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I know it's a way of greeting someone, but I am not so sure when should I be using it, and how they differ from "hey" or "hi".

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's a personal preference. Both "hi there" and "hi" are informal greetings that can be used interchangeably. That being said, I rarely (if ever) hear someone use "hey there" or "hi there". I would say that those forms have fallen into relative disuse.

If you happen to be a Mouseketeer in the 1950's, you may not have a choice in the matter.

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+1: For the Mouseketeer reference, but you left out "Ho there"! Don't leave me hangin', bro! –  Robusto Mar 5 '11 at 0:59
    
I still hear these expansions a lot, and see them a good deal more in emails/IM, maybe it has not died out everywhere. –  Orbling Mar 5 '11 at 1:00
    
@Robusto I also can't help but think of 'Bob' from "That 70's Show". –  RD1 Mar 5 '11 at 1:00
    
Going to take a risk here by adding that my own informal observation tells me that females prefer to use "Hey .." compared to "Hi .." Not sure why. Anyone can confirm or disprove this observation? –  Kim Stacks Mar 5 '11 at 4:36
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 26 '11 at 21:17

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