Difference Wiki

Hi vs. Hello: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 11, 2023
"Hi" is informal and friendly, while "Hello" is formal and polite; both are greetings but differ in tone and context.

Key Differences

"Hi" is a casual, often more intimate greeting used among friends, colleagues, or people of the same age or familiarity level. "Hello," however, is a more formal or neutral form of salutation, acceptable in almost any situation, especially with strangers or in a professional setting.
"Hi" tends to be more colloquial and can convey a sense of warmth and friendliness, making it suitable for relaxed or familiar environments. "Hello" is versatile, used when answering the phone, meeting someone for the first time, or even as a question, indicating a standard way to initiate communication without assuming a level of intimacy.
In written communication, "Hi" is often used in informal settings, such as texts or emails between friends. In contrast, "Hello" is preferred in formal correspondence, including business emails or letters, where professionalism or a polite distance is maintained.
"Hi" can sometimes be perceived as overly casual or familiar when used in certain contexts, possibly leading to a perception of disrespect or lack of professionalism. "Hello," being more neutral, is generally safer in unknown or diverse social situations, reducing the risk of misunderstanding or offense.
Both "Hi" and "Hello" serve as crucial tools in social interaction, signaling a willingness to engage or acknowledge the presence of others. They differ primarily in the level of formality and the context in which they are most appropriately used.

Comparison Chart



Usage Context

Friends, casual settings
Professional settings, strangers


Friendly, warm
Polite, standard

Spoken Length

Slightly longer

Written Correspondence

Casual emails, texts
Formal letters, professional emails

Hi and Hello Definitions


An informal greeting.
Hi, it's great to see you again!


Used to answer the telephone.
Hello, this is John speaking.


Can be used to express surprise.
Hi, what a pleasant surprise!


Can express surprise or interest.
Hello, what do we have here?


Used to attract attention.
Hi, can you help me here?


Indicates the beginning of a communication.
Hello, could I have a moment of your time?


Used to express greeting. See Note at hey.


Used to attract attention.
Hello, could I ask for some assistance?


A friendly, informal, casual greeting said upon someone's arrival.
Hi, how are you?
I just dropped by to say “hi”.


Used to greet someone, answer the telephone, or express surprise.


An exclamation to call attention.


A calling or greeting of "hello."


(dated) Expressing wonder or derision.


To call "hello."


The word "hi" used as a greeting.
I didn't even get a hi.


A greeting (salutation) said when meeting someone or acknowledging someone’s arrival or presence.
Hello, everyone.


Informal spelling of high, often in hyphenated terms.
Get hi-quality videos here!


A greeting used when answering the telephone.
Hello? How may I help you?


An expression of greeting;
Every morning they exchanged polite hellos


A call for response if it is not clear if anyone is present or listening, or if a telephone conversation may have been disconnected.
Hello? Is anyone there?


A state in the United States in the central Pacific on the Hawaiian Islands


(colloquial) Used sarcastically to imply that the person addressed has done something the speaker considers to be foolish, or missed something that should have been obvious.
You just tried to start your car with your cell phone. Hello?


A friendly exclamation to greet someone.
Hi there, long time no see!


An expression of puzzlement or discovery.
Hello! What’s going on here?


Used to acknowledge someone's presence.
Hi, I didn't see you there!


"Hello!" or an equivalent greeting.


(transitive) To greet with "hello".


An exclamation used as a greeting, to call attention, as an exclamation of surprise, or to encourage one. This variant of Halloo and Holloo has become the dominant form. In the United States, it is the most common greeting used in answering a telephone.


An expression of greeting;
Every morning they exchanged polite hellos


A formal or polite greeting.
Hello, it's a pleasure to meet you.


Can "Hello" be used to answer the phone?

Yes, "Hello" is commonly used to answer phone calls.

Can "Hi" and "Hello" be used interchangeably?

Generally, yes, but "Hi" is more casual, while "Hello" is more formal.

Is "Hi" too informal for emails?

For business emails, "Hello" or another formal greeting might be more appropriate.

Does "Hello" have multiple meanings?

Besides a greeting, it's also used to express surprise or to get attention.

Is "Hi" appropriate for business meetings?

It depends on the company culture; "Hello" is usually safer in formal settings.

Can "Hi" be used with strangers?

It can, but "Hello" is often considered more polite and formal.

Is "Hi" common in all English-speaking countries?

Yes, "Hi" is widely understood and used as a casual greeting.

Can "Hello" be seen as outdated?

Not really, it remains a standard, versatile greeting.

Does the context affect "Hi" vs "Hello"?

Absolutely, context heavily influences which greeting is more appropriate.

Is "Hi" slang?

It's informal but not considered slang.

Can "Hi" be used in formal writing?

Generally, no, "Hello" or other formal greetings are preferred.

Why is "Hello" used in customer service?

It's formal and universally understood, making it professional and polite.

Are there variations of "Hi"?

Yes, like "Hiya" or "Hey," which are even more casual.

Is "Hi" acceptable in texts?

Yes, "Hi" is common and acceptable in text messages.

Can "Hello" start a conversation?

Yes, it's a common way to initiate a dialogue.

What's the difference in friendliness between "Hi" and "Hello"?

"Hi" often feels warmer and friendlier, while "Hello" is polite and neutral.

How did "Hello" become a phone greeting?

Thomas Edison encouraged its use during the early days of telephones.

Is "Hi" used in written communication?

Yes, often in informal contexts like texts or casual emails.

Does "Hello" imply a desire to engage?

Typically, yes, it shows openness to communication.

What's a formal alternative to "Hello"?

"Good [morning/afternoon/evening]" based on the time of day.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons