Sesión 5

Learners' Questions

Welcome to Learners' Questions - the series where we answer your queries about the English language. What will this week's learner question be?

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Learners' Questions

How are you? How do you do? 

Ashfaq in Pakistan says: what is the difference between these two sentences: ‘How are you?’ and ‘How do you do?’

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Dan
Hi guys! Dan here for BBC Learning English with this week's Learner Question. Find out what it is after this.

OK! This week's learner question comes from Ashfaq from Pakistan, who says, what is the difference between these two sentences: ‘How are you?’ and ‘How do you do?’

Well, Ashfaq, how do you do is quite formal, and it’s not used much these days. You might possibly use it the first time you meet somebody for business or with somebody very, very important. It’s usually accompanied with a handshake. The response to how do you do is…how do you do, but with a slightly different emphasis. For example, how do you do? How do you do? Did you see the difference? You could also say: I’m pleased to meet you or it’s very nice to meet you.

How are you is used in both informal and formal circumstances. So usually it’s quite a good question to begin a conversation with. It’s a question which asks about the other person’s state of being. But don’t go into too much detail when you give the answer. Standard replies include, very well thank you. I’m fine thanks.

And of course it’s traditional to then return the question to the other person and ask, and yourself? And you? How are you?

Very informal greetings include, hey, hi, hiya, heya, and are often accompanied by questions such as, what’s up? What’s going on? And, How’s things?

Finally, if we’re talking about formal greetings, we should also talk about formal farewells. Again these are usually accompanied with a handshake. And we might say, it was a pleasure meeting you. Or it’s been great meeting you. Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you for your time, Ashfaq. I hope that’s answered your question. If anybody else out there has a question for Learners’ Questions, you can email us on: learning.english@bbc.co.uk. Please remember to include Learners’ Questions in the subject box and your name and the country that you’re writing from. We can’t answer every single question, guys, we just get too many, but we do read every single one. And for more information, go to our website: bbclearningenglish.com. That’s it for this week’s Learners’ Questions. I’ll see you next time.

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Summary

How do you do?
How do you do
 is quite formal and not common these days - usually only when meeting someone for the first time, probably in business circumstances. The response to how do you do is how do you do - though often with a slightly different intonation. Alternatives include: I’m pleased to meet you or it’s very nice to meet you.

How are you?
How are you is used in both informal and formal circumstances. It asks about the other person’s state of being. Standard replies include: very well, thank you. I’m fine thanks.
And of course, it’s traditional to then return the question to the other person and ask, and yourself? And you? How are you?

Informal greetings
Very informal greetings include, hey, hi, hiya, heya, and are often accompanied by questions such as, what’s up? What’s going on? And, how’s things?

Formal farewells
We might say, it was a pleasure to have met you. It’s been great meeting you. Thank you very much for your time.

To do

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Learners’ Questions Quiz

4 Questions

Decide if these sentences are correct or incorrect

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End of Session 5

Well, that's it for this unit! Join us again in Unit 15 for more Exam Skills, News Review, Pronunciation in the News, The Teachers' Room and Learners' Questions!

Sesión de vocabulario

  • How are you?
    Both formal and informal
    Asks about a person's state of being

    How do you do?
    Formal greeting
    The response is how do you do?