Hi vs Hi There: What’s the Difference?

Wondering what's the difference between "hi" vs "hi there"? Let the English Forward team walk you through different uses...

Matthew Hamel Written by Matthew Hamel · 2 min read >

The English language is continuously getting enriched with new phrases every day, in particular, hi vs hi there. While most of these phrases are grammatically correct, some of them are only used in certain forms of communication. Some of these phrases are too formal, while others are too informal. There are neutral ones you can say them in any setup.

Getting back to hi vs hi there, these are typical English expressions that are used on a daily basis. These words are simple greetings. Although you can say them interchangeably, there might be a slight difference between them. Let’s dive further and see how you can utilize the two greeting phrases and when to say what.

When to use hi vs hi there

To answer this question, you must first understand what each of these terms means and the difference between them.

Hi is a simple greeting that shortens the question; how are you?.

To answer a greeting that starts with a question, say, for example, how do you do? or how are you over there? requires you to share more details. To shorten all that, folks prefer using this short greeting. It is often occurring in informal English conversations between friends, colleagues, family, and partners.

The formal alternative is to say hello. Nevertheless, hello can be said in both formal and informal communication when someone wants you to share how you’re doing.

Hi there, on the other hand, is an alternative informal greeting to hi. It’s preferred because it sounds friendlier and informal. The term has now been appended to a casual greeting exclamation of Hi there! to seek attention or show a cordial expression.

Hi there can also be taken as a short form of “Hey over there.” In this regard, therefore, it is assumed that you’re passing greetings to someone at a distance. The distance could be physical in the same room or over the phone.

You can also say hi, there to show that you’re sure of where the person you’re conversing with is at.

It is also correct English to respond to a “Hi there!” greeting with simply a “Hi.”

Notable examples

We particularly say hi when addressing almost any person, including strangers, but hi there adds some humor to it and is indicative of a warm greeting.

See examples in the sentence is as shown below:

  • Hi, there buddy, how is the weekend over there?
  • Hi Mark, are we still meeting up tomorrow?
  • Hi, can you pass me the book?
  • Hi, there stranger, can I ask you for some direction?
  • Hi there across the room, what’s the time by your wristwatch?

Hi vs hi there, which is better?

In English grammar, when considering hi vs hi there, the majority of professional English speakers would agree that both phrases are grammatically correct. The question regarding the better English greeting depends entirely on the common everyday use in the conversation between you and the person you’re communicating with.

Regardless, most people feel hi is a common English word we can use whenever we meet someone we know. Hi there is a popular one because you can use it with anyone whether you knew them previously or not. When you say hi, it might come off like too abrupt, which is why most folks would rather use hi there.

You can try using these English words to answer greetings when communicating in informal setups. If your senior colleagues offer a greeting and seek to know how you are doing, they might feel like you’re too casual with them if you answer with a simple hey or similar phrases.

It is recommended to answer with a hello and also ask a question about their well-being. In this way, you will avoid the confusion of using hi informal greetings. Now that you know the difference of hi vs hi there, go on and use them.

Written by Matthew Hamel
Matt has spent over a decade in international and ESL education both as a teacher and instructional designer. In addition to classroom and online teaching experience, Matt has written hundreds of lessons and articles about English with an emphasis on ESL learners. Profile
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