8 Better Ways To Say “Long Time No See”

“Long time no see” is a fairly common way to hear someone greet you after a long time. You might be familiar with it, but does that mean it’s the best option out there? This article will explore some better alternatives to use in its place.

What Can I Say Instead Of “Long Time No See”?

There are plenty of great alternatives to choose from for this phrase. Some of the ones we want to look closer at are:

  • I haven’t seen you in ages!
  • It’s been a while.
  • It’s been a minute.
  • I haven’t seen you in donkey’s (years).
  • It’s been forever since we last saw each other.
  • How long has it been?
  • It’s been too long.
  • Look what the cat dragged in.
better ways to say long time no see

The preferred version is “I haven’t seen you in ages.” We can use it when it’s been almost too long since we last saw somebody we really care about. It highlights how long it’s been and how much you’ve missed them since the last time you saw them.

I Haven’t Seen You In Ages

Let’s start with the preferred option. It’s one of the most common informal greetings when we’re meeting someone after a particularly long time.

“I haven’t seen you in ages” works well when we want to show how long it has been since last meeting someone. It usually implies that we’ve missed them, and we exaggerate the length of time (“ages”) to show them that they were missed.

It’s a classic saying that many native speakers use. The “ages” it refers to can be anywhere between a few months and a lot of years.

You might see it work as follows:

  • I haven’t seen you in ages, Ben! How have you been?
  • Oh my god, I haven’t seen you in ages! It must have been like three or four years by now?
  • We haven’t seen you in ages, Mary! Are you doing okay?

It’s Been A While

You could also use “it’s been a while” when you want to show how long it’s been since you saw someone. You can also get away with this in more formal situations, which makes it useful.

“It’s been a while” works well because it’s a little more general. We don’t typically exaggerate with this phrase, which is why it makes for an acceptable formal greeting. If we haven’t met someone for a long time, “while” works well to show this.

Here’s how it should look in examples:

  • Hey, it’s been a while. I didn’t know whether you still wanted to talk to me.
  • Oh, it’s been a while! I’m sorry, I totally forgot to message you after the last time.
  • It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It must have been about three years at least!

It’s Been A Minute

“It’s been a minute” is almost identical to “it’s been a while.” However, we use “minute” as an under exaggeration, which is great for more informal situations.

“It’s been a minute” uses “minute” as an under exaggeration. When we haven’t seen someone for a long time, we can use “minute” to show that we’ve missed them, and we weren’t sure if we were going to see them again.

While “minute” typically refers to sixty seconds in standard time, most native speakers understand this phrase means that they have been missed. The idea is to extend the “minute” to equal however long it has been since you last spoke.

This is how we can use this phrase to our advantage:

  • Hey man, it’s been a minute. Have you been doing alright since we last met?
  • It’s been a minute! I sure did miss you!
  • I can’t believe this; it’s been a hot minute! How times have changed since we last saw each other!

I Haven’t Seen You In Donkey’s (Years)

If you’re looking for a really colloquial (even slang-like) phrase, this is the one you want to use. We definitely do not recommend using this one in professional settings, but it’s still great in many other cases.

“I haven’t seen you in donkey’s years” is a great slang phrase we can use. “Donkey’s years” refers to a substantial amount of time because a “donkey” will have a long working life. Therefore, we use it only when it’s been years since we last spoke with someone.

We typically use an apostrophe in “donkey’s” to show that the “year” is owned by the noun. It shows that the “donkey’s years” are what we want the owned object to be, which helps the slang phrase to have a bit of grammatical sense.

This is how you might use this slang phrase:

  • I haven’t seen you in donkey’s year, Michael! I’ve really missed you.
  • I ain’t seen you in donkey’s! What’s it been now? At least five!
  • We haven’t seen them in donkey’s years. I wonder if they’re doing okay.

It’s Been Forever Since We Last Saw Each Other

We can step away from the slang phrases again and look at this slightly longer one. It works when you want to draw attention to just how long it seems since you last spoke to someone.

“It’s been forever since we last saw each other” uses the phrase “forever” to overexaggerate the amount of time it has been. Obviously, we cannot live “forever,” so there is no way we haven’t seen each other for that long.

Still, we use “forever” to show that we really have missed the person we are speaking to. The idea is that if the time felt like “forever” or that it dragged on, they were sorely missed.

This is how we can use this phrase correctly:

  • It’s been forever since we last saw each other. I hope you’ve been keeping well.
  • Oh, wow! It’s been forever since I last saw him, but I’m so glad he’s here again now.
  • It’s been forever since we last saw each other! I can’t believe how much I missed you.

How Long Has It Been?

Sometimes, we might not want to make a greeting statement at all. In these cases, we can easily turn it into an informal question (which is rhetorical for the most part).

“How long has it been” is another form of greeting. While it is a question, we do not expect anyone to answer it with an exact number (though it is okay if they do). Instead, it’s meant as an informal greeting toward someone who we haven’t seen for ages.

We can use this rhetorical question as another form of greeting after a while like so:

  • Sarah! How long has it been? I can’t believe we haven’t kept in contact!
  • Oh my! How long has it been? You haven’t messaged me since the last time we spoke.
  • How long has it been, Sam? I should have contacted you sooner!

It’s Been Too Long

Another great way to show how long it has been since your last meeting with a person is to use the phrase “too long.” While it might seem somewhat exaggerated (like “forever”), it’s still great to show them that they’re missed.

“It’s been too long” is another way to use “it’s been a while” or “a minute.” This time, we use “too long” to establish that it feels like a lifetime since we last met the person. The longer we can make it sound like it was, the more likely they are to feel like they have been missed.

Here’s how it works:

  • Angela, it’s been too long! Have you been keeping yourself well?
  • It’s been too long since we last met! We need to have a catch-up soon.
  • You should have called me and told me you were coming! It’s been too long.

Look What The Cat Dragged In

Finally, we can check out another slang phrase that works in some situations. You shouldn’t always use this one, but if you know the person well, and you know they can take a little joke, this phrase might work for you.

“Look what the cat dragged in” is a sarcastic way to show someone that you missed them. It’s meant to be a light joke, where a “cat” would drag in its kill, and we are making a play on that scenario. However, if we’re close with the person, it still works well.

Here’s how it works:

  • Look what the cat dragged in. I can’t believe you’re back.
  • Oh, take a look at what the cat dragged in! You look awful as ever, Mitchell.
  • Look what the cat dragged in from the street! I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.

Is “Long Time No See” Formal?

Now that we’ve seen all the necessary alternatives, it’s time to look at the original phrase a little closer. Most importantly, is it formal, and can we use it in business settings?

“Long time no see” is typically an informal greeting. We say it to friends or acquaintances that we haven’t seen in a long time. For this reason, it’s not common for people to use it formally, and you should avoid using it in a professional setting.

You may also like: 30 Best Replies To “Long Time No See”