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British Life, Culture and Customs

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Greeting Etiquette in Britain (UK)

How to Greet someone in Britain

The Handshake

A handshake is the most common form of greeting among the English and British people and is customary when you are introduced to somebody new.

The Kiss

It is only when you meet friends, whom you haven't seen for a long time, that you would kiss the cheek of the opposite sex. In Britain one kiss is generally enough.

Formal greetings

The usual formal greeting is a 'How do you do?' and a firm handshake, but with a lighter touch between men and women.

‘How do you do?’ is a greeting not a question and the correct response is to repeat ‘How do you do?' You say this when shaking hands with someone.

First person "How do you do?"
Second person " How do you do?"

'How are you?' is a question and the most common and polite response is "I am fine thank you and you?"

First person "How are you?"
Second person "I am fine thank you and you?"

Nice to meet you – Nice to meet you too. (Often said whilst shaking hands)

Delighted to meet you– Delighted to meet you too.

Pleased to meet you – Pleased to meet you too. .

Glad to meet you - Glad to meet you too

Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Evening

Informal greetings

Hi - Hi or hello

Morning / Afternoon / Evening ( We drop the word 'Good' in informal situations).

How's you? - Fine thanks. You?

Thank you / thanks / cheers

We sometime say 'cheers' instead of thank you. You may hear 'cheers' said instead of 'good bye', what we are really saying is 'thanks and bye'.

For other words visit our British and American Words page.

For more information about manners and etiquette:

Visit Social Customs and Dos and Don’ts in Britain

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