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A greeting: it’s the first thing you’ll hear when you meet someone new or see a friend.

To help you feel comfortable and confident saying hello to people out and about, we have put together five common greetings and some ideas for how to use them in conversation.

When reading our suggestions for how these phrases work in conversation, please remember that these are just examples and ideas to get you started. You may hear many different ways of speaking in real life, and we hope you will enjoy finding words and phrases that you feel comfortable using yourself.

Greeting 1: Alright?

To some of you this may look like it’s barely a greeting at all, and yet it’s a very common thing for people to say to each other here – as well as in many other parts of the UK! A quick “alright?” when you meet someone is like a more informal “how are you?”

Here are some examples of different ways you may hear “alright?” being used.

What are they saying?

① Alright? (Meaning: are you alright? How are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Y’alright? (Meaning: are you alright? How are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ You alright? (Meaning: are you alright? How are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

How could I answer?

① Aye, I’m alright. (Meaning: yes, I’m alright.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Alright, ta. (Meaning: I’m alright, thanks.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ Nae bad, yourself? (Meaning: I’m okay, how about you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

④ No bad, yourself? (Meaning: I’m okay, how about you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

⑤ Nae bad, yersel? (Meaning: I’m okay, how about you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

⑥ No bad, yersel? (Meaning: I’m okay, how about you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

What might a conversation sound like?

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: You alright?How are you?
B: Yeah thanks, you?I’m well thanks, you?
A: Aye, I’m alright.Yeah, I’m well.

For many people, this is the kind of language they would use with friends or other people they know well. If you’re in Scotland, why not try listening to those around you to see how they use these phrases?

Greeting 2: How’s yerself?

Although this greeting may seem a little unusual to you if you’ve not heard it before, it’s actually just another informal way of asking “how are you?” As there is no standard spelling, you may see “yerself” written as “yourself” or “yersel”, which shows another common pronounciation.

What are they saying?

① How’s yerself? (Meaning: how are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② How’s yersel? (Meaning: how are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ How’s you? (Meaning: how are you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

How could I answer?

Because this question generally means “how are you?”, you can reply in whatever way you would usually answer that question, such as with one of the following:

① Good ta, you? (Meaning: good thanks, and you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Gid ta, yersel? (Meaning: good thanks, and you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ No, bad you? (Meaning: not bad, you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

④ Nae bad, yoursel? (Meaning: not bad, you?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

⑤ Aye, I’m good. (Meaning: yeah, I’m well.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

⑥ I’m guid ta. (Meaning: I’m good, thanks.)

You may notice that there are some different spellings of the word “good” in these examples. This is because different people will pronounce and spell it differently.

What might a conversation sound like?

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: How’s you?How are you?
B: Aye, no bad, how’s yourself?Not bad thanks, how are you?
A: Nae too bad either, thanks.I’m not bad either, thanks.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that while “how’s yourself?” is not a formal greeting, it would not be unusual to hear it used between people such as work colleagues. As a general rule of thumb, if you know someone well enough to say hi to them on the street, you probably know them well enough to greet them in this way. 

Also, be aware that it is fairly common to use this question as part of a reply to another greeting, such as in the above example. Try not to be surprised if someone replies to your greeting in this way.

Greeting 3: How are you keeping?

When faced with a question like this, your first instinct might be to wonder to yourself: “What does this person think I’m keeping?!” But don’t worry, this phrase doesn’t refer to a pet or plant. In fact, it is often used when seeing someone for the first time in a while.

What are they saying?

① How are you keeping? (Meaning: how have you been recently?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② How’ve you been keeping? (Meaning: how’ve (how have) you been recently?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ Are you keeping well? (Meaning: have you been well recently?)

More casually: You keeping well?

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

④ Are you keeping okay? (Meaning: have you been okay recently?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

More casually: You keeping okay?

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

How could I answer?

If someone asks one of the above questions, they are asking how things are in your life, for example with your health and home life. That being said, in general people are not looking for long answers. Some examples of how you could reply include: 

① I’m keeping well, thank you. (Meaning: I have been well recently, thank you.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Aye, I’ve been good. (Meaning: yeah, I’ve been well.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

③ Aye, nae/no bad. (Meaning: yeah, I’ve not been doing badly.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

How might a conversation sound?

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: Hey, it’s been weeks, how’ve you been keeping?Hi, it’s been weeks since we’ve seen each other, how have you been?
B: Aye, no too bad, can’t complain. Yourself?Yeah, not too bad, can’t complain. You?
A: Aye, I’ve been doing pretty good too ta.Yeah, I’ve been well too thanks.

It is worth bearing in mind that like “how’s yourself?” (or “how’s yoursel?”), this greeting could be used in situations which are both fairly formal and informal. Don’t be surprised therefore if you hear it from people you’ve only met a couple of times.

Greeting 4: You good?

Like “alright?”, this greeting is a short, snappy way of asking how you are. And also like that greeting, for many people it is more informal than something like “how are you?” Therefore, you might use this most often with friends.

What are they saying?

① You good? (Meaning: are you well?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Are ye gid? (Meaning: are you well?)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

How could I answer?

① Aye, I’m good. (Meaning: yeah, I’m well.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② Yeah, no bad. (Meaning: yeah, I’ve not been doing badly.)

③ Aye, thanks. (Meaning: yes I’m well, thanks.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

What might a conversation sound like?

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: Hey, how’s yourself? You good?Hey, how are you? Are you well?
B: Aye ta, nae bad. You?Yeah, thanks, not bad. You?
A: Aye, I’ve been alright.Yeah, I’ve been alright.

As well as being used as a greeting, “you good?” may also be used to check if someone is really okay. For example, if you see a friend looking upset or hurt, you could ask “you good?” or “you okay?” In these kinds of situations, the person answering the question might want to say more about how they are actually feeling. As always, a lot depends on the situation, and you will learn to recognise how “you good?” is being used the more you speak with other people.

Greeting 5: What’s the craic?

Okay, so being honest, we basically stole this one from Ireland. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t hear it in Scotland too.

“Craic” is a term which can refer to chat, gossip, news and other fun and frivolous conversations held between friends. So you can probably guess that “what’s the craic?” can be roughly translated to mean “what’s been going on?”, “what’s new with you?” or “what’s happening?” You may also hear “chat” used instead of “craic”, which means something very similar.

What are they saying?

① What’s the craic? (Meaning: see above.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

② What’s the chat? (Meaning: see above.)

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

These phrases are generally reserved for friends who know each other pretty well. For that reason, if asked to provide some “good craic” you’d usually be more than welcome to launch into a funny story or piece of gossip! But if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, then “not much, you?” would usually be an acceptable response.

How could I answer?

① Not much, you? (Meaning: not much has been happening with me, how about you?)

② No much, you? (Meaning: not much has been happening with me, how about you?)

Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

What might a conversation sound like?

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: Hey man, what’s the craic?Hey, what’s up?
B: No much, been a boring few days. You?Not much, the last few days have been boring. You?
A: Aye, same.Yeah, me too.

We hope this quick overview of Scottish greetings helped give you the confidence to start up conversations with Scottish people you know! If you can, listen out for these phrases next time you’re out and about, and try using one of them yourself if you can! Good luck, and have fun!

Want more daily conversational phrases? Click here.