Learn English with Music: In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young

One of the songs that I’ve found lately that has great <lyrics> is “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young, but I found it by the cover by Boyce Avenue.

You can listen to the original by Brett Young on YouTube or the cover by Boyce Avenue.

Learning English with music is so powerful! Not only is it fun, it helps you with so many things to improve your English.

  1. Pronunciation. It helps you soooo much with pronunciation since you’re listening to someone pronounce the words. Music is different because you can stretch or slam together the words with the music. But this helps you with pronunciation since you’re hearing words in a different situation. Also, the words blend together so you’re listening to how the words sound when they’re not pronounced very clearly.
  2. Rhythm. We all know that music has rhythm. Lots of rhythm. This helps you learn the rhythm of speaking English. You’ll know which words to emphasize and which words to not emphasize.
  3. Vocabulary. Music is full of vocabulary that is important, not only because they are words that most people use during their normal conversation, but also because it includes <slang>.

If you need more ideas of how to use music to learn English, check out my blog post Learning English with Music that includes a free worksheet to use with the music “Good Grief” by Bastille. Also, who likes 21 Pilots?

Instead of looking at vocabulary, let’s look at phrases from the lyrics.

“I almost said what’s on my mind

“On my mind” means that you’re thinking about something a lot, that it won’t leave your thoughts or your mind. It does NOT mean that something is sitting on your head.


  • You’ve been on my mind lately. (I’ve been thinking about you quite a bit lately.)
  • Why can’t you say what’s on your mind? (Why can’t you say what you’re thinking?)


“Baby I’m crazy ’bout you

When you’re crazy about something, it means that you like someone or something a lot.


  • I’m so crazy about you that I want to spend every day with you.
  • She’s so crazy about that chocolate ice cream.


“You had my heart a long, long time ago”

When someone has your heart, it means that you like someone romantically. It shows possession of your heart for someone else. You will do things you normally wouldn’t do because you like that person. (Or you can use it for an object as well.)


  • Chocolate ice cream has my heart.
  • Her husband had her heart from the very first moment she saw him.


“Girl it did me in

When something does you in or did you in, it means that it made you faint or stopped you. In the romantic sense, it means that someone makes you faint or weak because you like them.


  • She does me in every time she wears that dress.
  • It did me in when he looked at me that way.


“You’ve got all of me

When someone has everything of you, or has got all of you, it means that they possess everything of you. Romantically, you are theirs. You like them so much that they can have all of it.


  • He’s got all of me, holding nothing back.
  • I am yours, you’ve got all of me.


“Yeah you’re my everything

When someone is your everything, they mean so much to you. They mean everything to you. You can’t lose them.


  • My husband is my everything. I can’t live without him.
  • He said, “You’re my everything. Marry me.”


As you’ve probably noticed, this song is about a man expressing his love for a woman. Almost all of these phrases express love for someone. What other phrases do you know that express love for someone? Let me know in the comments!

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40th Birthday Party Traditions

My sister turns forty (40) years old this month!  In American culture, we often have a birthday party to celebrate the forty years lived. The year that you turn forty is a milestone, or an important event that marks many years lived and many more to come.

In these forty years, my sister was born, grew up, went to school, went to college, fell in love, fell out of love, traveled, went to graduate school, fell in love again, got married, bought a house, got a dog, taught Chinese, taught English, sold a house, bought another house, lived in over 10 states, and so much more.  My sister still has so many years to accomplish much more: teach more English, help students, make an impact on them, maybe sell and buy another house, travel more, and fall more in love.

Since it is such an important birthday to celebrate, many adults that don’t normally have a birthday party will often have one to celebrate their fortieth birthday! For these birthday parties, there are some American traditions that often happen, although a 40th birthday party does not have to have these traditions. These traditions joke or play with the idea that the person is closer to death than they were before. But remember – they are all jokes or teasing.

Let’s look at some of the traditions that Americans usually have at fortieth birthday parties.

The Color Black

Often the color black is used at fortieth birthday parties in relation to the idea that the person is closer to death. This can include black balloons, black napkins, black plates, or black decorations. Often people at the party may dress in black clothing as well.

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Over the Hill

“Over the hill” is a phrase that refers to the milestone or halfway point of life. At forty years, you are usually halfway through your life. The hill refers to the halfway point. Once you’re over the hill, you have passed the halfway point.

