6 British English Greetings For Strangers

What do British English speakers really say when they greet people they don't know?

Here are some common ways we talk and greet each other. (They're so common I heard them all in the space of an hour in my local town!)

Warning - You probably won't find these in any text book!

Darling

"Sorry darling!" This is something a delivery man said to me because he walked in front of me and I had to move out of the way.

You'll hear "darling" particularly from older people when they address younger people.

Men say it to women, and women say it to younger people. But men DON'T say it to other men, unless it's for a joke.

Sometimes it can be "creepy" . For example, if an older man says to a younger woman "All right darling" in an over-friendly way.

Listen to the pronunciation here:

Darling

Love

"Here you are my love!" This is what the barista in the coffee shop said to a woman (probably around the same age as him.)

"Love" and particularly "my love" are both very friendly ways to greet other people. You'll hear women say this to both other women and men; and men saying it to women. (But not from men to other men.)

Listen to the pronunciation here:

Love

Lovely

"Thanks lovely!"

"Lovely" is another friendly way to address both men and women.

Listen to the pronunciation here:

Lovely

My dear

"That's £8.10 my dear!"

"My dear" is another way of saying "my love".

The ONLY time I've ever heard a man address another man as "my dear" is in the old-fashioned expressions "my dear man" or "my dear fellow!" (If you say this, it will make you sound humorous.)

Listen to the pronunciation here:

My dear

Sir

"What can I get you sir?" This is what the barista said to a male customer.

We use "Sir" to male customers in shops, coffee bars, restaurants and so on.

Listen to the pronunciation here:

Sir

Mate

"Here you go mate!" ("Here you go" = "Here you are")

"Mate" is very common between men in more informal situations. It means "friend" and it's the equivalent of "love", "my dear", "darling" and "lovely".

Listen to the pronunciation here:

Mate

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6 British English Greetings For Strangers

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