42

I have observed that people from America, greet by asking, "Hi, how is it going?". I usually say, "It is going good" and return a smile. Sometimes, I have observed people saying "Thank you" and returning the question. What is the proper etiquette here?

closed as primarily opinion-based by user140086, Nathaniel, Brian Hooper, Roaring Fish, Kristina Lopez Dec 22 '15 at 17:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Etiquette is behaviour, not language use, and any answer is going to be a matter of opinion. Please read the guidelines! – Roaring Fish Dec 22 '15 at 13:08
  • Behavior includes language use. – Константин Ван Apr 7 '18 at 20:14
  • i take this question as mild but nevertheless an intrusion to personal area. why people don't see it is inpolitely to ask it of people who they don't know good enough for to ask them about their health. i hardly want to share that if i have good health conditions or bad. which i realize as a synonym for how am i doing. i am doing none of bypassers busyness. let be darn hippy mafia. – user3694243 Dec 23 '18 at 22:49
33

From the sounds of it, you're doing fine. Typical responses would include:

  • Good,
  • Fine,
  • Okay,
  • etc.

The "Thank You" may be appended to your response; its use is intended to thank the person for asking the question (good manners, etc.).

In general, respond with the same, if there is time. Sometimes the question is simply a formality with little to no expectation of a response (as in passing another person on the street with whom you have no relationship), but otherwise the expectation is to return the question, even though there is a high probablity the response will be positive (e.g., Good, Fine, etc.).

Rarely does one respond or hear the response of "bad" because, unfortunately, the question being asked isn't really what the other person is interested in. It's a culturally accepted thing to do, but it really doesn't amount to much more than a "Hi" and "Bye".

Variations on the theme include:

  • How are you?
  • How are you doing?

with similar responses (though "well" will often replace "good").

  • 5
    A fairly common condensation of all this is "fine, thanks; you?". – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '11 at 14:18
13

Technically, "going good" is incorrect grammar; you should use "going well", so "It is going well" is the proper response.

Shorter forms:

  • "Very well, thanks"
  • "Fine, and you?"
8

You are right, that is very common here. The "proper" answer is Fine. or Just fine, thank you.

It is not meant literally, and the questioner usually does not want to hear about whatever may be actually troubling you if you are not feeling "fine".

Even knowing this, greetings like this rather annoy me. I don't like lying if I'm not fine (even though you are supposed to) and answering them honestly requires more self-reflection than I should really have to go through on the spur of the moment just because I bumped into a casual acquaintance. So, even though it isn't proper etiquette, I like to turn it back around on the questioner and make them have to think.

To that end, I like to use these responses:

  • Not bad, but the day is young! (used in the morning)
  • Ehh...could be worse. (If I'm alive to be talking, this is true).
  • Ehh..been worse. (same).
  • Not bad. You? (counter-move)

The last is a personal favorite, because it turns the question completely back to the questioner. At least half the time they don't even notice and don't think to answer.

  • Oh boy, I'm with you on this one. I'm so irritated by the inane greeting 'how are you' that I now take the time to tell them exactly how I am, boring them to death with lengthy description. Seems to have stopped the problem, now people just say hello...much to my relief. – bamboo Nov 2 '13 at 15:30
  • "Can't complain" – endolith Oct 20 '14 at 1:41
  • 1
    @endolith - Not particularly fond of that one, because I damn well can complain (so this doesn't solve my lying issue). I'm just empathetic enough to know that the asker doesn't really want to hear it. – T.E.D. Jun 13 '18 at 19:33
6

In BE a mumbled embarrassed sub-vocalised 'ok'

In AE (Californian) a loud shouted GREAT, WONDERFULL, HOW ARE YOU ?

In AE (New York [Elderly]) a list of your more explicit intestinal symptoms and the doctors prognosis for them

4

How's it going?
Good. You?

4

In America, sometimes people don't even respond directly to this kind of question at all. For instance, I've often heard the following format involving a radio interviewer and his guest:

Interviewer: My guest this morning is Mr X from Company Y, who knows about situation Z.

Guest: Hi, how are you doing?

Interviewer: The first thing I want to ask you is [question]

  • Going in that direction, here's a weird example I saw today on Dude Perfect. It even sounds like the adjudicator is asking the audience how they're doing, which is quite nonsensical. – Michaël Aug 29 at 4:03
1

Other answers here have correctly identified the "usual" response to this question. Something along the lines of "fine", "well", or "good, how about you?"

But, just because these are the usual responses doesn't mean that saying something else would be incorrect. For instance, at work these quick interactions are about all the contact I have with most people. So, all I know about their personality is how they respond. The ones that say something other than "fine" seem a lot more interesting.

As long as you keep your response quick so they don't have to stop and listen, go ahead and say whatever you like. If you're not sure, "fine" works just as well as anything.

1

Respone: "All right. How about you?"

  • 1
    This could do with a bit of fleshing out... it's a bit short as is – AndyT Dec 22 '15 at 11:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.