How are you, really?

How are you?
I'm fine thanks, and you?

How many of your English conversations start out like this? There is, of course, nothing wrong with this response, but it's the perfect "textbook" response. Most native English speakers would respond a little differently, not to mention the fact that "fine"actually has a slightly negative connotation! So keep reading to learn some new ways to respond to this everyday question.

 

How are you?

As well as there being many more responses, there are many more ways to ask how someone is than just "how are you?", so here are a few more ways you can ask this question:


Work/formal situations

How are you doing?

How's it going?

How have you been? (if you haven't seen the person for a while)


Casual/informal situations

How are things?

What's new?

What's up?


Of course, depending on where you are and who you are talking to, your response will be more or less detailed, but even in those formal work situations we certainly don't have to use "fine thanks". So let's take it by levels, from a formal to an informal/friendly context:


Work/formal situation

I'm [doing] well, thanks!

I'm good/great, thanks for asking!

I'm [doing] fine/alright, busy as always!

Not [too] bad, what about you?


Casual/informal situation - positive responses

I'm [doing] awesome!

[I've] never been better!

Things are good/great!

I've been doing really well!


Casual/informal situation - negative responses

I've been better.

I'm okay/alright.

I'm managing/coping.

I'm hanging in there.

 

So there you have it, a few more ways to answer the most popular question in the world. I'm not saying you need to give a long, detailed answer of how you really are every time someone asks, but there's nothing wrong with a slightly more honest answer than just simply, "fine". Give it a shot and see how people respond!

 

Glossary

  • start out: phrasal verb for - begin

  • not to mention the fact that: in addition to or as well as what's been discussed. Typically used to mention an additional item when listing things that one considers negative.

  • to cope: to manage or deal with a difficult situation

  • to hang in there: to try to overcome a difficult situation

  • give it a shot: idiom for - to try something new



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