The Many Ways of Saying “Hello” in English

In English, there are quite a few ways to say hello. You can use some phrases at any time, while other phrases should only be used at specific times of the day.

At Any Time

These phrases are acceptable to use at any time of the day:

  • Hi
  • Hello
  • How’s it going?
  • How are you?
  • Hey
  • What’s up?

Only At Specific Times

These phrases should only be used at specific times of the day:

Between 5:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
  • Good morning
  • Morning
Between 12:00 p.m. and Approximately 5:00 p.m.
  • Good afternoon
  • Afternoon
After 5:00 p.m.
  • Good evening (This phrase is typically only used in formal situations)
Good Day is Not a Common Phrase

In many other languages, the default greeting translates to English as “good day.” For example, bonjour in French, guten Tag in German, or dobar dan in Serbo-Croatian.

In English, however, good day is never used. While not technically incorrect, it is not used by American English speakers and is perceived as “old-fashioned” or outdated.

Good Night is Not a Greeting!

The phrase good night is not a greeting. It is only used when you (or the person you are talking to) are going to sleep.

Sample Dialogues

Let’s go through some sample dialogues!

It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. Wei and his co-worker Rob are at the co-working office.

Good morning, Rob.

Hey Wei, how was your weekend?

It was great, I went hiking. How was yours?

Not bad, I caught up on sleep and started working on the home page theme.

Now, it’s 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Richard comes up to Wei’s desk.

Good afternoon, Wei. Did you get a chance to test the demo I sent?

Not yet, I’ll try it in a minute.

Just email me with what you think.

After work, Wei and his friend Amy enter a restaurant and speak to the host. It’s 7 p.m. at night.

Good evening. How many?

Two, please.

Three, actually. Someone else is coming in a minute.

Oh, right, I forgot Jim was coming.

No problem. Please follow me.

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