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English Greetings – Ask and Answer ‘How are you?’ – Video

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In this lesson, you can learn different ways to ask and answer the question ‘how are you?’ You’ll learn English greetings you can use in formal and informal situations when you speak English!

QUIZ: English Greetings – Ask and Answer ‘How are you?’

Test your knowledge of the vocabulary from this lesson by trying this quiz. There are 20 questions. When you finish, press ‘View Questions’ to see all the correct answers. Good luck!

English Greetings - Ways to Ask and Answer 'How are you?' - friends talking in a cafe image

1. How to Answer ‘How Are You?’

Olivier: Hi, how are you?

Gina: I’m good, thanks, you?

O: Hi, how are you?

G: I’m pretty good.

O: Hi, how are you?

G: I’m OK.

O: Hi, how are you?

G: Not bad, thanks.

O: Hi, how are you?

G: I’m very well.

O: Hi, how are you?

G: I’m great!

Remember that it’s polite to also ask the other person how they are, too. You can do this by simply adding you? Or, and you?

For example:

  • I’m very well, and you?
  • I’m great! You?

Notice that the intonation rises at the end to show that you’re asking a question.

Now, you’ve learned some ways to answer the question how are you, but what about the question itself?

2. How to Ask ‘How Are You?’

Like I’m fine, there are many ways to ask how are you, and you should try to add variety to your English when you speak.

By the way, you probably wouldn’t ask a person you see regularly how are you?

If you see them often it might sound strange because nothing has changed since the last time you saw each other.

Here are a few alternatives you can use. These are more informal, but they’re very common in everyday situations.

  • How’s it going?
  • How’re things?
  • How’re you doing?
  • How’s life?

In informal spoken English, you should use contractions and link words to sound natural.

So, make sure you say How’s it going, with a contraction of is. You can’t use the full form—How is it going—unless you want to sound like a robot.

Similarly, how’re you doing needs to be pronounced with a contraction of are.

You can even leave out the word are and just say how you doing?

Next, let’s see how you can put these greetings together in a real situation.

O: Hey! How’s it going?

G: Pretty good thanks, you?

O: Yeah, not bad.

G: Hi, Olivier, how’re things?

O: Good, thanks, and you?

G: I’m good!

Next, let’s look at some even more informal ways of asking or answering the question how are you.

3. Informal Ways to Ask and Answer ‘How Are You?’

Here are three very informal questions you can use to ask how are you:

  • How’s tricks?
  • What’s up?
  • What’s new?
  • Alright?

Remember that these are very informal. That doesn’t mean they’re rude or that you shouldn’t use them, but you can’t use them in more formal situations.

And yes, how’s tricks is grammatically incorrect, but that’s the phrase which people use!

These are common between friends and people who know each other well.

Remember what you learned about linking words earlier? It’s also important here.

You don’t say, What is up?

You say, What’s up?

And, you don’t say, What is new?

You say, What’s new?

These different questions can also have different responses. Let’s look!

G: Alright?

O: Yeah, you?

G: Yeah, not bad.

O: What’s new?

G: Not a lot! You?

O: Nothing much.

It might sound negative to you to just say nothing, but it’s a very common expression to say that you’re well.

Because these are very informal ways to ask how are you, sometimes they’re used as greetings. This means that sometimes these questions don’t need an answer.

When using these phrases, you can simply answer with an informal greeting, like this:

O: What’s up?

G: Hey, what’s up?

O: Alright?

G: Hey!

What else do you need to think about in these situations?

It’s important that you continue the conversation after you answer the how are you question. How can you do that?

4. How to Continue the Conversation

Even if you’re a master of greeting phrases in English, that won’t help you if this happens:

O: Hi, how are you?

G: I’m fine thank you, and you?

O: Fine thanks.

[Long, awkward pause…]

So, what can you say after the initial greeting? You have many choices!

Basically, you can make a statement, or ask a question.

For example, you could tell the other person something about yourself and your life, like this:

  • Actually, work was pretty stressful, but now I’m looking forward to…
  • I had a really good day today, because…
  • I’ve just been to…

Or, there’s always the weather!

  • It’s really hot today, isn’t it?
  • It’s been so wet the last few days. Hopefully it’ll be brighter this weekend!

British people love to talk about the weather, if you hadn’t realised yet!

You can also ask another question, such as:

  • How was your day?
  • How’s your day going?
  • How was your weekend?

If you’re more confident, or you know more about the person you’re talking to, you can go into more detail and ask them more specific questions. For example:

  • How was your trip to Madrid last weekend?
  • Did you watch the football last night?
  • Is your brother visiting you next week, or is it the week after?

Now, you should know how to greet people, how to ask and answer how are you in different ways, and how to continue the conversation.

Let’s see how you can put everything together.

5.Putting it All Together

G: Hey, how are things?

O: I’m good thanks, but a little tired today: busy at work. How about you?

G: I’m well, but I’ve got a lot at work too. How was your trip to Madrid last weekend?

O: Fantastic! It’s a really great city. What did you do last weekend?

G: Nothing much, just relaxed on the beach!

O: Very nice!

[fade out/in]

O: Hi, what’s new?

G: Not much, you?

O: Yeah, alright.

G: You look a bit tired.

O: Yeah, I didn’t sleep well last night.

G: Oh no, why not?

O: My neighbours had a big party and it was really loud.

G: I hate it when people do that.

O: Yeah, me too. Anyway, how’s your day going?

Now, it’s your turn to practice!

Imagine somebody asks how are you? Can you write down five possible things you could say? Pause the video and write down your answers now.

Ready? Let’s look. Of course, there are more than five possible answers. These are just suggestions:

  • I’m good.
  • I’m pretty good.
  • Not bad.
  • A little bit tired.
  • Great, thanks!

And what about different ways to ask how are you? What can you say? Pause the video and write down five different ways to ask this question.

OK? Again, these are just suggestions. There are many possibilities!

  • How’s it going?
  • How’re you doing?
  • What’s up?
  • How’s life?
  • How’re things?

And what do you do next? Do you stop talking? No; keep going! Ask a question or make a statement to continue the conversation. Learn how to continue speaking with this Oxford Online English lesson on making small talk.

Thanks for watching!

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