At parties, you may see decorations that refer to over the hill. People may tell the birthday person congratulations for getting over the hill.

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In the continued idea that the birthday person is closer to dying, decorations at the party may use cemeteries or headstones for graves. The decorations tease the birthday person even more that they’re close to dying, now that they’re forty years old.

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Mushy Foods

Mushy means something that is soft, that when you push with your finger or with a spoon, it gives way. It doesn’t resist the pressure. Mushy foods are often used at fortieth birthday party in order to tease the birthday person that they will lose their teeth soon. Since they won’t have teeth, they will have to eat foods that don’t require teeth for chewing or biting. Such foods may be mashed potatoes, bananas, pudding, or smoothies.

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Have you been to a fortieth birthday party? I can’t wait to see the pictures of my sister’s birthday party to see which American traditions they use!

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How to Choose an English Teacher

One of the hardest things to know how to do when learning a second language is knowing how to choose a teacher. There are so many people that teach English as a second language, in your home town and all over the world and online! How do you know which one will be best for you? How do you know which one won’t steal your money? How do you know which one will help you learn English the fastest?


While traveling, I’ve met other people that teach English as a second language. Some of them are great teachers and help many students learn to speak English fluently. And … some of them aren’t so great. Some of them hardly speak English fluently themselves and teach their students incorrect grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. If you happen to end up with a teacher that doesn’t speak English correctly or doesn’t know how to teach, you will waste your time, your money, and may actually move backwards in your progress to speak English fluently.

Although it is important to make sure that your teacher speaks English fluently, be careful with automatically assuming that a native English speaker will know how to be an English teacher. Many native English speakers think that they can be English teachers simply because they know how to speak English. But there is much more involved in qualifying to be an English teacher, such as knowing grammar and how to teach pronunciation and how to teach in general.

The following guidelines are basic requirements for an English teacher:

  • Speak English fluently
  • Completed some sort of training to be a teacher
  • Has studied English in some way
  • Loves to teach

In addition to the basic requirements, think about what is most important to you. Your priorities will help you choose the best fit of a teacher for you. Ask yourself the following questions in order to determine what is most important to you.

  • Do you want to learn at home (online learning) or in a classroom?
  • Do you want to learn from a textbook or from a more creative teaching style?
  • Do you prefer flexibility or rigidity?
  • Do you prefer classes with just yourself and the teacher? Or do you prefer a class with large amounts of students?
  • Are you a beginner student or a more advanced student?

Once you have your answers, try and find a teacher that meets your priorities and expectations.


Many teachers offer a trial period, which means that you can do lessons with a teacher for a short period of time in order to see if you like the teacher, if you get along with the teacher, and if the teacher’s teaching style works well with your learning style. This is a good idea to trial the teacher before committing to a long period of time with the new teacher.


It is also good to meet the teacher personally or via Skype or FaceTime in order to get to know your teacher before committing to a long period of time with the new teacher.

What kind of teacher do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

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Ways to Honor 9/11

When the kids in my class started leaving school during the middle of the day, we all knew that something was wrong.

And then our teacher opened up the large map in the front of the room and showed us where we lived and showed us where New York City was.

Even then I still didn’t understand completely. It wasn’t until both of my parents – my mom and my dad – showed up to pick me up from school that I started to understand what was going on.


I think everyone remembers where they were when they learned about the terrorism on September 11, 2001. It’s something that is impossible to forget. As the 16 year anniversary will happen in just a few days, I think it’s important to plan something to honor the memory of all those that suffered because of that day.

Hang a flag

Honor all that the American flag stands for, what the American ideals are, and remember all of that. think of ways that you can be better to embrace the American ideals in your personal life. Remind others of the same things by hanging an American flag where others may see.

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Go to a cemetery

Even though there may not be victims of 9/11 in your local cemetery, remembering everyone that has passed away is important and helps you remember all of those that gave their life protecting someone else.

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Spend time with family

Make sure that your family knows that they are important to you. Make new memories with them. Laugh and smile. Spending time with family will help you remember how important they are to you.

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Give service

Serve others. Help someone else. Make something for someone else. Listen to someone. Clean up someone’s yard or home. Plant flowers for someone. Giving service reminds you to think of other people and less of yourself.

