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10 Ways to Say Hello Without Ever Saying the Word Hello

Updated: May 20, 2022

In English, there are often many different ways to say one thing. For example, when native speakers greet one another, they often do so without ever saying the word “hello!” Specific variations vary amongst english speaking countries, but today we’ll look at a few phrases that are common in the United States. Keep in mind that while every phrase on the list is used often, they’re all extremely informal, and generally used amongst people who have met before. When in more formal situations it’s best to stick to the greetings you were taught in school, like “hello,” “how are you” and “it’s a pleasure to meet you.”


1. Hey!

It’s true that we exclaim this word when we want to draw attention to someone or something. But did you know it can also be used to casually greet friends? It’s actually really common. If you use it yourself, just keep in mind that this word is extremely informal. It shouldn’t be used to greet people in more formal situations, like job interviews or meetings.

2. What's up?

Everyone gets confused the first time they encounter this phrase. What is up? Your first instinct may be to look up towards the sky, but your acquaintance isn’t literally asking you what’s overhead. They’re just saying hello! Just like “Hey,” “what’s up” is extremely informal, and typically used between friends. This idiomatic greeting is thought to have originated sometime during the early 19th century before it was made popular in the 1940s by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. But be careful, because context is important! While it can be used as a greeting, this phrase is also used as a replacement for “what’s the problem.”

3. How's it going?

This is another informal expression with multiple meanings. Aside from being a greeting, it is also used to ask about progress on a particular project or task. More often than not, this phrase is used as a greeting.

4. How are you doing?

This is yet another phrase with multiple usages. “How are you doing” is a slightly informal way of saying hello, but is appropriate for use in most situations. It’s also used to ask about how others feel emotionally.

5. How are things with you?

It isn’t used as frequently as “how are you doing,” but this phrase is used in the exact same ways. This saying implies familiarity, so it’s best used when speaking to someone familiar.

6. Good to see you (good to see ya)!

Here’s another phrase best used between people who have met before. This phrase is neither formal nor informal, so it’s appropriate to use it in most cases. But don’t say it to someone you’ve never met before. If you do, you’re bound to end up in an awkward situation where your listener questions whether or not you’ve met.

7. Howdy.

This is a very informal greeting that is most often used in southern regions of the USA. If you’re visiting for the first time, don’t be surprised to hear it. It’s extremely common. It has one meaning, and one meaning only: hi.

8. Yo!

This is undoubtedly the most informal greeting on the list. It’s used often by members of younger generations. If you’ve spent any time in an American university, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with it.

9. Morning.

This is a polite way of greeting someone in the morning. As a general rule, it’s most appropriately used before noon. Between noon and 6pm, it’s more appropriate to say “afternoon.” Any later than this, and the most appropriate thing to say is “good evening.”

10. There he/she is!

If you’ve heard this before, it’s because someone was happy to see you! This phrase is typically used to indicate excitement. You might use it when your favorite guest arrives to an event, or when you see an old friend for the first time in a long while. It is a very informal saying, so avoid using it in more serious situations.

There you have it. 10 different ways native speakers say hello, without ever actually saying the word hello. Use this list to add variety to your speech when meeting both old and new friends. Just keep in mind the level of formality associated with whichever phrase you opt to use, and choose wisely according to context. Good luck!

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