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Dawei3

Use of Meet versus See

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Dawei3

Since many of those who post to this forum teach English either formally in schools or informally to friends and we have native English speakers from multiple countries, I wanted to ask a question about using “meet” versus “see.”  I’m asking this because using “meet” instead of “see” is one of the most common errors I’ve seen in Chinese speaking English.  However, I wanted to check to see if this is just my American perspective:   

 

In American English, "meet" is used the first time you meet someone:  “It's nice to meet you.”  “I’m looking forward to meeting you.”  Subsequently, to someone you already know you say: “I’m looking forward to seeing you.”  Or “It's nice to see you.”   

 

For someone you already know, the only time “meet” would be used regards time and/or location, i.e., “I’ll meet you tomorrow at 2 at the café.”  For someone you know only by email/phone,

you could say “I’m looking forward to meeting you in person.”

 

In contrast, when speaking English, Chinese friends & colleagues who know me will often say “it’s nice to meet you.” (but I already know them).

 

My question to you:  In other English speaking countries, is the use of “meet” and “see” the same as the American usage described above?  I heard an Irish colleague use “meet” when I would have used “see,” but this was just one time and I didn’t have a chance to ask him about it.  Hence my question to all of you.    

 

(I understand why Chinese would often say "meet" since it's equivalent to 见).  

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imron

I'm Australian and agree with you on the difference between 'meet' and 'see', and agree that Chinese people often use 'meet' incorrectly.

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DavyJonesLocker
8 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

In American English, "meet" is used the first time you meet someone:  “It's nice to meet you.”  “I’m looking forward to meeting you.”  Subsequently, to someone you already know you say: “I’m looking forward to seeing you.”  Or “It's nice to see you.”   

 

I'd use meet even after knowing that person.Depends on context though

E.g I can't make it today as I'm meeting my mother for a coffee. Id use it rather than "see"

.

"See" also has the usage for dating whereas meet doesn't necessarily fit "are you seeing someone at the moment? 

 

In you example you wouldn't say "nice to meet you" if you already know that person. 

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mouse

I'm English and also broadly agree with your general rule.

 

However,

 

9 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

In American English, "meet" is used the first time you meet someone:  “It's nice to meet you.”  “I’m looking forward to meeting you.”  Subsequently, to someone you already know you say: “I’m looking forward to seeing you.”  Or “It's nice to see you.”   

 

 

I think this is too strict. There's even an old WWII song that goes "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when". And here's another in the wild instance — this time saying "Let's meet up soon" — where the speaker is clearly talking about someone they've already met before. I could even make up some examples on the spot: "Guess who I met up with yesterday — our old friend Mikey!", "Let's meet again next week", "David and Louise met up after work for coffee". I agree that in this sort of context "see/saw" is probably more common, but that doesn't mean "meet/met" is never used in this way.

 

Language learners (and prescriptivists) often wish languages would abide by these simple rules, but they don't. In my experience, it's much better to try and encourage learners to let go of rules and get used to understanding usage on a case-by-case basis. The best way to do that though is through mass exposure to the language, but of course most learners don't have the time and/or motivation to do that.

 

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Shelley

I agree.

 

I also think in the UK it is used more often than see. 

 

We met up with him at the pub

 

It has the same meaning as bumped into and therefore can be used with people you already know.

 

They are meeting secretly every Wednesday.

 

You could say they are seeing each other secretly, but to me this sounds clumsy.

 

The list of examples could go on but I think meet/met can be used with people you know but only in some circumstances.

 

I think used as a greeting it should be nice to see you after you know the person

 

 

 

 

 

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roddy
13 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

My question to you:  In other English speaking countries, is the use of “meet” and “see” the same as the American usage described above?  I heard an Irish colleague use “meet” when I would have used “see,” but this was just one time and I didn’t have a chance to ask him about it.  Hence my question to all of you.    

Yes. Meet is the first time, after that you'd use see. A caveat though, people who know each other can still 'meet' - that's what a meeting is. So you might have "I'm glad we met today" if you've had a successful meeting. Then you have 'to meet up' in British English at least, so you might say "good to meet up" to a friend.

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abcdefg

A US "Southernism" that always struck me as odd is the middle-aged ladies who will say "How nice to know you" at a first meeting, right after the two of you have been introduced. To make matters even stranger, that first meeting might easily end with a cordial hug. 

 

These are places where you might turn on the car radio and hear: 

 

If Heaven ain't a lot like Dixie

I don't want to go.

 

If they don't have the Grand Ole Opry

Like they do in Tennessee 

Just send me to Hell or New York City

It would be about the same to me.

 

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Dawei3

 

On 3/2/2019 at 3:08 AM, mouse said:

"Let's meet up soon" — where the speaker is clearly talking about someone they've already met before. I could even make up some examples on the spot: "Guess who I met up with yesterday — our old friend Mikey!", "Let's meet again next week", "David and Louise met up after work for coffee".

I had mentioned in the US, we use meet with someone we already know when it involves time or location.  "soon," "yesterday", "next week" and "after work" are all expressions of time, so wherever mouse is from, usage is similar to the US.  

 

Your note also made me realized we would use meet when it involves an activity (i.e., let's meet for coffee.  Albeit this would commonly be used with a time expression).  

 

On 3/2/2019 at 6:26 AM, Shelley said:

 

We met up with him at the pub

and Wednesday are expressions involving location and then time, i.e., same as the US. 

 

 

I wanted to be sure that when correcting friends, the correction is applicable across the English speaking world.  Based on the posts above, it seems like it is.  

 

 

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Shelley

I think you could actually leave out the Wednesday and say "They are meeting secretly."  

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mouse
On 3/4/2019 at 12:02 PM, Dawei3 said:

I had mentioned in the US, we use meet with someone we already know when it involves time or location.

 

I'm not sure I know how to meet someone outside of time and space. Sounds very Lovecraftian. 

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