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Even though it’s been 16 years, it will always be impossible to forget. Make it harder to forget and honor the memory of everyone that has protected the American dream.

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What other ways will you honor the memory of 9/11?

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  • Terrorism: use of violence to obtain political desires, usually violence against civilians
  • Anniversary: the date of which an event took place, remembering how many years have passed since the event
  • Flag: piece of fabric that represents the colors of a nation or country
  • Cemetery: the place where people are buried after they die
  • Service: selfless actions to help other people

Wedding Anniversary Traditions

In one week, my husband and I will celebrate our one year anniversary. We’ve been married one year! Or as my husband says, we’ve lasted a whole year! In American culture, it’s very common to celebrate wedding anniversaries every year. Celebrating one more year married is important!

For me and my husband, we are going to Los Angeles to celebrate our one year anniversary. We’re planning on spending lots of time at the beach, eating yummy food, and exploring the city!

For each year, normally couples celebrate their anniversaries by doing something special, maybe going on a date or going to a special restaurant. Since most people are married for more than just a couple of years, specific anniversaries have come to mean more than others. They act as milestones and therefore the traditions for these wedding anniversaries are a little bit different. The years that are special include: five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, twenty-five, thirty, forty, and fifty. For each of these, there is a traditional gift to give to each other or to buy together.

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One Year Anniversary

The tradition for a one year anniversary is to eat the cake top from your original wedding cake in order to provide good luck.

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Five Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the five year anniversary is made of wood. Gifts may include anything that is made of wood or even plants, such as a bonsai tree. The traditional flower to give for the fifth wedding anniversary is a daisy.


Ten Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the ten year anniversary is made of tin. Gifts may include anything that is made of tin, such as decorations something useful made of tin. The traditional flower to give for the tenth wedding anniversary is a daffodil.


Fifteen Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the fifteen year anniversary is made of crystal. Gifts may include anything that is made of crystal, such as decorations or a kitchen dish made of crystal. The traditional flower to give for the fifteenth wedding anniversary is a rose.

Twenty Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the twenty year anniversary is made of china. Gifts normally include a china dish set or an update to a preexisting china dish set. The traditional flower to give for the twentieth wedding anniversary is an aster.



Twenty-Five Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the twenty-five year anniversary is made of silver. Gifts normally include decorations or a special dish set made of silver. The traditional flower to give for the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is an iris.


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Thirty Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the thirty year anniversary is made of pearl. Gifts normally include jewelry with pearls or a decoration with pearl. The traditional flower to give for the thirtieth wedding anniversary is a lily.


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Forty Year Anniversary

The traditional gift for the forty year anniversary is made of ruby. Gifts normally include jewelry with a ruby. The traditional flower to give for the fortieth wedding anniversary is a gladiolus.


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Fifty Year Anniversary

And after making it fifty years, the traditional gift for the fifty year anniversary is made of gold. Gifts normally include jewelry made of gold. The traditional flower to give for the fiftieth wedding anniversary is a yellow rose.


As you may have noticed, as more years pass for the wedding anniversaries, the gifts become more and more expensive. In this sense, it signifies the time that the couple has spent together, the value that their relationship and how that value increases over time.

What do you do for your wedding anniversaries?

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Vocabulary Needed for This Article

  • Anniversary: the date that marks time since an event happened, as in a wedding, birthday, or the beginning of something important
  • Go on a date: when two people do something together with romantic intentions
  • Milestone: something that marks something significant or important


Learn English with Podcasts

Have you heard of podcasts? A podcast is like a radio show, but it’s recorded and released through iTunes. It’s absolutely free (!), and there are so many different topics to learn about. I love listening to podcasts since they talk about so many different topics. And you can pause it and start listening again later when you can.

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There are several reasons why listening to podcasts will help you learn English faster.

Practice listening

If you have trouble understanding what people say verbally, then podcasts will help you improve your ability to understand what people say. The more that your ears become used to hearing English, the more that you will understand. If you don’t practice listening to English, then you will never be able to understand people speaking English.

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Lots of different topics

There are sooo many topics available in the podcast library in iTunes. Whatever you’re interested in, you will find it. You can listen to people talk about the news, literature, music, movies, sports, and anything else! When you listen to something that you’re interested in, you’ll enjoy it more. And you’ll remember more of what they say.

