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Is there a set in stone distinction between the meaning of the phrases "meeting someone" and "have a meeting with someone"? It is clear to me that the first implies a first meeting and the second does not.

But would that make "it was nice meeting you" incorrect, if you have met the person before?

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One phrase uses meeting as a verb and the other as a noun. The verb emphasises the interaction while the noun emphasises the formality. So if you were getting together informally, you'd probably say that you were meeting someone, whereas if you had a set agenda and purpose for the gathering, you might prefer to say that you attended a meeting with them.

meet verb 1 Arrange or happen to come into the presence or company of (someone) - ODO

meet with verb 1.3 Have a meeting with (someone) - ODO

meeting noun 1 An assembly of people for a particular purpose, especially for formal discussion. - ODO

There is considerable semantic overlap between the phrases; definition 1.3 of meet as a verb even references the noun definition: "have a meeting with (someone)".

If you start with the noun form "has a meeting with", you can replace it with the verb form "is meeting with". Note that dropping with in the verb form tends to refer to an informal 'gathering', so going from the plain "is meeting" to "has a meeting with" tends to produce something significantly less idiomatic.

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    "[I]f you must draw a difference" -- I must! To have a meeting is much more specific than just to meet. Suppose you're arranging a night out with friends. You would never say "Let's have a meeting at the pub and then go for dinner" because that would always be interpreted as a bizarre invitation to something like a business meeting. You'd say "Let's meet at the pub and then go for dinner" and it would be interpreted as meaning that the pub is the place where you'll find each other. – David Richerby Jul 10 '17 at 15:55
  • @DavidRicherby The existence of the portion of semantic difference doesn't detract from the existence of the considerable portion of semantic overlap. – Lawrence Jul 10 '17 at 22:20
  • @DavidRicherby I see your point, though, and have edited my answer to identify the semantic overlap and difference more clearly. – Lawrence Jul 10 '17 at 22:38
  • @DavidRicherby David this one I agree with much more than the other example you posted below my answer. See the comments below under my answer. I think Lawrence has probably given the most eloquent answer but I just think there was a little confusion on this one. Take a look at my comments below and let me know what you think if you wish. Thanks! – Kace36 Jul 11 '17 at 1:13
  • I still think this talk of "semantic overlap" is glossing over a very significant difference between "meeting somebody" and "have a meeting with somebody". The answer still suggests that they're basically the same thing, but with some nuanced differences. They're not: they're completely different. – David Richerby Jul 11 '17 at 9:23
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I don't think the phrase meeting someone necessarily implies having a first meeting. In fact I am much more likely to assume that it's not a first meeting. If Mark said:

I am meeting Dave for lunch at Hesburger

I would assume that Mark already knows Dave.

Only if Mark said:

I am meeting Dave for the first time

would I think that it was a first meeting.

The phrase meeting someone is such that the sentence it is in usually doesn't end there. It's not very common to hear someone say something like:

I am meeting Dave.

It's more commonly used in the form:

I am meeting Dave somewhere or to do something.

and in that sort of situation, it implies that you are at least aware that Dave exists and it may/may not the first time you two are meeting face to face.

The main difference between the two phrases is that, having a meeting with someone refers to a more formal and set sort of meeting; the kind of meeting you would have at work or with a client. You wouldn't have a meeting with someone if you were just meeting for lunch or to go to the movies. The difference is in the formality of the meeting you are having.

And yes, it was nice meeting you or it was nice to meet you (which I hear more) are used when you have just met someone. You could use it was nice meeting with you or thanks for meeting with me at the end of a meeting if it's not the first time you have met that person but it sounds rather formal.

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"I'm meeting someone" and "I have a meeting with someone" are very similar and basically mean the same thing. The first doesn't necessarily imply a first meeting. I think what you mean is a little different. And actually you have it backward. "I'm meeting someone" is more casual (I think that's what you meant) and could mean that you are meeting a friend after work. 'I have a meeting with someone" is a little more formal. But it can also be used to mean the same exact thing.

Examples:

  1. P1: "Do you want to get drinks after work?" P2: "Sorry, I cant, I'm meeting someone."

  2. P1: "Do you want to get drinks after work?" P2: "Sorry, I can't, I have a meeting with someone."

These examples mean the same thing but the second is more formal and would typically mean you are not just going to meet a friend or have a casual meeting or date. It would usually mean that you have something much more formal and important, possibly even a first meeting with a business partner or job recruiter.

"It was nice meeting you" is used typically only after you meet someone the first time, after the meeting, or at some point in the future when you see them again. Also, you would not keep saying it after having said it once or twice unless some significant time had gone by.

