Home ESL Teacher How Are You vs. How Are You Doing: What’s the Distinction and When to Use What?

How Are You vs. How Are You Doing: What’s the Distinction and When to Use What?

How Are You vs. How Are You Doing: What’s the Distinction and When to Use What?


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Need to keep away from awkward conversations with native English audio system?

Then it’s time to be sure to know the right way to react when somebody asks “How are you?”

Sounds straightforward, proper? Don’t you simply inform folks how you’re feeling?

Not all the time.

Carry on studying to see all of the attainable solutions and reactions to “How are you?”—belongings you by no means realized in ESL class or throughout your self-study.


How’s it going?

What’s up?

How’ve you been? (How have you ever been? )

What have you ever been as much as?

What’s occurring?

How are you doing?

Till you develop into conversant in these questions, you’ll have to concentrate to which query was used. Why?

Properly, if somebody asks you “What’s up?” it doesn’t make sense to reply “Good.” The widespread reply is “Not a lot,” adopted by a return “What’s up with you? ”

Word: “What have you ever been as much as” and “What’s occurring?” could be answered in the identical means.

You may change the “What’s up with you?” with “What’s occurring with you?” if you wish to match the unique query.

The distinction between “How are you?” and “How are you doing?”

These phrases are very comparable, however “how are you?” is barely extra formal, and could also be used extra generally when somebody is particularly asking about your well being or wellbeing

For essentially the most half although, they’re mainly interchangeable. 

Additionally they have barely completely different grammar, which is able to have an effect on the way you reply. 

If somebody asks “How are you doing?,” grammatically you ought to additionally reply “properly.”

This says “I’m doing properly.”

Since “doing” is an motion verb, we have to use the adverb “properly” to explain that motion.

However most native audio system will nonetheless reply with the one phrase “Good.”

You’ll hear it usually in speech, and folks truly may suppose it sounds humorous/mistaken to say “Properly.”

So, it’s completely acceptable to answer “How are you doing?” with “Good!”

Even so, if somebody asks “How are you doing?” then it’s grammatically appropriate to say “Properly.”

Formal Solutions to “How Are You?” for Acquaintances and Strangers 

Your reply to the query “How are you?” is determined by who requested you the query. First, we’ll have a look at what to say when folks you don’t know or folks you don’t know very properly ask how you’re.

Let’s have a look at some formal (extra well mannered) solutions to “How are you?”

You’ll use these once you’re speaking to acquaintances and strangers. In fact, you need to use these with anybody you converse to, even household and shut buddies.

Acquaintances are those that you understand, however don’t know very properly. This might be somebody you’ve met simply a few times, maybe a good friend of a good friend, an previous classmate that you just have been by no means actually buddies with or a person who works on the native grocery retailer.

If you see an acquaintance someplace, it’s well mannered to greet them. In the event you each know one another however don’t say something to the opposite individual, it’s considerably impolite (dangerous manners).

You’ll typically encounter acquaintances in your on a regular basis life, but additionally in your skilled life at work. In these conditions, it’s important that you know the way to speak to those acquaintances at work correctly.

Individuals that you just don’t know or have by no means met earlier than are known as strangers. A stranger might be the cashier (the individual working on the check-out counter) of a grocery store, the receptionist at an workplace or somebody sitting subsequent to you on the bus.

So, when one among these folks (an acquaintance or a stranger) asks how you’re, how must you reply?

It’s essential to notice: This individual doesn’t need to know the way you truly are that day. They’re simply being well mannered.

In america, “Hello, how are you?” is nearly a cultural greeting—it’s how we are saying hi there. In the event you say this to an acquaintance or stranger, you most likely aren’t actually eager about their true reply.

Additionally, the individual you’re greeting gained’t reply truthfully, as a result of that’s simply how it’s on this society.

So, in these conditions, it’s greatest to give a brief reply. You normally gained’t share how you actually really feel.

Listed below are some widespread solutions and what they imply:


As an ESL instructor, that is the reply I hear most frequently from non-native audio system.

Watch out, although! “High-quality” typically implies that you’re not utterly all proper—one thing might be mistaken.