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Pause it at any time and come back to it

If you have a normal busy day and don’t often have time to listen to a full hour length of podcasts, don’t worry. You can pause the podcast and it’ll save your place. Later, when you have time, you can come back to where you were and start listening again.


Slow it down or speed it up

One of the very cool things that you can do with podcasts is slow down the audio or speed up the audio. If you have a hard time understanding the English, slow it down so you can understand more. If you understand everything perfectly and want a challenge, you can speed it up to see how much you can understand.

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Go back 15 seconds to repeat

With a podcast, you can also go back 15 seconds. This is helpful if you didn’t understand something that was said. If you didn’t understand, you can go back 15 seconds and listen to it again.

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Try listening to these podcasts to start with!

These podcasts are specifically designed for people learning English.

  • All Ears English
  • The English We Speak
  • Happy English Podcast
  • The World in Words
  • That’s What They Say
  • Podcast – 5 Minute Language
  • Language Mastery
  • The Actual Fluency Podcast for Language Learners

I also recommend that you listen to podcasts that talk about a subject that you’re interested in or talk about the news in English. Especially if you’re interested in the topic, you’ll pay more attention and learn more.

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Listening to podcasts is a fun way to practice your listening in English and take one more step towards fluency!

What’s your favorite podcast?

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Culture Explained: Lake Parties

The first time I went to a lake for vacation was only two years ago. I went with a group of friends from college, and we went to a cabin near Yellowstone National Park. Even though it was a long drive to get there, the fun and relaxing couple of days we spent there was definitely worth it! When you’re at a cabin at the lake, it seems that time slows down a little bit and you feel life catch up with you. If you’re looking for a recharge, then go to the lake!

Going to the lake for vacation and staying in a cabin is a popular vacation for many Americans, with more frequency during the summer when it’s warmer. If you have friends that invite you to go to the cabin at the lake, then you’ll want to know about popular traditions and activities.

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Often families that have a cabin at the lake or go to the lake often have a boat to go out on the lake with. The size varies from person to person. Often they use the boat to do wake boarding or water skiing.

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A bonfire is when you make a large (safe) fire and sit around the fire, usually cooking hot dogs on the fire or making s’mores.


A BBQ is when you cook meat on a grill, often in the US hamburgers and hot dogs.

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When you’re at the lake, there are so many things to do. But many people sit on the area that is sort of like a beach. You can go swimming in the water. Or many people jump off of the dock.

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Paddle boarding

Paddle boarding is a new hobby where you stand on the paddle board with a paddle and move around in the lake. This is kind of like sitting in a boat but instead of sitting, you’re standing.

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Have you been to the lake? What’s your favorite thing to do?

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Culture Explained: Camping in the Summer

When I was a child, my family often went camping together. One summer, we drove from the east side of the United States to the west side, a trip that lasted over a week. Instead of staying in hotels every night, we camped every night. We spent every minute together and I have lots of memories of that family trip!

Many families go camping together, in the summer and in the winter if possible. It is a family tradition and an American tradition, allowing people to leave the city and sleep in the middle of nature.

Let’s look at some of the most common characteristics of camping to help you learn what camping is like, if you haven’t been.

Sleep in a tent

One of the most common characteristics of camping is sleeping in a tent. A tent is a small to medium shelter made of metal and fabric that is usually collapsible. Sleeping in a tent also includes sleeping on the ground, usually.

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Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is a fabric bag that is used for sleeping while camping in order to stay warm. Usually, if you have a sleeping bag, you don’t sleep on a bed. It is designed to decrease the amount of blankets required for sleeping.

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Make food over a fire

Since there is no refrigerator or stove or oven in the middle of nature, many families make their meals over a fire. The food is usually more simple but it is so fun to eat food that you’ve made over a fire.

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Eat s’mores

Camping is not real camping if there aren’t s’mores. S’mores are a type of food that is made of graham crackers, chocolate pieces, and melted marshmallows. You melt the marshmallows over the fire and then put your little sandwich together. With the hot marshmallow, the chocolate quickly melts as well and you’ll end up with marshmallow and chocolate all over your hands and face.

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When you go camping, you often stay close to hiking trails or beautiful places. Families go hiking together to see lakes, views, tops of mountains, or nature and animals.

