Basic English Greeting Words Used in Any Situation

Learning a new language can leave you feeling at a loss for words. You might feel stuck on one phrase for every situation.

Greetings open up lines of communication and can form friendships, so knowing more than the basics can help you. Read on to learn English greeting words and expand your vocabulary.


This versatile greeting works in many settings. You can use it informally with friends, family, and children.

But, you may also use this word for a formal greeting, like with elders or business meetings. This might be the first thing you learn from any language service provider, but not necessarily the only greeting you want to use.

Hi or Hey

Sometimes you want to relax and speak informally. In this case, a simple “hi” will do the trick.

“Hey” also grabs a friend’s attention. But, use caution as this word can cause offense when said in the wrong situation. Always use it with close friends and in a friendly manner.

Good Morning/Good Afternoon/Good Evening

In a formal setting, like when greeting an audience, you might address the time of day to greet people. These phrases indicate that you hope that the day is bringing good things to them. You may also use good morning more informally, as it is nice for everybody to begin the day well.

Good to See You!

Expressions of happiness to see another person starts off a conversation well. When seeing a friend again, say, “Good to see you!” This shows them that you want to spend time with them.

How Are You?

You might also greet people with a question. Asking them about their well being is polite.

More than that, it shows your interest in how they feel. This can open up the conversation in all sorts of ways, depending on how they respond.

What’s New?

When seeing a friend, you might ask them what’s new to greet them. This informal greeting also shows interest in their life. 

It invites them to talk about their life and share any big events with you. This can help you two get comfortable, especially if you went a long time without seeing one another.

Long Time No See!

This expression may seem strange and incomplete to somebody learning formal English. But, you can say it to a friend after going a long time without seeing them.

When said with emphasis, it can show surprise or excitement for seeing that person. It may also express a sense of missing them in a roundabout way.

Pleased to Meet You

When first meeting somebody, you might politely express that you feel pleased to meet them. People often use this formally. But, it can work in any type of setting.

Choose Your Greeting Words Wisely

Often, a greeting serves as your first impression to others. Choose your greeting words with care so that you enter each situation politely and your intention comes through.

Are you learning English for your travels? Find more useful tips on the travel section of our website!