Almost daily, we’re asked, “How are you?” The question—and its popular variation, “How are you doing?”—appears in emails from strangers & acquaintances & in polite face-to-face conversation. But what bởi we really know about this ubiquitous phrase?
What’s the difference between “How are you” & “How are you doing?”
The phrases sound similar, but in certain contexts, they may have sầu subtly different meanings.
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How are you? makes a slightly more personal inquiry about someone’s health or mood. It focuses on the person’s condition. It’s also a bit more formal than “How are you doing?”
How are you doing? is a general inquiry. It can ask about what’s going on in someone’s environment (similar lớn questions like, “How’s your day been so far?”) or in some contexts can mean “How are you faring?” or “Do you need anything?” (Think of a server approaching your table at a restaurant và asking, “How are we doing here?”) It’s considered a bit more casual và conversational than “How are you?”
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In an audible conversation, the perceived differences between the two phrases can vary regionally. Take this example from a forum discussion on the topic:
In my experience as a native speaker in the Middle Atlantic region . . . “How are you?” is a bland greeting for someone you haven’t seen for a while, while “How are you doing?” . . . may be an actual inquiry. The latter is more comtháng when there is some expectation that the subject might not be doing well.
For example: “Hey, haven’t seen you in ages! How are you?” versus . . . “How are you doing: is the new baby still keeping you up all night?”—cricketswool on English Language và Usage Staông chồng Exchange
When spoken, both phrases convey unique meanings depending on which word is accented. “How are you?” might come across as a one-size-fits-all greeting, but “How are you?” would have sầu a more personal or sincere tone, or even one of concern. A rather flat “How are you doing?” can become outright flirtatious when spoken, “How are you doing?” (especially if you drop the “are” & affect your best Joey Tribianni accent.)
Which is more professional: “How are you?” or “How are you doing?”
When you write an email or other text greetings, the stakes change a bit. Which phrase sounds more professional?
Both phrases are appropriate for work correspondence, but stiông chồng to “How are you?” in more formal settings. It’s also better to lớn use “How are you?” when you don’t know the correspondent very well—it’s generic enough lớn be considered a polite (if rather meaningless) gesture.
Here’s a tip: It’s okay khổng lồ leave “How are you?” unanswered when responding lớn an gmail unless the answer is somehow pertinent.
5 Alternatives to lớn Writing “How are you doing?” and “How are you?” in Email
Because they’re so ubiquitous, these phrases can disappear inlớn the background or, worse, sound lượt thích insincere filler. And yet, sometimes you want lớn start an email with a bit of polite banter. Here are a few options.
1 It was fun khổng lồ bump inlớn you at
. Did you come away as fired up as I did?
If you know your tương tác, consider starting with something more personalized. A shared experience like a conference is always a good starting point, particularly if it’s relevant to lớn the conversation to lớn follow. Look for comtháng ground và start from there.
2 I hope your day has been upbeat and productive sầu.
Who doesn’t want an upbeat, productive sầu day? Think about the other person’s work setting và come up with a few fun or clever ways to wish them well. Another example would be . . .
3 Are the ideas flowing along with the coffee?
Try something like this out on a Monday morning to lớn beat the back-to-work doldrums.
4I enjoyed your about
If you follow your tương tác on Twitter or keep an eye on their blog, you can’t thua thảm with a phản hồi about their professional tweet or post. Just make sure your phản hồi is a natural lead-in to lớn the topic of your tin nhắn or your bình luận will seem irrelevant.
You don’t have khổng lồ start with any friendly preamble. In fact, people who receive a lot of tin nhắn will appreciate you getting straight lớn the point.
3 Ways khổng lồ answer “How are you?” in Conversation
Most people agree it’s best not lớn take “How are you?” too literally. Although everyone asks, few people want you khổng lồ recite a laundry các mục of the day’s events or personal struggles. Context clues will tell you whether the person asking is making a sincere inquiry about your welfare or just engaging in polite chit-chat.
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1 I’m fine, thanks. How are you?
By far the most socially acceptable response to lớn “How are you?” is “Fine, thanks” with a reciprocal, “How are you?”
Here’s a tip: In many cultures, “How are you?” & “Fine, thanks; và you?” are treated as a polite social interaction and nothing more. Similar exchanges happen in other cultures. In Đài Loan Trung Quốc, people often greet one another with, “Hello! Have you eaten?” The answer is always a polite yes, regardless of your current state of hunger, và never an enthusiastic, “I could eat!”
2 I’m having one of those days. How about you?
This type of exchange is appropriate if you’ve come upon someone who seems lớn be having a challenging day và you want to nói qua a little friendly commiseration. Be warned, though, that if the other person isn’t also having “one of those days,” you might seem as though you’re fishing for attention.
3Happier than a seagull with a french fry!
If you’re in a good mood, there’s nothing wrong with sharing it. You might brighten someone’s day in the process. Can you think of a few clever similes to make your own?