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Outdoor bathroom / outhouse

When you sleep in the middle of a forest, there usually isn’t a bathroom. If you stay at a camping site, there may be an outhouse or an outdoor bathroom, which means there usually isn’t electricity. There’s only a toilet and sometimes toilet paper.

Star gazing

Another common activity while camping is star gazing. Star gazing is when you lay on the ground and look at the stars, which are usually very bright when you’re in the wilderness, since there aren’t any city lights nearby.

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Are you going camping soon? Where’s your favorite place to go camping?

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Vocabulary from the TV Show New Girl

You know that one TV show that you just watch over and over and over?

Yeah. That TV show for me is New Girl.

New Girl is about a girl named Jess (actress Zooey Deschanel) who moves into an apartment with four other guys. And the hilarious drama that ensues.

One of the funny parts in season four is when the apartment will be inspected and Jess remembers that she has a bag of <methamphetamine> and doesn’t want the inspector to find it. You can check out the YouTube clip at the bottom. But first, check out some vocabulary from the clip and see if you can pick out the words when you watch the clip.

Meth / Methamphetamine

  • Definition: a drug that you can get high off of (other words for <get high> include wasted, stoned, buzzed) and is <illegal> to use or sell
  • Example: You can go to jail for using or selling meth.


  • Definition: a type of food that is cooked in a specific iron to give it the “waffle” print. It’s typically eaten hot, with <syrup> or butter or jam on top.
  • Example: My sister loves to eat waffles on Sunday morning.



  • Definition: a type of furniture that is meant for you to rest your feet on top. (In the clip from New Girl, Jess points to the footstool that she got at a <garage sale> and opens on the top.)
  • Example: Her grandmother’s footstool was the best piece of furniture in the entire house.



  • Definition: a part of a house or apartment that is a small room or part in the wall that is meant for clothes or storage.
  • Example: The mom likes to hide her chocolate in the closet so her children don’t eat it.


Garage Sale

  • Definition: an event where someone sells their things that they don’t want anymore to random strangers, usually in their <driveway> or on their front <lawn> or in front of their house. The other word for <garage sale< is <yard sale>.
  • Example: We are going to visit some garage sales to find some toys for my dog.

garage sale

Now that you’ve got those words, watch the scene from New Girl and check out the other seasons on Netflix!


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Slang to Say Hello

When my husband first learned English in Brazil, he sat in a class with 30 other teenagers. His Brazilian teacher taught them the basics of English, including how to greet someone or the first thing you say when you see someone new. The word he was taught? “Hello!”

And that was the only word that he learned.

When he arrived in the United States, he quickly realized that rarely does an American always say “hello” to someone. There are several words and phrases that we use in English to greet someone, including the word “hello.”

Let’s look at 7 ways to greet someone in English.


This is probably the most common greeting for informal settings. When I see someone that I already know and want to greet, I say “hey.”

Example: “Hey Matt! How are you?”

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This is another common greeting that means the same thing as “hello” or “hey.” They are all interchangeable (you can switch them out equally).

Example: “Hi Matt! How are you?”

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This is a little bit more formal than “hey” or “hi” but means the same thing. I usually reserve “hello” for someone that I may not know very well or for a more formal situation. For example, I walk into a meeting at work and see someone that attends the meeting. I say, “Hello Chelsea. How are you?”

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How’s it goin’?

This greeting is super informal! You say this to a friend or someone that you know well. This phrase is a shortened version of the phrase “How is it going?”, asking how the person is or what they’re doing.

Example: “Scott, how’s it goin’?!”

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What’s up?

This greeting is the same as “How’s it goin’?” but varies per person. It is more common with younger people and is slang that comes from the 2000’s. It is a shortened version of the phrase “What is up?”, asking how the person is or what they’re doing.

Example: “Scott, what’s up?!”

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This word is spelled exactly how some people may say the greeting “hey”, extending it to sound longer. This greeting is informal and means the same thing as “hey” or “hi”.

Example: “Heya Molly!”

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This greeting is a little bit outdated (old or old-fashioned) and was more commonly used by cowboys. It means the same thing as “hello” but is more associated with cowboys or people from the country.

Example: “Howdy Johnny!”

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There are quite a few ways to greet someone, to say the same thing. Choose which one you like best or choose a couple and use them in different situations.

What other ways do you know for how to greet? Let me know in the comments!

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