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How to Greet in English-Speaking Countries

Greetings are a fundamental aspect of each culture and a sign of good education, kindness, and openness towards others. Every country has its own way of greeting. In Spanish-speaking countries, handshakes are used when meeting acquaintances or someone new, while one or two kisses on the cheek are given to friends and family.

While you definitely know how to greet people in your home country, what about in English-speaking countries? Have you ever wondered if the rules of etiquette vary from one country to another? It is a good idea to prepare yourself, especially if you have planned a vacation to one of these regions, so you always know the correct greeting to respect the culture and not offend anyone. Here we present you some of the most important greetings that can be found in the main English-speaking countries.

The United Kingdom

In the UK, a good handshake is also a sign of good manners. In the case of relatives and those we know well, we can greet them with a kiss on the cheek. One kiss is enough. What English expressions you should use? You could opt for a simple “hello,” or you could also ask the person how they are, even if you have just met. Let’s look at some sentences together.

Formal Greetings

Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening.

Hi, how are you? / Hello, how do you do?

Nice to meet you. (After shaking hands.)

Informal Greetings

Hi. / Hello.

Morning. / Afternoon. / Evening.

How is everything?

The United States of America

Even in the USA, handshakes are very common. In the case of greeting a woman that you know well, you could also give her a gentle hug. Additionally, it is often a sign of politeness to greet someone you make eye contact with while passing on the street. Let’s look at some of the most common phrases.

Hi, how are you doing?

Hey, what’s up?

Ireland

Ireland is a special country, even when it comes to greetings. Even though English is the national language along with Gaelic, the way of greeting in Ireland is very special and varies by region. Let’s see some phrases.

How is the form? (= How is life?)

What’s the story? (= How are you doing?)

Alright there, bud? (= Is everything okay there, friend?)

What’s the craic? (= How are things going?)

What’s the bars? (= Is there any news? Gossip?)

Alright, boyo? (= Is everything okay there, friend?)

New Zealand

The Maori greet each other with the hongi. This is a complex ritual full of meaning in which two people press their foreheads and their noses together while breathing in at the same time. But this is a traditional greeting, which is now reserved for formal occasions. If you meet someone on the street, you will not need to perform this ritual. To greet someone, it is enough to simply shake hands with good eye contact. If you are meeting someone for the first time, it is important that you introduce yourself and that you ask the other person how they are. Here we leave you some sentences.

Kia ora (key-or-rah) (Maori greeting.)

How are you?

Canada

In the case of Canada, the forms of greeting and the gestures are generally the same as those of other English-speaking countries. We can affirm, therefore, that except for a few small variations, the greetings are almost universal. What does often change is the English pronunciation of the sentences. Let’s look at the greetings in this case.

How ya doin’? (= How are you doing?)

Howzit goin’? (= How is it going?)

Whadder yup to? (= What are you up to?)

Australia

We conclude our list with the last and the youngest English-speaking country: Australia. In this case, you might note some differences in etiquette. As Australia is a relatively young country, there is a tendency to not establish a clear boundary between what is formal and what is not. This could cause problems for those people from countries where they are expected to be treated in a certain way according to their social, cultural, or familial origin. In 1980, a Japanese prefecture sponsored a seminar to present the possible difficulties that the Japanese could encounter in Australia. One speaker, Hiro Mukai, said, “Australians have a very naive attitude towards the newly-arrived Japanese. They address everyone in the same way.” This cultural aspect is the consequence of the country’s history and egalitarian policies. Nevertheless, beyond the perceptions that people of other countries may have of Australian culture, the customs related to greetings do not undergo many changes either. Let’s look at the expressions, though.

G’day, mate! (= Good morning, friend!)

How are you going? (= How are you doing?)

Hey, how are you?

Whether you have booked a vacation in Honolulu or in green Ireland, you now know how to greet people and how to behave when you meet someone for the first time. Greetings are the first step in making new friends and starting new relationships at work. That said, it is important that you also know how to have a conversation in English. Do you feel sufficiently prepared? If you need help, you can access the 144 video classes and the many short films that ABA English offers, as well as communicating with their highly-qualified native teachers. What are you waiting for? Start preparing for your trip today.

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