”

However, these phrases can also be used in a sarcastic way with a disapproving tone.

  • Look who it is. He’s late again.”

Speak/talk of the devil
– A similar phrase to “look who’s here” or “look who it is.”

This is used when the person you were talking about appears unexpectedly. It implies that you were gossiping or talking about the person behind their back.

This is not commonly used but it is a well known one.

  • “Hey. Did you hear about… Oh! Speak of the devil.”

Long time no see
– Said when you meet someone you have not seen for a long period of time.

  • Long time no see! It’s great to see you again.”

Make your acquaintance
– (idiom) To meet someone.

Although the word “acquaintance” usually refers to a person you do not know well, this idiom actually refers to becoming acquainted or familiar with someone.

It used as a very formal greeting when you meet someone for the first time.

  • “Nice to make your acquaintance.”
  • “I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.”
  • “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

(I’m) pleased to meet you
– A polite (and less formal) way of greeting someone when you meet them for the first time.

Instead of “pleased,” you can also use other words and add adverbs.

  • Glad to meet you.”
  • “It’s a real pleasure to meet you.”
  • “So lovely to meet you.”
  • “I’m delighted to meet you.”

You can also use these as a kind of farewell or goodbye after your first meeting. Here, you would typically use the past tense if you add the subject.

  • “Unfortunately I have to go now. It was nice to meet you.”
    • Pleased to meet you too.”

You can also change it to a gerund. Some people think this can be used as a greeting, but to me, I think this is better suited as a farewell. Here, you can use either the past or present tense with the subject.

  • “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
    • “Yes, it was nice meeting you too.”

* Please note: If you are meeting someone for the first time, using words like “lovely” or strong adverbs can comes across as too affectionate. “Please or nice to meet you” is polite and neutral.

Nice to see you
– Said to greet someone you already know.

You can also use other words, add adverbs, or change it to a gerund.

  • So good to see you.”
  • “I’m really happy to see you again.”
  • “It’s so awesome seeing you again.”

You can also these as a farewell or goodbye after your meeting. You would also use the past tense if you add a subject.

  • “I gotta go. It was real nice seeing you again.”

Questions as greetings

These are questions that are actually greetings, so responses should be short, general and positive.

It is also expected to ask the question back with, “How about you?,” “And you?” or “You?”

The common expectation when using these as greetings is that responses should be relatively short and positive. Anything that’s negative or contain too much detail could be considered inappropriate and not really socially acceptable.

Greetings that start with “how”

Questions that start with “how” are kind of asking about the well-being of a person, so it’s customary to thank the person who’s asking.

For these, responses are usually positive with adjectives like “fine,” “well,” “good,” “great,” “awesome,” or “not bad.”

How are you? or How’re you?
– Used to ask someone if they are well and happy.

  • “Hey. How’re you?”
    • “Yea, good thanks. You?”
      • “Yea, not too bad, thanks.”

Other similar greetings that are considered less formal include:

  • “How’s it going?”
  • “How’re you going?”
  • “How’re you doing?”
  • “How’s your day/morning/afternoon/evening (been so far)?”

Similar greetings used for people you have not seen for a while include:

  • How’ve you been?
  • How’s everything?
  • How’re things?
  • How’s life (treating you)?

How do you do?
– Formal greeting for someone that you have not met before.

This is similar to “delighted to make your acquaintance,” or a more formal version of “nice to meet you.” This is not that common because this is only used in formal situations.

There are different opinions about this, but to me, this is more like “hello” than “how are you?” The correct response to “how do you do” is “how do you do.”

Greetings that start with “what”

Questions that start with “what” usually ask about what is happening or new in your life. 

Responses should be short and fairly simple, like “nothing,” “nothing much” or “not much.”

What’s up?
– A friendly, very casual greeting that can be used in a few different ways.

Other versions of this is “wassup,” “what up,” and “‘sup.”

It is often used as a casual greeting similar to “hello.” This is rhetorical, so you do not actually answer the question. 

This is also more common where interaction is limited, like when you are passing by another person, or greeting viewers on a YouTube video, or greeting the audience in a casual presentation.

  • What’s up?
    • “Hey.”

When used to greet someone in person however, it is usually used as a casual way to ask what is new or happening in your life. Here, an interaction is expected.

  • “It’s been a while! What’s up?
    • “Nothing much, you?

Other similar greetings include:

  • “What’s going on?”
  • “What’s happening?”
  • “What’s new?”

There are also (less common) American slang greetings:

  • “What’s shakin’?”
  • “What’s sizzlin’?”
  • “What’s poppin’?”

What are you up to? or What’re you up to?
– This is the same as asking “What are you doing?”

However, it is often used as a greeting similar to “What’s up?”

If you are talking to someone that you do not see often or you have not seen for a while, you can ask this in the present perfect: “What have you been up to?” or “What’ve you been up to?”

  • “Hey Wally. What’re you up to?”
    • “Not much. How about you?”
  • “I haven’t seen you for a while. What’ve you been up to?”
    • “Nothing much actually. You?”

Less common greetings

These are greetings that you might come across online or hear on TV or movies but are usually used in specific regions or not that commonly used.

– A shortened version of “how do you do.” 

This is quite well-known because of Western movies and is considered a formal and acceptable greeting in Southern and Western United States. However, it is not commonly used outside of these regions, unless you meet someone who originally came from these places.

Hey boo
– (slang greeting) An endearing greeting to a loved one. 

“Boo” is a slang term for a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a close friend. 

What’s the good word?
– (American informal greeting) Another way of asking “how are you?” 

Wotcha or Wotcher
– (informal British greeting) Similar to “hello,” usually used between friends. 

This is not that common outside of the UK but this greeting was used in Harry Potter.

Greetings and salutations
– (slang greeting) Greeting popularised by a movie.

This is an expression that sounds formal but actually is not. This expression was popularised by a 1989 movie called “Heathers,” where one of the main characters often used it. So it is basically a quote from a movie.

“Greetings” is an expression of good wishes, usually in a written message, and “salutations” is a synonym.

This is not typically used in everyday, casual situations, and would come across as strange.

Original posts: 15 March 2021