Hello and Goodbye - Greetings in English

Hello and Goodbye – Greetings in English

Have you ever wondered which greetings are appropriate in which situations?
Have you ever wondered where the words hello and goodbye come from?
How do people greet each other in other countries?
The answers to these and many other questions are in this podcast.


Hello. Hi. G`day. Howdy. What`s up? Yo.

It`s important to start and finish a conversation in the right way.

Does it matter if you say “Hello” or “Hi” or Howdy?

In today`s podcast we are going to look at the origin of the terms we use today to say hello and goodbye. When and why people started using them.

But first I have a question for you: People say that the word “hello” became popular because of which invention….

  • The television
  • The telephone
  • The refrigerator.

Answer at the end of this podcast.

You can start a conversation in many different ways.

Sometimes people ask me in what situation it is right to say HI or HELLO.

Hi is more relaxed and informal than Hello. You say HI to your friends and family and HELLO to people you know less, but there are no real fixed rules. Intonation is very important. If you are in a formal setting and you greet someone you don`t know with HELLO but using unfriendly tone of voice “HELLO” this can be rude.. Equally if you greet an older person with HI but like this “HI, this would be appropriate.

G`day is popular in Australia – it means good day.

Howdy is used mainly by people in the south west of the USA – especially Texas. If you use this some people might laugh because they will think you are a cowboy.

Traditionally in many countries people often shake hands when they greet each other. Of course, this is much more dangerous these days because of covid 19.

So why don`t we look at other greetings around the world and decide which of these we could use until the end of the pandemic?
But, pay attention there might be some new words.

Tibet: stick out your tongue to say hello. An ancient 9th century king called Lang Darma was famous for being cruel and for having a black tongue. So Tibetan monks like to stick out their tongues to show that they are not his reincarnation.

Zimbabwe and Mozambique: clap your hands to say hello. In these countries, the first person claps once. The second replies by clapping twice. Be careful – women must clap with their fingers and hands at an angle. Men clap with their palms aligned.

Malaysia: put your hand on your heart to say hello. In this country after lightly holding the other person`s right hand you put your own hand over your heart and bow to show respect.

Before taking a vote to see which greeting you like the most let`s check if you have understood the following words.

Listen carefully: cruel – monks – reincarnation – clap – palms – heart – bow

Cruel is the opposite of nice, when you are not nice to people: for example if you see a child in the street eating an ice-cream and you steal the ice-cream, that is cruel

Monks are men who live in a religious community, not to be confused with monkeys…

Reincarnation is what some people believe happens after you die, you return to the earth as a different person

Clap is to hit your hands together to make a noise, sometimes done because you appreciate what somebody has done

Palms are the part of your hand in the center

The heart is the organ that controls the flow of blood around your body

Bow is to move your body from the waist upwards down to show respect

I personally like the Malaysian greeting. But be careful with the Tibetan greeting because if you stick your tongue out – in some countries this is very rude.

So much for saying hello – what about Good Bye. And what does good bye mean?

Good bye is an abbreviation of God be with you. You can shorten this to Bye or just say see you. Farewell is a nice and formal way to say goodbye.

In Russia there are 2 traditions that are related to saying good bye.

Which of these three is not true?

  • In Russia when someone leaves your house you must not clean up their room until a day has passed as this will upset their energy.
  • In Russia you must always give somebody money when you say goodbye to them.
  • In Russia, before you leave your house you must sit in silence for 1 minute.

I like all if these but in fact just the first and third are true. Don’t worry, if you are in Russia you don`t need to give people money when you say goodbye.

Before I say goodbye let`s sit in silence for one minute – no, sorry let`s go back to my initial question.

People say that the word “hello” became popular because of which invention….

  • The television
  • The telephone
  • The refrigerator.

The correct answer is… the telephone.

Two famous inventors were involved in inventing the telephone Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edisson. Mr Bell wanted people to say “ahoy” when answering the phone. Mr Edission suggested “hello”. As we know now, it was Mr Edisson`s suggestion which was more popular and since then – the word hello has become one of the most popular words in the English language.

Farewell. Good bye. See you