When someone asks, "How are you?" are you supposed to answer, "Good," or "Fine," and ask back?
Yes. Depending on where you are in the English-speaking world and on your relationship with the other person, you might reply with any of the following:
- I'm fine, thank you.
- I'm good. You?
- Doing great! And how are you?
- Good. Doing okay?
Certainly, several other possible permutations. No response at all would be considered rude anywhere. Just saying, "Fine," in response without a "thank you" or a reciprocal question would also be considered brusque, standoffish or rude; or the asker may simply conclude you are in a bad mood. The first response is the norm in places or cases where the respondent does not deem it polite or appropriate to respond in kind with a "How are you?"
Situations where it is appropriate to reciprocate:
- meeting a friend in the street
- speaking to a colleague at the watercooler
- a conversation with an acquaintance at a social event
Situations where it is appropriate not to reciprocate:
- visiting the doctor
- when asked by a shop assistant
- being greeted at a formal social occasion