Phrases to Say Hello and Goodbye

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Have you ever bumped into an old English-speaking friend or acquaintance and wondered whether you should say hello or run away before they see you just to avoid any painful awkwardness?

Running into old friends or former classmates and colleagues can be a wonderful opportunity to say hi and catch up with them, but it can also be intimidating if they only speak English and you’re not used to speaking the language.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of phrases that you can use the next time you see an old friend or familiar face!

There are quite a lot to choose from, so pick the ones you’re comfortable with and that sound natural to you.

You can listen to this episode of the My English Matters Podcast to hear how Madam Azimah says these phrases.


You can also listen to this session on SpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.


Here are six phrases you can choose from to greet someone:

  1. Hi there!
  2. Hey!
  3. Hello!
  4. Good morning / Morning.
  5. Good afternoon / Afternoon.
  6. Good evening / Evening.

You can use these phrases when you bump into an old friend:

  1. Hi! Aren’t you… [name of old friend]?
  2. [Name], is that really you?
  3. [Name], I don’t believe it! Is that really you?

These lines can help you approach someone you’re pretty sure you’ve met before:

  1. Hi, you look familiar. Haven’t we met before?
  2. Hi there. Could it be that we’ve met before?

After you greet someone, you can introduce yourself using these lines so that the person you’re speaking to isn’t left trying to guess who you are:

It’s me, [your name].

You can also help jog their memory by providing some context, i.e. where you two met before:

  • I’m your former classmate from [name of school/university].
  • We were in English Camp together.
  • We were at university together.
  • The last time we met was in/at [place]!

You could then go on to mention how long it’s been since you both last met.

  1. It’s been ages!
  2. It’s been so long!
  3. It’s been such a long time!


If you’re comfortable, you can pay the other person a compliment. However, make sure you’re sincere when you do so! Don’t say anything you don’t mean, and perhaps more importantly, don’t say anything at all about their looks if you don’t have anything nice to say.

Here are some nice phrases you can use: 

  1. You look good!
  2. You look great!
  3. You haven’t aged at all!
  4. You’ve hardly changed!
  5. You haven’t changed a bit!
  6. You look exactly the same!


Here are some lines you should NOT say, as they can come across insulting:

  1. You’ve put on weight!
  2. What happened to you?
  3. You look chubby!
  4. You used to be so thin. Now look at you!
  5. You look so different; I almost didn’t recognise you!

Next, you can catch up and update each other on what’s been going on in your lives since you two last met.

Here are some questions you can ask them:

  1. What have you been up to?
  2. How have you been?
  3. How’s everything going?
  4. How are things going?
  5. How’s it going?
  6. How is everything?
  7. How’s things?

    (A colloquial variant of “how are things,” used as a friendly greeting.)

  8. So, how’s life been treating you?
  9. So, what’s the story?

After catching up, you can end the conversation using these following phrases:

  1. It was nice seeing you.
  2. It was great to see you again.
  3. I really enjoyed seeing you again.
  4. I’m so glad we ran into each other.
  5. It’s been good talking to you.
  6. It was a pleasure talking to you.

You can use the following phrases once the conversation has ended and the both of you are ready to go your separate ways once more:

  1. Take care!
  2. Take it easy!
  3. Catch you later!
  4. Catch you another time!
  5. Until we meet again.
  6. See you around/later/then.
  7. See you!
  8. Bye!


As I mentioned before, there are quite a few phrases you can choose from, so practise saying each one, and memorise the ones you like and that sound natural to you.

I hope that these phrases can help you reconnect with old friends and familiar faces! Until then, take care!

Do you want to speak English with confidence?

Sign up to join our free video training, Speaking with Confidence. We’ll send you seven tips to your email address!

Here’s Tip 1 for a sneak peek of what’s in store for you.

Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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