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I've heard a lot of times already, that there is a major difference between saying

"How are you?"

and

"How are you doing?"

Is that true? I've heard one was like an extension of "Hello" and does not mean anything, so you should not answer it with "Fine, thank you. What about you?", but also with "How are you (doing)?" - I just don't remember which of them means what?

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6  
If you've been told by lots of people that they think there's some fundamental difference, presumably for them that's true. I don't agree, but maybe I'm the only English-speaking person on the planet who sees no meaningful difference. –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '12 at 21:43
    
Agree with @Fumble: There is not a dime's worth of difference between the two. –  Robusto Jul 6 '12 at 22:00
1  
Isn't there a difference in how they are used? The Queen might ask How are you?, but never How are you doing? But perhaps this is veering towards etiquette, which is off-topic. –  TimLymington Jul 6 '12 at 22:10
1  
@TimLymington: In retrospect I didn't phrase that well. I should have said there's no difference in meaning as such. I quite agree that adding "doing" marks the greeting as very informal and/or the greeter as "common", but that's got nothing to do with whether an answer is expected. –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '12 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 18 down vote accepted

In England, "How do you do?" was until recently a commonplace greeting. The correct response was, "How do you do?" This may be what you're thinking of.

Both "How are you?" and "How are you doing?" should generally be taken as a question, to which the reply is often, "Fine, thanks!" or, more formally, "Very well, thank you." However, the whole thing continues to confuse even English people, let alone visitors.

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4  
I agree, except that I would say "should generally be taken as a question, to which no meaningful reply is expected." –  MT_Head Jul 8 '12 at 4:58

There's no real difference between 'How are you?' and 'How are you doing?' except the first asks for a statement of condition and the second asks for a statement of your fortunes. A reply to 'How are you?' should not sound like a list of medical ailments, misfortunes or stock market winnings. A simple 'Couldn't be better!' is better. For a reply to 'How are you doing?'a quick and positive answer is 'Never better!' These replies strike a note of cautious optimism and they are far more original than 'Fine, thanks.'

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protected by RegDwigнt May 11 '13 at 4:57

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