Saying “Hello”…trickier than it seems!

As in any language, there are many ways to say “hello” in English with different levels of familiarity and meaning attached to them.

Here are some of the most common ways to say hello- and when you should use them.

Good morning/afternoon/evening

This is a greeting that can be formal or informal, which is great because it means that it’s versatile.

Coming into the office? Meeting someone for the first time? Going to the checkout counter at the grocery store? Whip out a handy “Good morning!” and you’re good to go!


There’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned “hello.” While I don’t say hello to close friends so often, I use it with strangers all the time. It’s a great greeting if you’re unsure what to say.

It’s always good to open a conversation or introduction with a “hello!” You definitely can’t go wrong with that.


“Hey” is very informal, and should probably only be used with friends. At the office, it’s best to stick with “hello,” but when meeting friends after work, saying a nice “hey” will set the tone for a laid-back evening full of laughs.

How are you?

It’s extremely common to follow up any greeting with the question “how are you?” Asking someone how they are is simply a matter of formality, more than looking for a detailed description of how someone is doing.

If you ask someone how they are right after a greeting, don’t be surprised if they answer with, “Fine, and you?” Once you really get into the conversation, they’ll probably ask you again how you’re doing, and expect to find out how you’re actually doing.

Try out some of these greetings the next time you’re speaking English, and see where the conversation takes you! Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new close friend!

How do you say “hello”? I’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher,  yoga instructor, and is more of a “hey” than a “hello” kind of gal!