4 Types of English Greetings You Can Use Every Day in the U.S.

4 Types of English Greetings You Can Use Every Day in the U.S.

A friend once invited me to her parent's home for dinner in South Korea. When I arrived, her mother greeted me at the door. "Hello," she said. "Come!"

After we sat down, her mother poured me a glass of beer. "Hello, drink." Then, she brought out a tray with a half-dozen small dishes and slid them toward me. "Hello, eat."

I turned to my friend and asked, "Why's your mother keep saying 'Hello?'"

She translated my question to her mother and a few minutes later they were both laughing.

"My mom's funny!" she said. "When she sees Americans on TV, she thinks they're always saying, 'Hello.' If she understood English, then she'd hear the whole conversation –– but she can't. She only understands, 'Hello.' She thinks she needs to say 'Hello' to be polite!

Her mother raised her beer glass and smiled. "Hello, sorry."

That was a fun evening –– one that began and ended with "Hello."

When traveling to countries where English isn't an official language, we often rely on this general greeting to increase the likelihood of being understood. However, in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, we employ a variety of other greetings as well.

In this post, I'm going to share 4 types of English greetings you can use every day in the United States.

1. General Greetings

General greetings can be used anytime.

"You?" or "Yourself?" is a shortened version of "How about you?" or "How about yourself?" that's used for responding to "How..." or "What..." greetings –– not general greetings.

A: How are you?
B: Good. Yourself?

"Hey man" is usually said from one man to another in an informal setting whereas "Yo" is a slang way of greeting friends.

"Howdy" is an informal greeting that originated as a shortened form of, "How do you do?" "Howdy" or "Howdy, Howdy" is usually heard in the American Southwest.

Typical Greetings

  1. Hi

  2. Hey

  3. Hey man

  4. Hello

  5. Howdy

  6. Greetings

  7. Yo

  8. Welcome!

Typical Responses

  1. Hello

  2. Hey

  3. Hey there

  4. Hello

  5. Hi

  6. Hi

  7. What's up?

  8. Hi

2. Time of Day Greetings

Time of day greetings can be used as the sun rises and sets – in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Depending on what time you wake up, morning and afternoon might be slightly different for you, but here's a general guideline:

  • Morning: 5:00 am to 12:00 am

  • Afternoon: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

  • Evening: 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm

While "Good night" may sound like a greeting, it's actually used to express good wishes when parting at night or before going to bed.

Typical Greetings

  1. Mornin', Sam

  2. Mornin'

  3. Good afternoon

  4. Afternoon

  5. Evenin'

  6. Good evening

Typical Responses

  1. Good morning

  2. Mornin'

  3. How ya doin'?

  4. Afternoon

  5. Evenin'

  6. How are you?

3. "How..." Greetings

"How..." greetings can be used anytime. When responding to these greetings, we often use adjectives like "Fine," "Good," "Not bad," etc.

"You guys" is often used in the American Midwest, Northeast, West Coast and other U.S. regions –– regardless if the person you're speaking to is male or female. Nevertheless, some women will be insulted if you refer to them as "guys." Listen to how others use this greeting and respond accordingly.

A: How are you guys doin'?
B: We're hanging in there.

"How've you been?" is used when you know the person, but it's been a while since you've last met.

"How y'all doing?" is Southern American English that's common in the American Southeast in states like Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc.

When responding to "How..." greetings, keep your responses neutral or positive. Want to learn more about greeting others? Read 10 Tips for Using the English Greeting – "How are You?"

Typical Greetings

  1. How are you?

  2. How are things?

  3. How ya doin'?

  4. Hiya doing?

  5. How are you doing today / tonight / this morning / this afternoon / this evening?

  6. How are you guys doing?

  7. How's it going?

  8. How’s everything?

  9. How's your day going?

  10. How’s everything going?

  11. How’s life?

  12. How’s your day?

  13. How've you been?

Typical Responses

  1. Good. You?

  2. Ok. How about with you?

  3. I'm hanging in there.

  4. Doin' good.

  5. Ok. You?

  6. Great. How about you?

  7. Goin' well.

  8. Great. How about you?

  9. Goin' well.

  10. Alright. How are you?

  11. Not bad. Yourself?

  12. Good. How're you doing?

  13. Pretty good, thanks! Yourself?

4. "What..." Greetings

"What..." greetings can be used anytime. When responding to these greetings, we often use expressions like "Not much," "Not a whole lot," "Not bad," etc.

With young people and very casual interactions, you may hear "What's going on?" shortened to "What's up?" or it might be further reduced to a non-standard, greeting like one of the following:

  • What up?

  • Wassup?

  • Waz up?

  • Wazzup?

  • Wuzzup?

  • Wussup?

  • Wa'up?

  • Sup?

When responding to "What..." greetings, keep your responses neutral or positive. Want to learn how to transition from greetings to conversation? Read 6 Surefire Ways to Start a Conversation.

Typical Greetings

  1. What's up?

  2. What's new?

  3. What've you been up to?

  4. What've you been doing these days?

  5. What's new with you?

  6. What's going on?

  7. What's happening?

Typical Responses

  1. What’s going on?

  2. Not a whole lot. How about with you?

  3. Nothing much. You?

  4. Just keeping busy How about you?

  5. Not a whole lot.

  6. Same ol', same ol'.

  7. Not much.


You just learned 4 types of English greetings that you can use every day in the United States. Start employing a variety of greetings and responses to be friendly and meet others in the U.S.

Can you think of anymore greetings? Answer in the Comments below.

4 Types of English Greetings You Can Use Every Day in the U.S. first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.


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Jeff Shibasaki blogs about effective communication skills for the USA at Culture Gaps and healthy web design for unhealthy websites at Bento Sites.