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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 5 Tips for English Greetings and Responses - How to Ask and Answer 'How are you?'

Difficulty: 0


Im Olivier, welcome to Oxford Online English!

When you started learning English, Im fine is probably one of the first things you learnt.

Its a simple way of answering the question How are you?

Fine is, well, fine!

But if you use it all the time, it can get very repetitive, and a little boring.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

Hi, how are you?

Im fine thank you, and you?

Hi, how are you?

Im fine thank you, and you?

Hi, how are you?

Im fine thank you, and you?

Hi, how are you?

Im fine thank you, and you?

I think you get the idea.

Even with very simple language, its better if your language is varied.

So, how can you make this more interesting?

Here are a few ideas.

Hi, how are you?

Im good, thanks, you?

Hi, how are you?

Im pretty good.

Hi, how are you?

Im OK.

Hi, how are you?

Not bad, thanks.

Hi, how are you?

Im very well.

Hi, how are you?

Im great!

Remember that its polite to also ask the other person how they are, too.

You can do this by simply adding you?

Or, and you?

For example:

Im very well, and you?

Im great!


Notice that the intonation rises at the end to show that youre asking a question.

Now, youve learned some ways to answer the question how are you, but what about the

question itself?

Like Im 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 wouldnt ask a person you see regularlyhow are you?’.

If you see them often it might sound strange because nothing has changed since the last

time you saw them.

Here are a few alternatives you can use.

These are more informal, but theyre very common in everyday situations.

Hows it going?

Howre things?

Howre you doing?

Hows life?

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

So, make sure you say Hows it going, with a contraction of is.

You cant use the full formHow is it goingunless you want to sound like a robot.

Similarly, howre you doing needs to be pronounced with a contraction of are: howre

you doing?

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

Next, lets see how you can put these greetings together in a real situation.


Hows it going?

Pretty good thanks, you?

Yeah, not bad.

Hi, Olivier, howre things?

Good, thanks, and you?

Im good!

Next, lets look at some even more informal ways of asking or answering the question how

are you.

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

Hows tricks?

Whats up?

Whats new?


Remember that these are very informal.

That doesnt mean theyre rude or that you shouldnt use them, but you cant

use them in more formal situations.

And yes, hows tricks is grammatically incorrect, but thats 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?

Its also important here.

You dont say, What is up?

You say, Whats up?

And, you dont say, What is new?

You say, Whats new?

These different questions can also have different responses.

Lets look!


Yeah, you?

Yeah, not bad.

Whats new?

Not a lot!


Nothing much.

It might sound negative to you to just say nothing, but its a very common expression

to say that youre well.

Because these are very informal ways to ask how are you, sometimes theyre used as greetings.

This means that sometimes these questions dont need an answer.

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

Whats up?

Hey, whats up?



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

Its important that you continue the conversation after you answer the how are you question.

How can you do that?

Even if youre a master of greeting phrases in English, that wont help you if this happens:

Hi, how are you?

Im fine thank you, and you?

Fine thanks.

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


Actually, work was pretty stressful, but now Im looking forward to

I had a really good day today, because

Ive just been to

Or theres always the weather!

Its really hot today, isnt it?

Its been so wet the last few days.

Hopefully itll be brighter this weekend!

British people love to talk about the weather, if you hadnt realised yet!

You can also ask another question, such as:

How was your day?

Hows your day going?

How was your weekend?

If youre even more confident, or you know more about the person youre 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.

Lets see how you can put everything together.

Hey, how are things?

Im good thanks, but a little tired today: busy at work.

How about you?

Im well, but Ive got a lot at work too.

How was your trip to Madrid last weekend?


Its a really great city.

What did you do last weekend?

Nothing much, just relaxed on the beach!

Very nice!

Hi, whats new?

Not much, you?

Yeah, alright.

You look a bit tired.

Yeah, I didnt sleep well last night.

Oh no, why not?

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

I hate it when people do that.

Yeah, me too.

Anyway, hows your day going?

Now, its 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.


Lets look.

Of course, there are more than five possible answers.

These are just suggestions:

Im good.

Im 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.


Again, these are just suggestions.

There are many possibilities!

Hows it going?

Howre you doing?

Whats up?

Hows life?

Howre 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.

Remember that you can find more great free English lessons like this on our website:

Oxford Online English dot com.

Thanks for watching!

See you next time!

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