sorry for probably similar questions were already asked but I can't find exactly this:

If I'm greeted by "How are you?", should I answer with "Fine, thanks, and you" as school books usually suggest?

My sister insists that "Fine" is really unnecessary as it is more the form of greeting and no one expects that I answer "too bad" or "I'm bored" :)

So is it OK to answer anything of hello-ish kind, even the same question. Would the dialog be normal in form:

A: Hi Jake, How ARE you?
B: Hey Jim, and how are YOU?

or even

A: How are you, Mr. Somewhatson?
B: Wow, just extremely glad to see you!

e.g. without any words confirming that "yes, I'm fine, in case you really want to know"... And even - is it better if it is ok?

  • 1
    Though it may be going the way of 'Howdy!' and 'How do you do!' (into what is largely a greeting rather than a polite enquiry into one's wellbeing), I'd say most people still intend and interpret it as the polite enquiry. Answering accordingly can never be considered impolite. But neither would your answers. But be prepared for someone showing real concern to re-ask 'Yes, but really, how are you?' Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 19:29
  • Yes, if it is a friend greeting you with "how are you?" you can say just about anything and it's more tone of voice and how you make eye contact. (you could probably even high five them and say "you shithead" in an endearing way) ... although if it would asked by a superior or someone you aren't close to "fine thanks , how about you?" would be better.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


When dealing with anyone you do not know extremely well, it is never wrong to be correct.

Being correct means you will respond to any query about your well-being. And, you will reciprocate.

Good morning, Jim, are are you?

Quite well, thank you, Bob. And you?

is good short form of correctness.

Greetings should never include anything negative, except in very unusual circumstances. If you cannot bring yourself to say "Quite well, thank you", you can smile and say:

Better than I deserve, thank you

Again, it will never be wrong to be correct. No matter what some others may seem to be doing, be correct. You will, on balance, make a better impression on people if you are.

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