Saying “Nice to meet you” in the wrong situations is a mistake that a lot of my English learner students make when speaking English. You tend to use “Nice to meet you” too much.
Actually, this common phrase is actually only ever used in one very specific situation — the very first time that you meet someone.
There is nothing wrong with saying “Nice to meet you” if and only if it is the very first time that you are meeting someone in person.
You could also say nice to meet you if you’re on the phone or if you’re having an online video call and the first time that you meet in person you can also say “Nice to meet you” in person.
I’ve noticed that many English learners overuse this sentence when speaking English. We don’t want to overuse it because it’s very unnatural and it can cause some confusion and make you a bit difficult to understand.
So let’s improve your English speaking today and take a look at some of the most common ways that English learners misuse this phrase and what you can say instead to correct your English to speak more naturally more like a native English speaker.
“Nice to Meet You” is Often Overused
(1) When you see someone you have met before.
— Hey nice to meet you teacher!
— But you’re in my class every day. What do you mean nice to meet me?
Instead of saying “nice to meet you” to someone who you’ve already met for the first time. You should say “It’s nice to see you.” You could say “It’s nice to see you again,” or “It’s great to see you,” or “It’s wonderful to see you again”
— Hey nice to see you again teacher.
— Oh, hello! It’s so nice to see you again, too.
(2) When you want to talk about past activities involving meeting someone after the first time.
— Yesterday I met my mother.
— Wow, that’s incredible that you finally met your mother for the first time. How was the experience?
When you say “I met my mother” without any other context clues, the person with whom you are speaking will automatically assume that it is the first time (linguistically). Obviously, they may check and ask for clarification since this is not an entirely logical sentence. However, linguistically the first thing a native speaker will think is that it is really the first time you are ever meeting your mother.
Let’s try again:
— Yesterday I got together with my mother.
— That’s nice! It’s always good to have family time.
(3) When you want to talk about future activities involving making plans to meet someone after the first time.
— This week I am going to meet my friends.
While a native English speaker would probably understand it, this sentence is not correct or very clear. A native English speaker would be left wondering what is happening.
Let’s try again:
— This week I am going to meet my friends at the library.
When we add a place and/or a time in our sentence, then it makes sense!
Note that we can use the verb “meet” (for situations besides meeting someone for the first time) as long as we include a time and a place.
Alternatives to “Nice to Meet You” After Meeting for the First Time
Don’t say “Nice to meet you” after meeting someone for the first time. Try these alternatives when you are meeting someone after the first time.
— (It is) Good to see you.
— (It is) Great to connect.
— (It is) Great to see you again.
Verbs to Use Instead of “Meet” to Talk About Past Actions when Speaking English
If you want to talk about the past do not use the verb “meet,” or “met” in the past. Try using verbs like “see,” “go out with,” “get together with,” or “spend time with.”
— Yesterday I saw my friends.
— Last weekend I went out with my friends.
— I got together with my friends.
— On Sunday I spent time with my friends.
Use “Meet Up” Instead of “Meet” to Talk About Future Plans when Speaking English
You can also use this to make plans for the future. Instead of saying “meet me tomorrow” or “let’s meet tomorrow,” it is more natural to say “let’s meet up tomorrow.”
We can use this phrasal verb a lot, for all types of future plans. But the plain verb to meet is only used for the first time you meet someone. You could also say I went out with the person but be careful because “to go out with” or in the past tense “went out with” is another way to say “dating” so if you’re not romantically involved with the person if it’s pretty clear that you wouldn’t be romantically involved with the person it’s fine. There will be no confusion.
Now that you know “to meet up with” can be used to make plans, you can see that little preposition makes a big difference in clarifying and to make it clear that you’re not talking about meeting someone for the first time.
This short little 2-letter preposition “up” will make a big difference in improving your English when you use it to talk about making plans with the phrasal verb “to meet up with.”
Prepositions can change verbs into phrasal verbs with completely different meanings. Click here to see a lesson about the Top 10 Phrasal Verbs for Speaking English Part 2.
Now you know that “Nice to meet you” is a sentence only for the first time you meet someone, and what to say instead when you see someone again, when you talk about “meeting” someone in the past and when you want to “meet” someone (after the first time) in the future! I hope this lesson will help you to be more correct and confident when speaking English!
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