English Lesson: Casual Greetings

Michael Uncategorized 4 Comments

Here is a sample conversation between two friends. I am sure you have seen a conversation like this many times:

Brad: Hello Angela
Angela: Hello Brad.
Brad: How are you?
Angela: I’m fine thanks, and you?
Brad: I’m fine, thank you.

The conversation above is a textbook conversation. You will probably see a conversation like this in a textbook, but probably never have such a conversation in the real world.  Today, let’s have a look at some real English greetings from the real world, not the textbook world.

Generally, hello is used when we when we answer the phone. It is a formal word and we don’t generally use hello when we greet our friends, classmates, or co-workers. Hi or Hey are more common

Brad: Hi Angela
Angela: Hey Brad.

We generally greet our friends by using their name, although for close friends we have some more casual greetings. Yo, hey, and dude are generally used by guys and names are not used:

          Brad: Yo dude
          Jack: Hey dude

In some languages, a conversation starts with a statement about the time of day or the weather. For example:

          Mario: Good morning, Miguel
          Miguel: Good morning, Mario. Nice day today.
          Mario: Yes, it’s a beautiful day

An English conversation a conversation usually starts with a question. There are two kinds of questions we use –  how and what. Here are some examples of each:

  • How are you?                         What’s new?
  • How’s it going?                      What’s up?
  • How’s life?                             What’s going on?
  • How’s everything?                  What’s shaking?

The how questions ask about our feeling or condition, so the answers are something like what I wrote below. Keep in mind that each of these questions has the exact same meaning, so each of the answers could be used with each of the questions:

  • How are you?               →      I’m ok.
  • How’s it going?            →      Pretty good
  • How’s life?                   →      Not too bad
  • How’s everything?        →      Great!

The what questions ask about news or information about us, so the answers are something like what I wrote below. Keep in mind that each of these questions has the exact same meaning, so each of the answers could be used with each of the questions:

  • What’s new?                 →      Not much
  • What’s up?                   →      I just finished work
  • What’s going on?          →      I’m going on vacation next week
  • What’s shaking?            →      I bought an iPad!

Please be careful not to confuse the type of questions someone asks:

          Joe: What’s up?
          Bob: Fine!  ← (the wrong answer, so Joe is confused!)
          Joe: ???  

So if we put it all together, we get something like this:

Brad: Hey Angela
Angela: Hi Brad. How’s it going?
Brad: Pretty good. What’s up?
Angela: I’m going on vacation next week.
Brad: Oh cool! Where are you going…..

This is much better than our “textbook” conversation up at the top of this lesson. The next time you are watching a TV show or movie, listen for how people great each other.  Ok, that’s it for today’s lesson. Thanks for studying with me today and feel free to leave a comment here!

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