How to Make a Great First Impression in English

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  • #6115
    Learn English 2Sophia

    Making a great first impression in English is very important as you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

    The beauty of first impressions is that we already know 3 things that are going to happen in the conversation, a greeting/hello, an introduction, and a goodbye/farewell.


    As most of you have probably learnt, the most commonly taught way to greet someone is

    • “Hi, How are you?”
    • “Fine thanks, and you?”
    • “Good, thanks for asking.”

    This phrase is 100% correct, and probably used 100% of the time by English learners. But doesn’t that get a little boring after a while? If you want to diversify your greetings a little bit, and make it sound more fluent, leave those text books in the classroom, there is another way. How does this sound.

    • “Hey buddy! What have you been UP TO?”
    • “Oh hey Dude! Not too much, just working and hanging out with my girlfriend.”
    • “Sweet.”

    That sounds a lot more natural right? So, what does UP TO mean?

    The expression up to is a synonym of do. We use this in spoken English because as it’s more of an informal expression. When I greet someone with the question “what have you been up to?” I am asking them what have they been DOING recently.

    The question is in the present perfect continuous so you will answer with the verb in the continuous. For example:

    • “Hey mate, what have you been up to?”
    • “Ah, the same old, studying, surfing, going out, having some drinks with friends.”
    • “Have you been playing guitar?”
    • “yeah I’ve been playing a few times a week.”
    • “You been watching the football?”
    • “Nah, I don’t really like watching football.”

    You’ll notice that’s its very common for a native speaker to use the present perfect continuous like this when greeting a buddy. When a person greets me this way the conversation seems to flow a lot more, and it allows us to summarize all the recent news very quickly and concisely.

    Ice breakers/Introductions

    When introducing yourself in another language people are always going to want to know the same information.

    People are always going to ask you these same three questions,

    • What’s your name? (you’re probably going to have to repeat it a couple of times or make it sound more English)
    • Where are you from? (be prepared to describe you city geographically)
    • What are you doing here? (People are always curious)

    Another good way to make a good first impression is to get that person talking about themselves or their city. This can be done during the introduction phase as a way of breaking the ice.

    • So, where are you from?
    • Is your family from here/there?
    • What did you think of the soccer last night?
    • What do you think of this place/the beer/the music here?
    • Don’t you just hate waiting in line/this music/the noise?

    The whole idea of these ice-breakers is to get the other person talking while you simply sit back and listen. Sure, your probably thinking that this is a very impersonal exercise, but the purpose of this is to give yourself more confidence when approaching people in English. After doing this enough times, you’ll see that it starts to become a very easy and natural process and in no time you’ll be expanding your fluent first impressions to fluent everything.


    No matter what the language is, we always have to say goodbye. But don’t you want to know how to express yourself and show that you really appreciated that person’s company? Sometimes in a second language it’s a little hard to do that from the heart.

    I really love saying goodbye to people in Portuguese, as bad as that sounds, because there are so many cool, friendly expressions. Some of these words don’t exist or they would never be used in English for example, “some nao” or the word “saudades.”There are other expressions you can use in English which may not have the same meaning, but can be used in an endearing way nonetheless. For example:

    • It was really great to see you, catch you later.
    • It has been a pleasure, we’ll speak soon.
    • It was nice talking to ya, have a good one.
    • Take care/ take it easy, see you soon.
    • Keep in touch (when you don’t see the person very often)
    • I’m looking forward to seeing you soon
    • See you next time.
    • May the force be with you. (Used by Star Wars nerds)

    In all of these situations I’ve explained, I’ve given you a scenario of what is most likely to happen. Think of it as if you were an actor performing in a play. Whether it’s an introduction, greeting or goodbye, we know what questions are going to be asked and with a little thought beforehand, you can really make yourself sound fluent and give a great first impression.


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