The tone you utilize once you say this phrase makes a distinction. A shorter, higher-pitched “I’m fantastic” with a smile will imply you truly are okay. #

In the event you sigh, say it slowly and use a decrease tone of voice, “I’m fantastic” might imply the alternative—you aren’t fantastic in any respect.

Let’s have a look at an instance of how “fantastic” has a considerably adverse that means, in a special state of affairs:

Sally: Oh, sorry. I ordered the mistaken coloration…you wished purple!

Kate: It’s fantastic. We’ll simply use blue. There’s no time to order purple now.

As you’ll be able to see, Kate stated, “It’s fantastic,” when it actually wasn’t fantastic in any respect. Sally ordered the mistaken coloration! However the phrase “fantastic” is commonly used to imply “adequate.” It’s not nice, however it should work.

The identical factor occurs rather a lot when asking how you’re. If somebody is “fantastic,” typically they’re not nice, however they’re adequate.

Do that: subsequent time you’re watching an American sitcom in English, pay attention for the phrase “fantastic” and take into consideration if it’s utilized in a optimistic, impartial or adverse means.

Not dangerous

This reply can sound both extra impartial or barely optimistic, relying in your tone. In the event you’re “not dangerous,” it implies that issues are okay.

All proper

Responding that you just’re “all proper” is impartial, however normally extra optimistic than “fantastic.” And identical to the primary two solutions we’ve seen right here, your intonation (pitch of voice, excessive or low) can change the that means barely (a bit).

“I’m all proper” has a optimistic vibe (vitality) if every phrase is larger in tone than the earlier phrase. When stated this manner, every phrase is held a bit longer than the earlier phrase, too. General, the phrase is spoken a bit slowly.

To make a extra neutral-sounding reply, “I’m” is the best pitched phrase, “all” drops in tone and “proper” goes up a step, however is decrease than “I’m.”

The phrases are spoken extra rapidly than within the earlier instance.

Ask a local speaker to say this phrase, or pay attention for it in context whereas watching American motion pictures.


The commonest reply that I hear and say is “Good.” It’s a optimistic, well mannered and customary response.

You may not truly be feeling too good once you reply “Good,” however for an acquaintance or stranger it’s a standard reply to present.

Saying “Good” is grammatically appropriate if you happen to imply that you just’re comfortable and nice!

Native audio system typically confuse the phrase “good” with “properly.” Let’s state every phrase’s utilization extra clearly.

Good is an adjective, which implies it describes a noun (individual, place, factor).

For instance:

My son is a good boy.

I need to learn a good e book.

I do know a good restaurant.

You probably did a good job.

In response to “How are you?” the response “good” is an adjective describing myself. I’m good. It’s an accurate response, grammatically.

(Word: The verb “are” comes from the infinitive “to be,” which is a linking verb. This isn’t an motion verb, which is a part of the explanation why folks get confused.)


“Properly,” then again, is an adverb. Which means it describes a verb—an motion. It describes the way you do one thing.

For instance:

You probably did properly on the examination.

He performs sports activities properly.

My voice instructor stated I sing properly.

“Properly” will also be used as an adjective, however solely once you’re particularly speaking about well being. “Properly” means “wholesome” when it’s used on this means.

Right here’s an instance:

Sally: I heard you had the flu, how are you?

Kate: I’m properly.

Responding and persevering with the dialog

After you say your fast reply, it’s well mannered so as to add a “thanks” afterwards. After that, you’ll be able to ask the opposite individual “How are you?”

You don’t have to say “thanks” first, nevertheless it’s all the time good. It’s most well mannered to ask the individual how they’re in return.

Listed below are some full responses to “How are you?”:

Good, thanks. And also you?

Not dangerous. How are you?

I’m good. And also you?

I’m fantastic, thanks. How about you?

Now you’re able to exit within the English-speaking world and greet others. However what about once you’re speaking with good buddies or household?

Casual Solutions to “How Are you?”

After we’re speaking with shut buddies or members of the family, we’ll reply the query otherwise.

It’s time to be sincere.

When speaking with your folks, mother and father or siblings (brothers and sisters), it’s okay to inform them how you actually really feel.

