How you greet someone in English is very important. In English speaking countries, greeting someone (and if necessary, introducing yourself) before a discussion will determine if you will have good rapport with someone or a terrible conversation. Before we get into the lesson, please watch the video below which shows you some common greetings and introductions in English.
The greetings in the video above are called "informal" because they are the type of greetings you use in a casual conversation with someone on the street. Here are some other examples of informal greetings:
- What's up?
- How ya (you) doing?
- How's everything?
- How's it going?
- What's happening?
- What's new?
- What'cha (what have you) been up to? (What have you been doing lately?)
- Hello. I'm......
- Hi. My name is......
If you're introducing someone else, like your cousin who is named Eric to a friend named John, you can say, "John, I'd like you to meet Eric, my cousin."
Business greetings and introductions
Now look at the video concerning how to greet someone in a formal (business) situation.
As you can see, the overall tone of voice and body language are different than in the first video. The man and lady maintain eye contact during the entire conversation. They are polite without being too friendly or relaxed. Here are some examples of formal greetings:
- Good morning.
- Good afternoon.
- Good evening.
- Hello. How are you?.
- How do you do? (not commonly used in American English)
Here are some possible formal responses:
- I am fine. Thank you.
- I am well. Thank you.
- I'm doing well. Thank you.
Here are some examples of ways you can introduce yourself in a formal situation:
- Let me introduce myself. My name is....
- I’d like to introduce myself. I’m.....
- I don’t think we’ve met. I’m....
Also, you should know that in a business situation, you may have to introduce your manager (or someone else above you at the company) to a co-worker. This has to be done in a specific way. When you do the introduction, you have to state your manager's name first. Let's say that your manager's name is Mr. Smith and your co-worker's name is Gary Dylan. Here is how you would introduce them:
Mr. Smith, I would like to introduce Gary Dylan, an engineer in our maintenance department. Mr. Smith (you say this part while looking at Gary) is the company's Vice President of Marketing.
NOTE: In cases where you introduce a client (a customer) to your manager (or anyone at your company), the client is considered to be higher, so you say his or her name first.
Greetings for Romance
Sometimes, you may be in an informal social situation (like a friend's party) where you see someone across the room, and you immediately feel a romantic interest in him or her. This is a special kind of situation where you can't be too formal or too informal. Using English for romance is tricky, and there are many websites that give you tips on what works and what doesn't. Someone even created a course on how to send romantic text messages from your cell phone.
However, the first step where you express interest in the other person is not that difficult. Generally, it's a good idea to first make eye contact briefly to see if the other person is interested in talking to you. If you periodically glance over at the other person a few times, and find that the other person is glancing back at you, then it's probably acceptable for you to go over and introduce yourself. You can then use one of the informal introductions listed above to "break the ice".
I should also warn the men out there about using what we call "pick up lines" in English. A pick up line is a creative way for a man to introduce himself to a woman and start a conversation with her. However, most American women view pick up lines as stupid and ridiculous, so you shouldn't waste your time with them. Just in case you don't believe me, here are some of examples of pick up lines that some men actually use with women:
- You must be a thief because you just stole my heart!
- I hope you're a nurse because I just hurt myself falling for you!
- I'm sure you get arrested a lot since it MUST be illegal to look that good!
- Someone should call the fire department because you're SMOKIN'! (smoking)
- You must be an alien because there's NOTHING like you on planet Earth!
- Do you have any sunscreen? Because you're burning me up!
- You're so hot that you must be the REAL reason for global warming!
Closing Your Conversation
When I teach in my classroom, I emphasize to my students that it's not only important to greet someone in a positive way, but you must also finish or close a conversation with a positive feeling. If you want to end a conversation with someone, then it's a good idea to, as we say in the United States, "wind things down."
This means that you give the other person a polite indication that you need to stop talking and move on to other things. You could say, for example, "Oh wow! I'm late for my class! I really have to go." (informal) or "I'd like to continue talking, but I have to attend a meeting at one o'clock." (This is for formal situations.) Here are some informal and formal ways to close a conversation:
- See ya.
- See ya later.
- Catcha' (catch you) later.
- Have a good one (a good day).
- Have a nice day/evening/night.
Greeting Related Grammar
Basic greetings and introductions use the simple present tense in English. The simple present is generally used to show an action which repeats itself or a statement that is true. Here are three great websites you can use to learn (or just review) the simple present tense:
- English Page's simple present tense page. This page not only shows you all the different ways (with timelines) to use the simple present, but also includes a link to some quizzes at the bottom of the page, so you can test what you know.
- Perfect English's simple present tense page. This page gives a simple but thorough explanation of the simple present. It also has some links to great quizzes at the bottom.
- English Club's simple present tense page. Although this explanation is not as good as the others, it does have all the example sentences organized into a convenient table. It also has a quiz you can take.
Listening Practice Time
Now it's time to listen to some audio activities related to today's lesson. Both of these activities come from an excellent website called the Cyber Listening Lab. The first activity (click the link to open) is about a man and a woman who have met once before but without a real introduction. The second activity is one where the speaker will ask you some questions related to introductions, and you have to choose the right answer.
Also, just for fun, I posted a music video below with Lionel Ritchie singing his famous song "Hello." I sometimes use this song in my class for listening practice, and my students love it. I also posted a link to a comprehension activity which tests how well you understood the song.
Once you have listened enough times to the song, you can take this small test about it.
Speaking Practice Time
The video below will help you to review what you have learned so far and even give you an opportunity to speak a few responses. The video doesn't provide instruction on pronunciation, just a chance to talk. If you need actual help speaking clearly in English you should think about taking an online English speaking course for extra practice such as the American Accent Course.
Greetings Lesson Review
Now let's go through a visual review of what you have learned so far. The animation below will go over what you learned in this lesson and teach you a few extra things as well. Press the play button (at the bottom of the animation window) to get started. The animated lesson contains a group of sections. When you are ready to move from one section to another, press the play again.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson, and feel free to leave a comment. Don't forget to tell all your friends about my English blog!