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This is what I learned from the middle school English class 10 years ago as the correct way to respond to "How are you?". The textbook was co-published by Longman, I suppose it was British English. When I go abroad I find few people say this.

Is this saying old fashioned or outdated?

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The daft thing about this standard-form greeting & response is that absolutely no-one expects it to be taken at face value. You pretty soon lose friends if you actually mention your current woes. And even if you're currently upbeat because of good things that have happened recently, people often don't want to hear the details. –  FumbleFingers Apr 8 '11 at 16:25
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@Fumble: I buck the system and tell them anyway with absolutely no qualms about being that guy. –  MrHen Apr 8 '11 at 18:11
    
@MrHen: So do I, but they've all asked me to find some new friends online to take up the slack. You wanna hear about my bunions? –  FumbleFingers Apr 8 '11 at 22:05
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Another useful question on pleasantries and greetings in English: "Do you really answer how do you do with how do you do?" –  Uticensis Apr 9 '11 at 1:19
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My mum once visited the doctor who asked her how she was. She replied, "Fine, thanks." And after a pause: "Oh, are you really asking? Well, my..." –  Hugo Jan 29 '13 at 22:33

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I am fine, thank you. And you? is still used, but I consider it to be overly formal. It could also be considered very polite, however, and I would probably use a phrase similar to this as a response when being introduced to someone older than me, like a friend's parent or grandparent, for instance.

In the US, the short version of this phrase is a common response, especially with people you already know or see often: Fine, thanks. You?

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or Good. How are you? (US) –  Sam Apr 8 '11 at 15:55
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@Sam Superman does good. I'm doing fine. –  HaL Apr 8 '11 at 15:57
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@HaL, seriously, I know it's not technically correct to use 'good' in this sense, but colloquially people in the US do it all the time, and it's something non-native speakers should be aware of, to know that they're not being narcissistic. –  Sam Apr 8 '11 at 16:06
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@HaL: You are ignoring that good has many meanings, which include speaking of health and well-being: "14. in excellent condition; healthy: good teeth", "17. cheerful; optimistic; amiable: in good spirits", "18. free of distress or pain; comfortable: to feel good after surgery". –  Kosmonaut Apr 8 '11 at 16:50
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@HaL: Of course you can argue that; you just have to provide the situation. If I'm talking to my friends, family, or co-workers in day-to-day speech, I can say it. If I hear it on television or read it in a book, I readily understand it. If I am writing a formal document or giving a talk, I avoid it. Even dictionaries acknowledge this usage. From the same dictionary site: "Good is common as an adverb in informal speech, especially after forms of do: He did good on the test. She sees good with her new glasses. This use does not occur in formal speech or edited writing...". –  Kosmonaut Apr 8 '11 at 22:03

Strangely, this phrase is in great use but most of the users are new to English. This particular response will almost immediately flag you as learning the language and people will very likely tone down their vocabulary and talking speed in an attempt to make things easier for you. It has the same vibe as, "My name is Matthew. What is your name?" or asking a child, "How old are you? Are you five?"

If you want a more commonplace phrase I think both HaL and snumpy have good suggestions.

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+1 To be more specific, I tend to associate this reply with a typical and irritating standard indian answer. Especially when it comes as "I am fine. And u?”:) –  kellogs Apr 9 '11 at 0:53

While it is a perfectly acceptable answer in both the US and Britain, it is rarely used nowadays. Responses vary wildly depending on where you are and to whom you are speaking (race and age and environment (rural/suburban/urban) all seem to have an effect on the exact rendition of this basic greeting).

I believe the most standard response would be:

Fine, thanks. And you?

Though my generation typically entertains the following salutation:

Sup? (or Whassup?)
Not much. You?
Not much.

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As for many expressions, words, idioms, etc regarding a language, it's also a metter of context and situation.

If you talk to your friends you can even end up saying "Hey, sup?" but with someone you must give respect to, you are much more likely to use the expression you mentioned.

This is not the only thing to consider but I wanted to emphasize it.

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I think so. Here is an article I found about it - http://www.gotravelenglish.com/blog/im-fine-thank-you

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Actually no one ever says "Fine, thanks and you" in America. Everyone one always says "I'm good." I find it funny that the Spanish teachers in the school I work at teach "fine thanks and you."

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