“Meet,” “meet with” or “meet up with”?
If you’re like most English learners, you’re probably getting these phrases mixed up.
We use these phrases in slightly different ways, and we can sound very unnatural if we get it wrong.
Let’s look at them and solve this problem once and for all!
Meeting someone for the first time
This is Kelly, and she’s meeting Tolga.
OK. These situations can be awkward, right? (Thankfully, there are ways to make these situations less painful.)
To me, this is the simplest and most direct use of “meet.”
This is when we start talking to someone for the first time, and we go from not knowing who that person is to knowing who that person is.
In this situation, there’s really only one way of talking about it, and that’s with the verb “meet.”
No prepositions, no alternative words.
“Eric met Doris.”
Now let’s get to the more interesting stuff.
#2 Meet with
Presidents and important people meeting and talking about important stuff
A very common mistake I hear from English learners is “I met with my friend in a cafe.”
So what’s the problem?
The problem here is using “meet with.”
So I tell them that they shouldn’t use “meet with” and to use “meet” or “meet up with” instead (more on this later).
Then they watch the news in English, and the newsreader says:
“… and in other news, President Gump is meeting with the King of the Brainiarian Islands to discuss chocolate sales. And guns.”
Hang on! Why is “I met with this man” wrong and “President Gump is meeting with the king” right?
The difference here is about how formal the situation is.
Meeting a friend in a cafe is not a formal situation.
But when presidents meet kings, and the news is reporting on it, the situation is suddenly a lot more formal, right?
So the rule?
When you’re speaking formally about a formal situation, then you can use “meet with.”
By the way, we can also just use “meet” for this situation. It’s a little less formal but completely acceptable.
So you can say:
“The president met with the king.”
“The president met the king.”
Freedom of choice!
#3 Meet up with
Meeting your friends
So, we can use “meet with” for very formal situations and “meet” for any situation.
But there’s more!
Let’s say it’s your birthday (in which case, Happy Birthday! You don’t look a day older than 20.)
So naturally, you want to hang out with some friends.
Now, this isn’t a formal situation, right? So we can use “meet.”
“I’m meeting Ella and Niko on Saturday. We’re going to watch the fish races.”
But it’s also a rather informal, relaxed situation, which means we can use the phrasal verb “meet up with.”
“I’m meeting up with Ella and Niko on Saturday.”
It’s more informal and friendly.
Simple but important stuff, right?
OK, so now you know how to describe meeting people in different ways. Here’s a little picture I drew to sum it up:
But there are also a lot of phrases in English that use the word “meet.”
Let’s take a look at the most common idioms with “meet.”
Idioms with Meet
Meet his end
Meaning: to die!
Example: “It was because of his love for sword juggling that he met his end. It was pretty messy.”
Meet your maker
Meaning: to die!
Example: “If you don’t stop shining that light in my face, you’re going to meet your maker very soon!”
Meet halfway / Meet in the middle
Meaning: to compromise
Example: “Well, she wanted to sell the house right away, and I wanted to wait another year, so we met in the middle and waited 6 months.”
Meet your match
Meaning: Find someone who has equal skill, strength or ability
Example: Bond! Bond is the example!
Meet and greet
Meaning: A formal event when business people or politicians meet people from the general public.
Example: “Well, the president is so unpopular now that perhaps a meet and greet might be a bit risky for him.”
“Meet and greet” can also be used when people in the same business or with the same interests meet each other and network.
Example: “The local artists’ meet and greet continued until dawn.”
OK! Now you can talk about meeting people in different situations and at different levels of formality.
How much do you remember, though?
Can you answer these questions?
- Who was the last person you met up with? What did you do?
- What do you talk about when you meet people for the first time?
- Have you ever been to a meet and greet?
- When did you last have to meet in the middle with someone? What was it about?
- Are you interested when the leader of your country meets with another leader? Why? Why not?
Answers in the comments — let’s get the discussion rolling!
Did you find this useful? Do you know any people (or owls) that might also benefit from this? Then BE AWESOME AND SHARE! Spread the knowledge!
I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and I’m impressed how clear, informative and useful your entries always are. You definitely have a talent for teaching. Thanks for your lessons.
P.S. That’s funny how you think of yourself as an advanced English learner and then, all of a sudden, find out that you don’t always use the simple verb ‘meet’ properly!
Thanks so much — I really appreciate it and it’s good to hear some people (like you) are benefiting directly from what I write!
And yes — it’s interesting how we can have some little bad habits for so long. I guess the reason they last so long is that they’re so small (Using “meet with” to talk about meeting friends isn’t the end of the world!)
How about ‘meet my brother at the station – I am very busy and he doesn’t know the city?
Absolutely. When you go somewhere (like the station or an airport), then you can use “meet.”
You might also want to try using “pick up” as well — another common verb for this situation.
Hi Gabriel! Let’s try to answer your questions!
Who was the last person you met up with? What did you do? I met up with Kailin last weekend to have a pizza and a beer together!
What do you talk about when you meet people for the first time? I always try to “break ice” by asking something like How are you? Where are you from?, finding out something in common to talk about.
Have you ever been to a meet and greet? I went to postcard lovers’ meet and greet: really interesting, I saw postcards from all over the world!
When did you last have to meet in the middle with someone? What was it about? I met in the middle with my boyfriend last night: I wanted to relax at home, he wanted to eat something out, it turned out that we had a pizza at home.
Are you interested when the leader of your country meets with another leader? Why? Why not? Basically, I would interested in. However, every time I watch news or something about politics, I always doze off! I’m not really into it!
Great work — thanks for answering these questions! Just a couple of suggestions:
1. Remember the full phrase is “break the ice.” As far as I know, “break ice” isn’t really used. (I may be wrong — there are a lot of varieties of English out there!)
2. We can “eat out” or “go out to eat something,” but unfortunately “eating something out” sounds a little odd to me.
Postcard lovers? At first it didn’t sound interesting — then I thought about it and realised that a postcard collection must be really, really interesting. Were the postcards from all over the world? Can you remember any particularly interesting/weird ones?
And yes — politics can be pretty dull… 🙂
Thank you so much for your lessons! You have such a good sense of humor! Really like how you explain the tasks – very simple and easy to understand.
Thanks so much Ekaterina!
Such positive feedback!
I’m glad you’ve found them both funny and useful — exactly my intention. Good work for keeping working at your English for so long, too.
Hey, this was nice to learn about using meet in different ways!