Beginner English: Hello & Goodbye

There are many ways to say “hello” and “goodbye” in English, especially in informal conversation. Try out these phrases next time you’re practicing!


Hello / Hi / Hey

These are the most basic greetings. “Hey” is more informal. You might  hear the word “there” after any of these words: Hello there. Hi there. Hey there. 

How’s it going?  / How are you? / How are things?

People often greet others with these types of questions. It’s fine to respond “Good” or “I’m fine” or “Not bad.” For the most part, these questions are simply greetings; don’t go into detail about your day or give a lengthy explanation unless the person asks you.

What’s up?

This just means “What is happening with you / in your life?” Like the questions above, the questioner isn’t really looking for a lengthy explanation. It’s fine to respond with something like “Not much” or “Nothing new.”



Goodbye / Bye / Bye Bye / See you [later / soon].

The goodbyes are pretty simple and self-explanatory. “See you” (or “see you later” or “see you soon”) often ends up sounding like “ya” as in, “see ya.” You can also add polite phrases like “take care” or “good to see you” afterward as well.


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Vocabulary: Weddings!

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a lesson in a while. I’ve been busy with in-person English students…and beginning to plan my wedding! It isn’t until October, but it takes so much planning. It’s inspired me to post some wedding vocabulary for you!

Note: Below, I’ll use terms like “bride” and “groom” to refer to the woman and man (respectively) who are getting married, but of course, not all wedding couples are made up of a bride and groom.


reception (n.)

A (wedding) reception is a party held after a wedding ceremony for the friends and family of the bride and groom. Typically, a reception has food, drinks, and entertainment, and it is where the bride and groom have their first dance together as a married couple, and cut and serve their wedding cake.

Example: You’re invited to our reception! It will be after the ceremony and we’ll have a band.


wedding party (n.)

Sometimes this phrase is confused for the reception. But the “wedding party” is actually a group of people who stand up with the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony. It fluctuates from couple to couple — some couples just have two people in their wedding party (one person for the bride and one person for the groom), while others have five or six or more for both the bride and groom.

Example: I was in the wedding party for both of my sisters when they got married.


best man / maid of honor (n.)

The best man and the maid of honor are both members of the wedding party. The best man stands next to the groom at the ceremony and may be a family member or close friend. The maid of honor (or “matron of honor” if she is married) stands next to the bride at the ceremony. Both the best man and maid of honor symbolize support for the new couple, and can also help to organize events leading up to the wedding (like a wedding shower or bachelor / bachelorette parties).

Example: I was maid of honor for my best friend when she got married last year. I also planned her wedding shower.


fiancé / fiancée (n.)

That’s right, English doesn’t have its own words for two people who are engaged to be married to each other. Instead, English uses the French words “fiancé” for a man and “fiancée” for a woman who are going to marry each other.

Example: My fiancé is from Brazil. (This means: My husband-to-be is from Brazil.)


wedding shower (n.)

Like other events with “shower” in the name – like a baby shower – a wedding shower is about celebration of something that is coming. Family and friends unite to celebrate a couple before they are married. This can be a dinner or small party where people play games related to the couple or other celebratory activities. Not everyone has a wedding shower, and sometimes instead, the bride and groom have separate pre-wedding parties, like a bachelorette / bachelor party.

Example: We are having a wedding shower at my mom’s house one month before the wedding. It will be informal and we’ll have some refreshments.


to get / be engaged (ph. v.)

This is when one of the people in the couple proposes marriage to the other person. When talking about the proposal, you use “to get engaged”, and when talking about your state of being engaged, use “to be engaged.”

(to get engaged) We got engaged on the beach! He proposed in the sand.
(to be engaged) We are engaged now! It has been almost 6 months.


honeymoon (n.)

This is the vacation that a married couple takes after their wedding ceremony and reception. Sometimes this is directly after the wedding, and sometimes it is later. Typically, a honeymoon is a romantic destination.

Example: We are going to Hawaii for a week for our honeymoon! I can’t wait!

What about you? What are some other wedding-related words or phrases? What are some common wedding traditions in your culture?

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7 ways to improve your TOEFL score

Taking any test can be a nerve-wracking experience, but taking a test in a language other than your native one can cause you great anxiety – especially tests like the TOEFL or IELTS, which have a lot riding on them (meaning that many important things depend on succeeding with these tests).

Here are a few tips to help you with the TOEFL exam, as well as other important tests like it. A text version is below the video.

1. Find every opportunity to expand your English knowledge

Ok, this one is a “no-brainer” (meaning that it’s very obvious), but how to go about it might not be.

Part of your studying should be doing things like studying the actual test itself and learning good test-taking techniques.

But another part of your studying should be finding ways to use and explore English as much as you can. For example:

  • Take any class conducted in or about English, even if it’s not specifically directed to TOEFL,because:
    • Conversation or presentation classes will help you with the speaking portion of the test.
    • Grammar classes will help you improve your speaking and writing sections.
    • Academic skills classes will help you with test-taking skills, and tips about reading and writing.
  • Read English language books or magazines to expand your vocabulary.
  • Join online or in-person conversation partner programs to practice speaking English.

2. Learn as much as you can about the test in general

The TOEFL is administered by ETS, the Educational Testing Service, and they update the TOEFL Information Bulletin with the latest information. Find it at

3. Familiarize yourself with the test format and directions

Take practice tests so that you understand the design and style of the test, and are familiar with the directions as well as the time constraints. In addition, you’ll need to type your essays, so practice typing on a keyboard with an English layout if you aren’t already. You’ll record your speaking section on a microphone, so even practicing that will help you come test day.

4. Study efficiently

Of course you need to make time to study for the test. Studying consistently is more effective than “cramming” several hours into one day a week.

In addition, the 30-5-5 technique is great for studying:

  • 30 minutes of studying
  • 5-minute break
  • 5 minutes of reviewing what you studied in the first 30 minutes

5. Prepare your body and mind carefully in the days leading up to the test

This one might be obvious, too, but if you exhaust yourself studying, you won’t be in the best condition to take the test.

Be sure you are getting enough sleep, and try to reduce your stress as much as possible in the weeks before the test.

The night before the test, don’t plan any activities, and make sure you have all of your required documents ready.

On the day of the test, wear comfortable clothing, make sure you eat something healthy and nourishing before the test, and make sure you arrive at the testing location with plenty of time.

6. Use test time wisely

Don’t get stuck on any one item in the reading and listening sections. Since they are multiple choice, marking any answer works in your favor when you aren’t sure, rather than leaving it blank. Rather than making a random guess for difficult items, see if you can narrow down your choices. Guessing with one-in-two or one-in-three odds are much better than with one-in-four odds.

7. Combat test anxiety

You’re bound to be nervous during a test of this nature, but know that a little nervousness can make you more focused. However, if anxiety overcomes you, take a few seconds to take a couple of deep breaths and focus on your senses (what can you see, or hear right now?). This will help bring you into the moment and away from worrying about the outcome of the test.


These tips were inspired by “The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test” by Bruce Rogers, which is a fantastic resource for prospective TOEFL takers.

Would you like to study for the TOEFL exam with me? I use the book referenced in the link above and provide one-to-one or one-to-small group via online meetings. Email me at for more information.

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