I've noticed that many native speakers drop the words "are" and "is" when writing informally. For example:

  • How you doing? (instead of "how are you doing")
  • What you up to? (Instead of "what are you up to")
  • What you doing? (Instead of "what are you doing")

How common is this and is it okay to speak like that in informal situations?

  • "Hwatcha doin'" is not a grammatical sentence per se -- It's a simplified utterance of the well-understood phrase "What are you doing?" Just as the final consonant in doing is not pronounced, the final consonant of what is merged with are you and uttered as "tcha". As it is a familiar phrase, it works. Grammar has no role here. – Kris Dec 10 '18 at 7:52
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    "English" always has an initial capital. – Kris Dec 10 '18 at 7:53
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    Possible duplicate of Is it appropriate to express a sentence without verb? – Laurel Dec 10 '18 at 8:54
  • @Kris As per usual, "grammar" is a bit nebulous, but there is a grammar governing drops/contractions here. – Azor Ahai Dec 10 '18 at 17:25

It depends a lot on what region of English you are asking about and what specific dialect. African American Vernacular (AAV), for example, follows this pattern frequently, even in semi-formal speech. However, some other dialects do not.

Personally, I am a fairly young person (mid 20s) raised and living in the northeast US, and I say something similar to these, but not exact. While I would never say "What you doing?" I commonly say and hear around me "Whatcha doing?" where the contraction "Whatcha" has absorbed the "What are you"


The key to your question is the word informally. These were originally regional usages, that have become more common through Social Media venues. There is just enough of the main elements, with minimal 'thumb action' to write & send as a message. They are lazy English structures that pass informally as acceptable. The basic meaning is still there, and is generally used with people you are have a social familiarity with, who would find it acceptable. It is defined as being Terse, with positive and negative distinctions: Terse: ADJECTIVE- sparing in the use of words; abrupt. - curt · brusque · summary · condensed · clipped · blunt · gruff · short · brief...

  • Norman, these simple contractions weren't originally regional: as the common vernacular, they were commonly used and understood in most English-speaking countries long before social media. The genuinely regional contractions go much further than omitting the verb: e.g. howdy ("how do you do"), sup ("what's up"), etc. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 13 '18 at 3:34

I suppose it's common, but it isn't proper English and it makes the speaker sound uneducated.

I recommend trying to use contractions instead of omitting the verb.

"How're you doing?" instead of "How you doing?" "What're you up to?" instead of "What you up to?" "What're you doing?" instead of "What you doing?"

  • Those are colloquial and need no grammarizing. – Kris Dec 11 '18 at 7:02

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