15 ways to say “Hello” in English

Acknowledgement: The following post is based in part on material from Phrasemix.com. Hopefully we have improved that post!

You might know two or three ways to say “Hello” to someone, but there are actually dozens of different expressions.

Why do we need so many different ways to say “Hello”? One reason is that English speakers like to avoid repeating words. If one person says “Hello”, the other person might not want to repeat “Hello”, but might use one of the following instead:


This is the plain, everyday expression that you should probably use most.

Good morning

Say this the first time you see someone in the morning. It sounds nice, though a little formal.


This is a more casual version of “Good morning.” “Good afternoon” and “Good evening” are even more formal and are mostly used to address and audience at a meeting or event. Still teachers and students may use it, as well as doctors and to a friend’s parents. You can also hear, ‘afternoon’ and ‘evening’ as less formal versions.


Use “Hey” with people that you know well. It’s not exactly rude to use with strangers, but it might be confusing. The person that you say “Hey” to might think, “Huh? Do I know this person?”

What’s up?

This sounds casual and cool. Even though it looks like a question, it doesn’t need to be answered. Other versions include, ‘What’s happening?’ and ‘What’s going on?.’

How ya doin’?

This is the casual version of “How are you doing?”. It’s used a lot in meeting someone for the first time.

How’s it going?

“How’s it going” looks like a question, but sometimes it’s not. Often Americans say ‘How’s it going’ instead of ‘nice to meet you’ when meeting someone for the first time. You can say this to someone instead of “hello”, even if you’re only passing them by and don’t intend to wait to hear their answer.


Originally ‘how do ye?,’ (1560’s) ‘howdy’ also is quickly becoming archaic. Still, it is used sometimes to lighten the atmosphere or add humor. We don’t say ‘howdy’ in return- maybe we’ll say ‘hi’ and laugh a little.

Well, hello!

Say “Hi” this way when you’re surprised to see someone, or if you haven’t seen them in a long time. It makes you sound happy to see them.

Hello handsome. (Hello beautiful.)

Almost only used between very close friends as a way of boosting their confidence. This greeting is usually meant to be taken lightly. Again, don’t use it unless you know the person very well and have a good, friendly relationship.


Thought of as hip-hop slang, ‘Yo!,’ or (‘Yo! Yo!”)actually has a long history. Besides using it to say ‘hello,’ it can also mean, ‘hey!’ and ‘listen up!’ or as a conversation filler.


This is an extremely formal greeting. Robots on TV and movies say “Hello” this way. You can use it to be funny if you’re tired of using other phrases.

Look who it is!

You can use this when you see someone that you haven’t seen in a long time or are surprised to see. It usually sounds happy but is sometimes used sarcastically.
We were just talking about you!
This is an energetic way of inviting someone into a conversation. You may have literally been just talking about someone, or perhaps you want to include them in an activity or get their opinion.


Common Greetings

Audio: 1) Simple greeting; 2) Used in a short conversation
Hi!Hi! Nice to see you!
Good morning.
Good morning. Nice day, isn't it?
Morning! Are you awake yet?
Good afternoon./Good evening.Good evening ladies and gentleman.
Hey!Hey! Nice to see you.
What's up?So what's up with everything?
How ya' doin'?How ya' doin'? I haven't seen you for a while.
How's it going?Hey, how's it going? I'm Dave.
Howdy!Howdy! So what's everyone doin'?
Well hello!Well hello! Where have you been hiding?
Hello handsome.Hi beautiful.
Yo!Yo, yo!
Greetings!Greetings people from earth.
Look who it is!Look who it is! We haven't seen you for ages!
We were just talking about you.Hey, we were just talking about you. What are doing Friday night?
Common Greetings