Hello!  What do I say next? 

Hello!  What do I say next? 

 

If you are a non-native speaker of English as a second language, you are probably familiar with the most common greeting:  Hello

 

So, now you might be wondering what to say next. Before you answer that question you should understand what type of language to use. There are two types of conversational models; formal and informal. 

 

Formal is the language of “business” and first encounters with people you want to impress or leave a lasting impression. 

 

  • Who do you speak formally to? 
    • Boss 
    • Teacher
    • Government officials 
    • Village Chief (Nai ban) 
    • Older people or relatives
    • People you meet in business situations (e.g., meeting new clients and/or suppliers, networking and etc.,) 

People that you are meeting for the first time.

When you are informal you are being friendlier and more approachable. This is mainly used in casual situations.  

 

  • Who do you speak informally to?
    • Friends 
    • Friends of friends 
    • Colleagues or coworkers
    • Children
    • People you meet in casual situations (e.g., on the street, in the supermarket, at a restaurant, etc.,) 

 

Now that you know the difference between formal and informal, let’s look at ways to greet formally and informally.

 

Formal

  • Hello
  • How are you? 
  • How are you doing?
  • How have you been?

 

Informal 

  • Hi 
  • Hey 
  • What’s happening?
  • Yo. What’s up?
  • What’s going on?

What’s new?

 

Now that you know different ways of saying hello, let’s look at ways of responding to questions and greetings. 

 

  • Responding positively 

 

  • I am good or I am fine are the most common formal expressions.
  • It’s all good 
  • Everything is great
  • Excellent, wonderful, fantastic 
  • Couldn’t be better 

                        These other expressions can be used in situations where you want to be more casual.

 

  • Responding neutrally 
    • Same old same old 
    • Nothing new or nothing much
    • The usual
    • Same as always
    • Nothing’s changed
    • Nothing to complain about or not complaining
    • These are all informal and should be avoided in formal situations.
  • Responding negatively
    • Not so good
    • I‘m having a bad day
    • Things are terrible 
    • Could be better

These expressions are used when you would like to talk to the other person about your troubles, and should only be used with people that you know well. 

 

When you talk to someone you have never met before, it is always best to be formal. After some time has passed, the relationship may get less formal and then you can gradually be more at ease talking to them, and maybe actually become friends. Take into consideration the circumstances, the relationship between you and others, and the situation that you are in before greeting people. Just remember to start formal and be conservative about the subjects of conversation, then begin to bring down the level of formality the more often that you engage in conversation together. Also, stick to topics of conversation that are neutral and don’t cause others to get emotional or angry. Do not ask personal questions of others until you get to know them better.  Keeping these points in mind will help you to meet new people, start conversations easily and even make new friends from anywhere around the world.

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