English Language and Grammar: The difference between Hallo! Hullo! Hello?

Did you know that one of the most common English words actually has three meanings? And each of them is spelled differently?

The most common of the three today is the one we all use when answering the phone or meeting someone – ‘hello’.

But this really only dates from the invention of the telephone and particularly long distance calls. Up to that time, when you met someone, you would say ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’, according to the time of day.

But when phoning someone in a different time zone, your morning might be the other person’s afternoon. So a way around this was needed. The maritime greeting used from ship to ship ‘ahoy’ was a serious contender before common practice settled on the word we use today – ‘hello’.

The two other meanings - and spellings - of this word derive from the hunting field and from surprise. The rallying cry for when horse riders hunting foxes spotted the prey was a drawn out ‘hallooo!’. The spelling ‘hullo’ was used as an exclamation of surprise as in ‘Hullo! Where’s my bag gone?’

So now, whether answering the phone, fox hunting or experiencing surprise, you know the correct word – and how to spell it!

Our UK residential summer schools are geared towards improving your English language and grammar but also provide you with a summer of fun and friendship whilst speaking with your international course mates. Find out more about the different courses we offer on Our Courses page.

 4th April 2017 /    Alice /   Language & Grammar

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