We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This!

The title of this post is a tired* (meaning over-used) joke. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!,” is the expression people use when they run into* each other several times within a short time period.

After working with hundreds of English Language Learners, I now realize that the word “meeting” has a much narrower use in English than in other languages. So, even advanced students use the word incorrectly.

 Meet is used in the following ways:

  • When you are introduced to a person, a pet, or creature with a name.

NOTE: We can use the word “introduced” with concepts and things, but NOT “meet.“ I can be introduced to rock climbing, but I can’t meet it.  Additionally, it is scary but it is correct to say, “I met the Loch Ness Monster today!”

  • When you are meeting someone somewhere.
    Buster Brown Comic 1903
    Buster Brown Comic 1903

    In this case the location or the purpose must be mentioned or implied.

“I will meet you in/at* the library after work.” Either in or at can be used in this sentence.  “In” means inside the library, “at” means at that location.  If we normally meet in the library parking lot, I would say “at the library.”

  • To describe a formal meeting (see About Meetings below).
  • To refer to an encounter (a surprise or “chance meeting”).  Another common expression, “Fancy meeting you here!” uses meet in this sense. (The word “fancy” has had various uses in English over the years.  This expression uses fancy to mean “what a surprise!”)

Students have said things like:

“I will meet my friend from California.”   No. If they are already your friend then you can’t “meet” them again. This sentence needs a location, if we say, “I will meet my friend from California at her hotel,” then it works!  We can also use “meet up with.”  When using “meet up with” we don’t need to indicate a place.  “Meeting up with” someone is a purpose so no more information is required.

“We were meeting new things.”  No.  We can discover new things (or be introduced to them), but we can’t meet them.

Sometimes a student will greet me with, “Nice to meet you!” This only works once!  If it is our first meeting, then yes. However, usually “It’s good to see you again,” or simply, “Nice to see you!” is what is meant.

Nice to meet you! This only works once Click To Tweet
About meetings

There is a difference between having a meeting, going to a meeting, and joining one.  All three of these expressions refer to “formal” meetings. I am using formal in the sense that the meeting has been called or convened for a purpose, even though it might be very spur-of-the-moment (= impromptu).

  •  To have a meeting, means to have a meeting scheduled, e.g. “I have a lunch meeting tomorrow.,” or “We need to have a meeting with the staff about overtime.”
  • Going to a meeting, means you are planning to go to a scheduled meeting, e.g. “I’m going to my 2 o’clock*! See you tomorrow!” (If these sentences seem strange to you, you will want to read my post about ellipsis* titled “Did I forget to mention…?” )

   If it’s a get-together (you are just meeting someone somewhere), say something like,   “I’m  going to meet the guys at the gym.”

  •  Joining a meeting, this means that you are joining a meeting already in progress.

There are three situations where you would use this expression:

1. You are a guest at the meeting, so you are joining (meaning accompanying) the group for that meeting, or

2. You are not expected to be at the meeting but you decide to attend the meeting (here again “join” is used to express accompanying the others in the group). For example the boss may occasionally join a meeting of his/her staff (don’t say “subordinates”), and

3. You are running late and you join a meeting already in process. So, “join” is used to describe joining a group (even a temporary group, like when you join someone on a bench or join them to go shopping).

When it comes to meetings or other gatherings (like parties), we say we are going or not going.  We “join” the gathering when we come inside the door. Then, we are “joining” the others.

Building Bridges, by Fritz Ahlefeldt
Building Bridges, by Fritz Ahlefeldt


      Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG My Take On It

The drawing above illustrates “meeting in the middle”, or “meeting halfway” which to me is the definition of respect and where peace and understanding begin.  We don’t have to agree on everything, but let’s find areas where we can “meet.”  Once we get to know each other a little better then we can begin to have some meaningful discussions.

Thank you! Blessings, Michele


3 thoughts on “We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This!

  1. After reading this article, one of my students asked me about the phrase, “I’m looking forward to meeting you again.” Her question was, “Is it wrong or awkward?”

    The answer is: No. Its fine. That phrase uses “meet” in the “encounter” sense. You are saying, “I’m looking forward to running into you again.”

    If the word “with” is added, making it “I’m looking forward to meeting with you again.,” it means that you have had a scheduled meeting with them and are looking forward to seeing them in the next scheduled meeting.

    Which brings me to the student’s next insightful question: Can I just say, “I’m looking forward to seeing you again?” Absolutely!

    Great questions! Please hit “reply” below if you have any more. Michele

  2. This is well done! 🙂 The explanations and details of when to use certain phrases is very helpful. Well done, maestra!

  3. The title of your blog is a nice ‘hook’. It ‘peaks’ the reader’s interest; at least it ‘peaked’ my interest. I learned something new. I find that all of your posts are very informative. Keep ’em coming! I’m getting smarter by the day!

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