First impressions are an important aspect of any culture. If you’re learning a new language or communicating in a language other than your native one, it is vital that you are confident in using the appropriate terms for greeting others to ensure you make a great first impression.
There may be different greeting customs in different areas, even if those areas speak the same language. For example, there are slightly different customs for greetings and introductions in British, American or Canadian English. This blog will focus on British English greetings and give you a general overview of common greeting styles in the UK.
Importance of learning British greetings & introductions
The most appropriate greeting method will obviously be dependent on the social situation you find yourself in and the relationship you have with the person who you are greeting. In social settings where you are not so familiar with the guests, introducing yourself using your first names and shaking hands with the person you’re being introduced to, is an appropriate greeting.
However, when close friends are meeting, they may hug each other hello and goodbye. In busy social situations where you are meeting lots of people for the first time, it is natural to greet people as you navigate the room and mingle with one another.
Generally, British people don’t ask too many questions when first meeting someone as this can be seen as prying. However, you can of course ask some non-invasive questions e.g., have they always lived in the UK, what do they do for work etc.
Differences between British English and American English
Although there are many overlaps between British and American English, the two countries vary slightly in the slang they use and certain customs for introductions. Here are some examples of British and American greetings:
- Popular British greetings and introductions
- Hello, how are you?
- Alright, how’s it going?
- How are you doing?
- Hey, what’s new with you?
- Good morning, it's great to meet you!
- Good afternoon, how are you today?
- Good evening
- Nice to meet you!
- Popular American greetings and introductions
- Hey, what’s up?
- Hey, what’s going on?
- How is life treating you, buddy?
- How’s your day going?
- Hey y’all, how’s it going?
As you will see, these greetings are very similar, and of course any of these sentences would work as an introduction in the UK. However, phrases like ‘y’all’ to replace ‘you all’ is definitely not a commonly used term for Brits!
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you greet in British English?
Generally, any of the above greetings can be used to greet someone in British English. The best thing to keep in mind is how formal the situation you are in is and how well you know the person you are greeting. If you base your decision on these questions, you can choose an appropriate greeting style based on this.
- Is it important to learn British greetings?
Learning British greetings means you will be able to integrate more easily into British culture because you will become comfortable with introductions and be able to expand your social circle in the UK as a result.
- How do I learn greetings in British English?
You can learn English greetings through interacting with your classmates or making British friends who will help you practice your introduction skills. You can also observe standard British greetings by watching English films or TV programmes.
- What is the best way to learn British greetings?
If you want to learn British greetings, the best way to begin is by researching some popular greetings. Have a look online and watch YouTube videos that offer some suggestions and try practicing the examples we have listed above. When it comes to learning a language and becoming more confident, the best way to improve is of course – practise. Practise introductions with your course mates, or if you have British friends you can practise with them.