Perhaps you’ll reply “I’m fantastic” with a sigh at first, after which your good friend will ask you “What’s mistaken?” Then you’ll be able to inform her or him precisely what’s bothering you.

Listed below are some extra replies you may use to explain the way you’re actually feeling:


Right here’s one other fast, impartial reply like “fantastic” or “all proper.” Relying in your tone once you use this response, your good friend may ask “Simply okay?” as a follow-up.

This implies they suppose one thing is mistaken and need to know what’s occurring in your life.


We’ve seen a lot of impartial and adverse responses, however hopefully there are a lot of occasions once you really feel glorious!

If you’re higher than good, say you’re nice.


Right here’s one other very optimistic response. In the event you’re wanting ahead to one thing—like a live performance subsequent week, spending time with a very good good friend or getting a pet—say you’re excited!

Then you’ll be able to inform your good friend or relative why you’re excited.

I can’t complain / Can’t complain

If issues aren’t going amazingly properly, however you’re grateful for the great issues you’ve gotten in your life, you need to use this response. 


This implies every part is regular, neither optimistic not adverse. You’ve simply be doing all of your “standard” routine these days. 

Oh, you understand

That is to make use of with the individuals who know you so properly, they already know what’s occurring in your life.

This may be paired with “standard” like this:

“How are you doing?”

“Oh, you understand…. standard”

I’ve been higher

When there’s something mistaken, you need to use “I’ve been higher” as your first response.

It will lead your good friend or relative to ask you “What’s mistaken?” or one thing comparable.

Might be worse

Perhaps issues aren’t going properly these days, however you’ve gotten some issues to be pleased about.

This expresses some gratitude that issues aren’t going as badly as they may.


If you’re irritated, or one thing retains going mistaken, you possibly can be pissed off (irritated).

Chances are you’ll be pissed off when you’ll be able to’t get your laptop to print or when your co-worker makes the identical mistake again and again.


When you’ve got no free time as a result of you’ve gotten a lot of issues to do, say you’re busy!


If you’re busy, it’s attainable that you just is also wired.

Feeling stress (strain) is a adverse feeling that may occur when you’ve gotten an excessive amount of to do (typically belongings you don’t need to do) and never sufficient time.


Use this response once you’re involved about an issue. If you’re fearful, you suppose the end result to a state of affairs might be dangerous however you don’t know the right way to make it okay, otherwise you don’t have management of the state of affairs so as an alternative you concentrate on it rather a lot.

For instance, somebody who simply misplaced their job will most likely fear about cash and discovering a brand new job.


If you’re actually drained. Perhaps you didn’t sleep properly or labored outdoors all day. In the event you don’t have any vitality, use this phrase.

How you can Observe Responding to “How Are You?”

I wager you by no means thought that “How are you?” might be so advanced. However don’t get wired!

Do not forget that there are two important conditions with this greeting: speaking to folks you understand and folks you don’t know. The nearer you’re to somebody, the extra particular you could be about how you feel.

With some observe and seeing real-life examples, you’ll quickly be snug with the “How are you?” greeting.

As a result of it’s so widespread within the English-speaking world, watching motion pictures and TV exhibits could be an effective way to be taught all of the nuances of the phrase.

In the event you don’t really feel prepared for materials at such a complicated degree, think about attempting FluentU. It takes clips from all types of English content material (like commercials, speeches and TV exhibits) and turns them into language classes.

a screenshot of FluentU

Every video comes with interactive subtitles so you’ll be able to comply with alongside and test the that means of any phrase with only a click on. Plus, you’ll be able to seek for particular phrases or phrases to see movies the place they seem. 

You may even make a flashcard deck for greetings then observe them with the quizzes on FluentU. And if you happen to’re on the iOS or Android app, you’ll get an opportunity to observe talking phrases out loud earlier than you utilize them with an actual individual.

Then, it’ll be time to take your data to the streets! Say “hi there” to as many individuals as you’ll be able to and see how they reply your “How are you?”

When you’ve mastered this query, you is perhaps so comfortable that you just reply “good” to the following one who asks how you’re!