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How to Respond to “How Are You?”, and Other Conversation Starters

how are you

November 17, 2017

Like any other language, English has conversations starters that people use to find out common topics and kickstart the conversation. We offer you to take a look at four questions like this and find out how to answer them:

  • How are you?
  • What’s up? | What’s happening?
  • How’s it going?

You’ve probably heard all these questions, but you don’t always know how to answer them do you? Don’t worry, after reading this article you won’t feel uncomfortable when hearing these anymore.

“How are you?”

  1. Answer #1: Fine.

    You can give this simple straightforward answer. If you don’t want to continue the conversation, you may say nothing but this one word – “fine”.

  2. Answer #2: Not bad.

    “Fine” is a more uniform answer while “not bad” has a little bit friendlier tone.

  3. Answer #3: Very well, thanks.

    This is the answer for grammatically demanding people because the question “how?” requires an adverb in the answer. If you and your interlocutor don’t care about this (as many English speaking people do) you may not use this answer.

  4. Answer #4: I’m great, thanks! And how are you doing?

    This is an excited response that either lets the person you’re communicating with know, that you’re interested in continuing the conversation, or it makes them understand that you’re trying to be polite.

  5. Answer #5: I’ve been better.

    If you have some problems and you’re eager to share them, you can say “I’ve been better”. But if you’re answering like this you should be ready to explain your problems.

“What’s up?” or “What’s Happening?”

Before letting you know how to respond on this one, let’s first find out what does it mean. It basically means “what’s going on in your life?” If you don’t want to tell the story of your life, you may use one of these standard phrases:

  1. Answer #1: Nothing much.

    The most usual answer is “nothing much”. You can continue it with explanatory phrases like “nothing much, just enjoying my life”.

  2. Answer #2: Not a lot.

    It bears the same meaning as the previous answer, but this one is a bit fresher than “nothing much”.

  3. Answer #3: Nothing.

    Choose this answer if you want to show, that you don’t want to communicate further. Saying “nothing” shows that you’re angry or irritated, or just don’t want to talk.

  4. Answer# 4: Oh, just the usual.

    It lets your interlocutor know that you’re in your usual routine. Answer this way if you do mostly the same things each day.

  5. Answer #5: Oh gosh, all kinds of stuff!

    Choose this answer if your life was exciting and busy lately. Be ready to give further clarifications.

“How’s it going?”

This question means pretty much the same as “how are you?” so you can apply same phrases here. The additional answer to “how is it going?” may be “it’s going well”. It’s a good answer for clients, coworkers, and people you haven’t seen for some time.

Sometimes all these questions just mean “hello” and in this case, you can correspond with greetings like “hey, how’s it going”, or “how are you?” You can answer like that when you see that people wave you while asking or don’t stop to hear what you will say.