English Greetings

                                       “Top of the morning to you!”

is a greeting that Irish people never use, unless they are American with an Irish great-great-great-great grandmother.   But we do ask on a daily basis:  “How are you?” or a long number of variations:

‘How’s it going?’  (How’s it goin’)

‘How are you doing?’ (Howrya doin’)

‘What’s up?’ (Whatsup. Can you see where the app comes from now?)

“How’s she cutting?” (From Kerry)

And my favourite Dublin greeting (said in a rich masculine grunt): “Story?”

And the answer to these questions about your health and well-being?  “Fine”, always “fine.”  Because unless the person looks deeply into your eyes and changes their tone to: caring and concerned, they do not actually care!

 “How are you?” And all its variations, are greetings not questions.

This is often not understood by non-native-speakers who start to answer the question:

“Well I’m a bit tired, didn’t sleep well last night because of the party next door and my sore toe which I banged into a lamppost yesterday and it’s quite swollen now, I hope it’s not infected…”


When we ask you “How you are?” it is just a greeting: it means “Hello” and when you ask it, it is fine to keep on walking…

Your response (which may not be heard by a greeter who has kept on walking) should be positive:

“Fine, thanks!’”

Positive and polite: “Fine, thanks and you?”

Or: “Grand!” (Very Irish)

“Good!” (American)

“Not bad”

And the response to: “Story?” ?


And all of these responses mean: “Hello, to you too!”

So, “Have a nice day!” “See ya!”


Author: janie lazar

Janie Lazar is at heart a ChangeMaker. As a qualified Executive and Personal Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Speaker and Writer, her work with professionals has a focus on Communication, specialising in working with senior management and in particular with those whose first language is NOT English. With Andrea Goldman in 2016, Janie piloted workshops to evaluate the needs of international professionals working in Ireland, resulting in an Integrated Approach to Professional Development for non-native English Speakers in the Workplace.

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