Examples:

  1. A meeting is ending. You shake hands and you say, "It was nice meeting you. I hope we can do it again soon.".

  2. You had a first meeting with someone last week, now you see them at the grocery store today, you might say, "Hi, there, John, it's good to see you. It was nice meeting with you last week. Maybe we can do it again soon?"

  • I disagree. To meet somebody merely means to be with them at some place and time: "Let's meet at the railway station at 7pm" just means that we'll both find each other there at that time. In contrast, a meeting is a business (or similar) event where a group of people get together to discuss some specific topic. If you say "Let's have a meeting at the railway station at 7pm", I'll wonder why you've chosen such a strange location and why it's outside normal working hours. – David Richerby Jul 10 '17 at 15:50
  • I think there is some confusion. "Meeting" doesn't always mean a business meeting or similar (like "I'm in a meeting"). As in my example (or Lawrence's who put it a little more eloquently), it depends how its used. "I'm meeting someone" is a casual use, even if you say, "I'm meeting someone at 7". It indicates it's casual (usually - not always). "I have a meeting with someone..." is almost always to refer to something more formal, possibly someone you don't know, business meeting.... In your example it's odd b/c you are using the noun form of "meeting", not the gerund form of "meet". – Kace36 Jul 11 '17 at 1:07
  • @DavidRicherby The sentence needs to change to something like , "I'm meeting someone at the train station at 7". Now it's in gerund form and is much more casual. Most people will think you have a "date" or something like that. The other way, yes, it's a little odd. – Kace36 Jul 11 '17 at 1:07
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    The question is about the difference between "meeting somebody" and "have a meeting with somebody"; the difference between "I meet" and "I am meeting" is just a change of tense, which is irrelevant. You're confusing participles and gerunds. "I'm meeting" is a participle (verb) not a gerund (noun). The gerund is something like "My meeting him at the station was a great surprise"; which is very rare. "Meeting" as a noun is almost always the business-meeting meaning, rather than the gerund of the verb to meet; "meeting" as a participle could be either, depending on the rest of the sentence. – David Richerby Jul 11 '17 at 9:21
  • But let's use the wording from the question. "I'm meeting someone at the train station" means that we're going to find each other there; "I'm having a meeting with someone at the train station" means we're having something like a business meeting. Nothing has changed. – David Richerby Jul 11 '17 at 9:27
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"To have a meeting with" must have some duration - it's not a point event.

"To meet with" may be a synonym of the above, but it can also be used for an instance.

For example, if I say "I'll be meeting Jim at the airport", it probably means that I'm picking him up, and we're not having a meeting with a set of things to discuss. In no way does it imply a first meeting - I already know Jim, but we're not currently in the same place; when we are in the same place and see each other, then we have met again.

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Is there a set in stone distinction between the meaning of the phrases "meeting someone" and "have a meeting with someone"?

Yes. In the phrase "have a meeting", a meeting is an arranged event at which a group of people come together to discuss a particular topic. The phrase is most commonly used to refer to business meetings, at which a group of employees discuss, for example, the work they intend to do on a particular project. At a political meeting, members of a political organization would get together to discuss the party's policies and so on.

"To meet somebody" just means to come into their presence, either accidentally or deliberately. "Let's meet at the railway station at 7pm" means "Let's both go to the railway station at 7pm and find each other." Presumably, we'd then catch a train together to go somewhere, or maybe it's just that the station is a convenient location to find each other and then we'll go do something else. In contrast, "Let's have a meeting at the railway station at 7pm" would be rather strange – it would be an invitation to something like a business meeting but in a very unusual location for that.

"Meet" can also be unplanned. "I met John in the park" could just mean that I'd gone to the park and I happened to find John there. Or it could mean that the first time I ever spoke to John was in the park. If you wanted to emphasize that, you could say "I first met John in the park."

It is clear to me that the first implies a first meeting and the second does not.

"Meet" doesn't have to be for the first time, as the "Let's meet at the railway station" example shows. And one could meet somebody for the first time in a meeting: for example, it would be very common for employees of a company and customers to meet each other for the first time at business meetings.

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'Meeting someone' implies that one is meeting with a friend, acquaintance or anyone in general for business or any other reason. e.g.1) I'm meeting Meera for lunch.
2) I met him at the mall yesterday.

However, 'Having a meeting with someone' usually means that the meeting was arranged or scheduled earlier.

  • But even if you and I pre-arrange to go for a social lunch together, we'd never say "We've arranged a meeting at the cafe" because, then, people would assume we were having something like a business meeting. We'd say "We're meeting at the cafe." – David Richerby Jul 10 '17 at 16:18

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