Informal Greetings in English

Learn some common greetings in English with this free English lesson by English Teacher Fred. How do native speakers say hello in English?

Hi. I’m English Teacher Fred and this is a lesson about informal greetings in English. A greeting is just saying, “Hi.” Just saying, “Hello, let’s talk. Let’s have a conversation.” And informal means common, usual, everyday. Just the normal way to talk to your friend. This is a normal, informal way to say hello with your friends.

Usually in English class you go to English class on the very first day and you open your book to page one, unit one, lesson one, and it says, “Hi. How are you? I am fine, thank you. And you?” Right? You all remember this on your first day of English class: Hello, how are you, I am fine thank you, and you?

So this is what you usually learn in English class but it’s not the way that people usually greet each other. I mean, maybe they say this. Maybe they say, “Hey, how are you?” They might say this; it’s a normal greeting in English. But there are many other ways that people also greet each other.

For example, if I see my friend I might say, “How’s it goin’?”

“How’s it goin’?” Now, I took off the G. Going has a G, right? But I took off the G and put the apostrophe instead. This is the American accent. “How’s it goin’?” instead of “How’s it going?” “How’s it goin’?” This is the American pronunciation for informal, informally, saying this sentence. “How’s it goin’?” It just means the same thing as “how are you.” “How are you?” “How’s it goin’?”

Or I might say, “How’s life?” or “How’s everything?” “How are you?” “How’s it goin’?” “How’s life?” “How’s everything?” Or, I might say this: “What’s new?” This is a very common greeting. “What’s new?” or “What’s new with you?” You can just say “what’s new” or “what’s new with you.” “Hey, what’s new with you?” or how about: “What’s goin’ on?” Again I took off the G. There’s no G. “What’s goin’ on?”

“What’s happenin’?” Once again, no G. “What’s happenin’?” “What’s goin’ on?” This one here, “what’s happenin’” is kind of old-fashioned now. This was the popular slang in the 1960s, 1970s: “Hey, man, what’s happenin’?” Now it’s kind of old fashioned but it’s also still common, still normal.

All of these are very common, very normal. This one here is a very modern one: “What’s up?” Very modern, very normal today. “What’s up?” Or you might have heard people say it quickly: ‘wassup?” Say it very fast: “what’s up” or “wassup”. Or if they say it very fast it might sound like this; it might sound like: “’sup?” It’s the same thing just said very fast. What’s up: ‘sup. You know, maybe you heard this in a hip-hop song or in hip-hop culture, they say: “Yo, ‘sup?” Like this: “Yo, ‘sup?” It just means “yo” like “hello” and “’sup?” means “what’s up” but said very quickly. “’Sup?” “What’s up?” “’Sup?” “Yo, ‘sup?” Did you hear this before? “Yo, ‘sup?” It just means, “What’s up? How are you?”

All of these mean the same thing; they all mean, “Let’s have a conversation.”

Hello. How are you? How’s it goin’? How’s life? How’s everything? What’s new? Or, what’s new with you? What’s going on? What’s happening? What’s up? Hey, ‘sup? How are you?

They all mean the same thing. You don’t need to worry about exactly what does it mean; exactly what does each word mean. It’s not important because the meaning for all of them is the same. It’s the same as, “How are you? Let’s talk. I’m interested in you.” Okay?

So these are the questions: question, question, question, question. And what about the answer? In English class you usually learn “how are you” and the answer to it is “fine”. I’m fine thank you, and you? Fine is sort of so-so: not really great, not really bad, just normal, just fine. How are you? I’m fine. Everything’s okay.

So, you could use, for any of these, either… for example: How’s it going? It’s going great! I’m having a great day; I won the lottery; I’m really happy. Or it could be bad, like: How’s life? It’s terrible; I’m having a really bad day; my head hurts; I’m too busy. So all of them are good or bad, right? They’re all either good or they’re bad. How’s everything? Oh, terrible! How’s life? It’s great! Fine is also good or bad but fine is in the middle- not really great, not really bad, but just normal.

So all of these have the answer which is good or bad. But these ones here are different. These all begin with how: how, how, how, how. These ones: what: what, what, what, what. So the answer must be different. If you said, “What’s going on?” “Fine.” It doesn’t really work; it doesn’t make sense. So you need a different answer for these questions. A very normal answer, what people usually say is, “Not much.” Like: “What’s going on?” “Not much.” “What’s new with you?” “Oh, not much.” It’s different than good or bad.

And also with the “how” questions, you don’t say “not much”. With the “how” questions you just answer good or bad. With the “what” questions the normal answer is “not much”. “What’s happening?” “Not much” And then after that, after one question, one answer, you want to keep the conversation going. You want the conversation to continue. So, after that, usually you would either say more or ask a question.

For example, person A says, “What’s new with you?” And then person B says, “Oh, not much. How about you?” Right? “What’s new with you?” “Not much. How about you?” This is a very normal greeting. Or “What’s going on?” “Not much.” and then you could say more. So this is also B here.

For example: “What’s up?” “Not much, I’m on my way to school. I have three classes today…” So you give more information. And then maybe after that you could ask the question. Like: “How’s it going?” “It’s going really good! Today I’m going to be working. How about you?” Right? You could do both of these, say more and ask a question. Or just ask the question or just say more. “How are you?” “Fine. How are you?” “How’s life?” “Oh, not so good. I’m kind of not having a really good day. What about you?” Right? So this is the normal flow, the normal way that greetings in English would go between two friends.

Okay? So, how are you today? How’s it going? What’s happening? What’s up with you? Okay, I hope to hear from you. Stop by EnglishTeacherFred.com, okay? Have a nice day! Bye bye.

Listen to some more greetings in English on this page: learnenglish.de/basics/greetings

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