40 ways to say “Hello” in English and the right way to respond

40 ways to say “Hello” in English and the right way to respond

Hi there! Are you looking for some different ways to say “hello” in English? Well, a good conversation in English (or any language) requires some back and forth. Our students consider us the best English class online because we help our students know different ways to say things, but we also prepare them for how to respond or react.

Conversation is like tennis . You need to know how to hit the ball back to keep the game going! Today let’s focus on the beginning of a conversation: the different ways we say “hello” in English and how to respond.

The Basic “Hello”

There are so many creative ways to say “hello” in English. Whether you are having a casual conversation or preparing for a job interview in English, it’s important to know different ways to start a conversation.

We often start an English conversation with a simple “hello.” You may see someone you know, make eye contact with a stranger, or start a phone conversation with this simple greeting. You may be asking yourself: “What should I say instead of “hello?”

So what do you say to someone who has just said “hello” to you? Of course you can respond back with “Hello” or “Hi,” but does that move the conversation forward? No it does not!

Remember, we want to hit that tennis ball across the net. Answer a simple “hello” with a question. “How are you?” is a popular way to respond and keep the conversation going. You may want to add a simple “hello” to your response just to acknowledge the person, like “Hi there! How are you?” or “Hey man. What’s up?”

What do people really mean when they ask “How are you?”

When people start off an English conversation with “How are you?” they usually don’t expect you to go into much detail. Think of the “How are you?” question as a simple way to get the conversation going.

This is what we call “exchanging pleasantries.” We are just warming up with some easy questions and answers. If your conversation partner signals wanting to continue the discussion, answer in more detail later.

The only exception to this rule is if you know your conversation partner really well. They may signal to you that they want more details when they emphasize the word “are” in the question. “How ARE you?” They mean, “How are you REALLY doing?” Here are some different ways to say “How are you?”

What’s the best way to respond to a “How are you?” question? If we are at the beginning of a conversation and still “exchanging pleasantries,” we want to answer quickly and move the conversation forward!

More often than not, our goal is to let the other person know that we are fine and that we appreciate their interest. We can say, “I’m doing fine!” “Everyone is good.” or “Things are going great!” We don’t always have to say “Everything is awesome!” We can just say “Things are OK.”

However, be careful expressing negative thoughts. If you say “Things are not good.” or “I’m not doing well.” your conversation partner may ask you to explain (as a courtesy to you), so be prepared to let them know your problems!

To show them we appreciate their interest, we can thank them. If someone asks you “How are you holding up?” You could say “I’m holding up fine. Thanks for asking.” If they ask “How are you doing?” you can say “I’m good. Thanks!” Another way to show appreciation is to return the favor – ask them how they are doing! If they ask “What’s up?” We can say, “Not much. How about you?” If they ask “Everything OK?” We can say “Yes everything is OK. And you?”

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Want to be polite? Be a mirror.

In a more formal setting, it shows that you are listening, and that you agree with what them. When you are meeting someone for the first time, it is considered polite to engage in this way. If you are improving your English for work, mirroring is also great for negotiation!

So if someone says “It’s nice to see you!” Feel free to respond with “It’s nice to see you too!” If they say “It’s been a while!” respond with “Yes, it has been a while.” Of course, if you simply mirror someone you are signaling to your conversation partner that it is their turn to continue the conversation… but, you can also ask them a question back if you want to have a more detailed talk.

Try adding “What’s new with you?” or “What else is new?” and you might have the start of a full-blown conversation! Good conversations in English start with knowing how to say “hello” and how to respond, but it takes some practice to move past the greeting.

Are you having trouble making conversation in English? Try Lingoloop… you won’t believe what our students are saying about us.

Not sure? Sign up for a free trial class today to learn about our unique approach to conversational English learning!