Hello / Hi / Hey

Brave Heart

Senior Member
Japan, Japanese
Hi

I understand younger generation in the US often use "Hey" as a casual way of saying Hello.

Is "Hey" a bit more casual than "Hi"? or are they almost interchangeable?

In addition, is "Hey" often used in the UK too as a casual way of saying Hello?

Thanks :)
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi

    I understand younger generation in the US often use "Hey" as a casual way of saying Hello.

    Is "Hey" a bit more casual than "Hi"? or are they almost interchangeable?

    In addition, is "Hey" often used in the UK too as a casual way of saying Hello?

    Thanks :)
    I can only speak for the UK.

    Hey is used but not very commonly, and when it is used people often add a there: 'Hey there!'
     

    SweetSoulSister

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, I think it is definitely more informal.
    "Hey you" -- I say this often as a greeting.
    "Hey what's going on/how's it going" -- Also normal around California.
    :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I think it is definitely more informal.
    "Hey you" -- I say this often as a greeting.
    "Hey what's going on/how's it going" -- Also normal around California.
    :)
    That's very interesting. 'Hey you' is what policemen say in the UK when they see the robber climbing over the wall with a bag marked SWAG. It's admonitory and distinctly aggressive.
     

    tomatico

    Senior Member
    English, US
    Hi Brave Heart. You know, when I saw 'Hey you' as a suggested way to say hello, I also immediately thought what Thomas wrote: that it is an admonitory and aggressive way to call to someone.

    However, when I think about what greetings I commonly hear, I recall people saying something like: 'Hey you, how are you these days?' (with the emphasis on you) in a very friendly and warm tone. I guess it is all in the delivery.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thank you guys for your help. :)

    Hi, James. I sort of wanted to see the long answer too. :)
    Well, I guess it depends on circumstances and on tone of voice. It's very common for my 16-year-old son to say, "hey!" to a friend rather than "hi!" "Hi!" would sound a little distant, I think, between friends of his age. He wouldn't say "hey!" as a greeting to his grandmother, though; that would be rude. He says, "hey" to me all the time and I don't think it's disrespectful. If he were meeting someone not his age for the first time, I don't think he'd say "hey!" He'd be more likely to say "hi!" or "hello!" in that situation.

    As you can see, it's complicated. :)
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I watched a Canadian and he said he has NEVER used 'hello' in his entire life as a form of greeting. He uses 'hello' when answering the phone only. He said he would say 'Hi' even to the Queen of England or the president of any country. Is it just him or doesn't AE/CE use 'hello' that course books teach learners to use in such situations? As I can imagine, a BE speaker would say 'hello' to the Queen, right?

    33565
     
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    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's only convention, or protocol, that stops someone from saying 'hello' or 'hi' to the queen, rather than 'ma'am'. Depending on her mood at the time and the situation in which he said it to her, the queen would either accept it with a gracious smile, and or forgive him, or have him locked away in the Tower of London never to be seen rf heard of again.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I use 'hello' or 'It's a pleasure to meet you' or something like that if I'm meeting someone for the first time.
    If I see someone I know well for the first time in the day, I often will say 'good morning' or 'good afternoon.'
    I use 'hi' more than 'hey' to my relatives and friends who are roughly my age, and 'hello' or 'hi there' (but never 'hey') to friends and relatives of my parents' generation.
    I use 'hey' more than 'hi' to my relatives and friends in the generation younger than me (and also to their children).

    Fortinately I have an elaborate genealogy in my head so I know who is in which generation. :)
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I suppose when I am talking in a normal speaking voice face to face, or within about 15-18 feet/4-5 meters, I personally would not use 'hi there.'
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Canadian use is hi or hello, depending on formality. Hey sounds like an Americanism. We understand it but it is not local idiom.
     

    Mesud

    Member
    Azerbaijan
    [This question and the following posts have been added to a previous thread covering the same topic. Please read down from the top. DonnyB - moderator]

    Hello there hi there hey /hey there
    Are these polite
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I wouldn't call "hey" a dialect term in BE. It's pretty widely used, but perhaps in different ways by different people.
    Neither would I. I don't use it but to me it's equivalent to the informal greeting 'Hi, there' as regards register. Of course, as KB says, ican be used differently, to attract someone's attention.
    Hey is dialect. Hi is idiomatic. Hello is formal.
    'Hello' isn't formal in BE.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hey there is most often used to attract attention; it's not a usual greeting. Use it in a loud voice when you see somebody many yards away, who is not looking at you.
    Annoyingly (to me) it seems to be one of various stacks of "hey" adopted by many of the younger AE set.:mad:
    (I was brought up with the aphorism "Hey is for horses.")
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Annoyingly (to me) it seems to be one of various stacks of "hey" adopted by many of the younger AE set.:mad:
    (I was brought up with the aphorism "Hey is for horses.")
    Your family obviously wasn't aware of the Cockney Alphabet:
    'Ay (A) is for 'orses.:D

    And yes, I've noticed 'Hey' being used a lot to as a greeting by the younger generation in London too, of late.

    Edit. If I'd said "Hey!" to my mother it would have triggered one of her classic responses: "Who do you think you're talking to? The cat??"
     
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