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Here in my country, we usually use the expression "where are you coming from?" as a greeting. (It literally means where you were before you got here).

This is good manners to ask like this in our country, but I heard this is a really inappropriate expression as a greeting.

When we meet each other, and we are a little bit curious about where someone is coming from, what is better to use in the elevator or in the street?

How about the expression "Are you coming from work?"

  • "How are you doing?" is (the?) a common simple greeting when meeting in the context you describe – Allan S. Hansen Jun 1 '16 at 10:15
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    "How are you?" is the standard polite greeting. It's semi-rhetorical. – Max Williams Jun 1 '16 at 10:17
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    BTW, "Where are you coming from?" is too close to "Where do you live?", which would be seen as an absolutely unacceptable invasion of privacy. – Max Williams Jun 1 '16 at 10:34
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    In general, in the US, you should avoid querying someone who is not a familiar about their comings and goings. More appropriate would be something like "Did you have a good weekend?" You want a query which allows the respondent to say as little or as much as they feel comfortable saying, vs "demanding" specific information. – Hot Licks Jun 1 '16 at 12:24
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    There are unwritten conventions applying to the occupants of lifts. Basically, stand straight, don't look at the other occupants unless you know them and try not to touch them inadvertently. Avoid eye contact after the initial glance. The occupants stand so as to distribute the personal space as evenly as possible, except in the case of sub-groupings (like pairs). If you ask personal questions of strangers in the lift (and you do not work for building Security) you will be seen as very creepy. You can say "excuse me" to get past someone to the exit, but not much else is expected. – DrSpleen Aug 5 '16 at 18:37
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If all you need is something to say to someone who just entered the elevator after you or was already there when you entered,

"How was your day"

or

"Tough Day, huh?"

might be your best options if you are engaging someone you know from around the building but not personally.

"Are you coming from work"

might be okay to ask, but i would generally avoid its use as the answer to that will mostly be in the negative as people do a lot more things than just work.

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