“How do you do?” is a formal greeting most commonly heard in middle and upper-class social groups. While it sounds like a question, it is more of a salutation. So, when should you ask this question? And what is the best way to answer? This brief article will outline some examples of asking and answering, “how do you do?”
How Do You Do?
When and Why to Ask “How Do You Do?”
“How do you do?” performs the same function as greetings like “It’s a pleasure to meet you” or “pleased to meet you” which means that it’s not really a question in the truest sense. This is also a very formal way to greet someone, so it’s not always appropriate to use this salutation in non-formal situations. Thankfully there are alternatives you can use in both formal and informal situations.
List of Different Ways to Ask “How Do You Do?”
- Good morning/afternoon/evening! How are you?
- Hey! I’ve been meaning to ask: how have things been going on your side/with you lately/since the last time we talked/etc.?
- How are things coming along for you these days?
- How are things on your side?
- How are things?
- How are you doing?
- How are you feeling?
- How are you holding up?
- How are you today?
- How are you?
- How has your day been so far?
- How have things been going with you?
- How have you been doing lately?
- How have you been?
- How’s everything going?
- How’s everything?
- How’s it going for you?
- How’s it going?
- How’s life been treating you?
- How’s life?
- How’s your day been?
- How’s your day going?
- It’s a pleasure to meet you.
- Nice to meet you!
- Pleased to make your acquaintance.
- What’s been going on?
- What’s been keeping you busy lately?
- What’s been up?
- What’s going on?
- What’s happening?
- What’s new?
- What’s up?
How to Ask and Answer “How Do You Do?” in Different Situations
If you find yourself in a formal situation such as a professional networking event and you need to greet new people “how do you do?” is an acceptable salutation. If you want a slightly less formal alternative that is still suitable for such an event you could say:
- “Pleased to meet you”
- “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
- “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
These alternatives have the benefit of not being phrased as a question, which can reduce the risk of miscommunications. If you use these greetings, people will most often reply with a variation of what you said in return, simplifying the process.
If someone greets you with “how do you do?”, however, there are a few different answers you can give in a formal setting. The most traditional is to simply reply with “how do you do?” in return as this is not really a question. However, you can also answer with:
- “I’m well, and you?”
- “Very well, thank you, how do you do?”
- “Fine thank you – and you?”
Each of these greetings and answers is perfectly acceptable in a formal setting.
If you are in a less formal situation, for example at a birthday party or a similar social event, asking “how do you do?” as a greeting is a little too formal. While it is still perfectly appropriate, there are greetings more suitable for informal situations. For example, you could greet a new person by saying:
- “How are you?”
- “Nice to meet you!”
- “How are things?”
These informal greetings serve the same purpose as “how do you do” while being less formal; this will make you seem approachable. You will also find that new people are likely to greet you using these phrases.
Just as “how do you do?” is more of a statement than a question, these phrases function in the same way. In informal settings, however, it is more likely that an answer will be expected; you can’t just reply “how are you?” to someone who asks “how are things?”. Instead, provide a short, polite reply such as:
- “I’m great, thanks. What about you?”
- “Nice to meet you too!”
- “Things are good, how are you?”
These simple replies can be given without providing too much personal detail and are well-suited to non-formal events and social situations where you might meet new people.
“How do you do?” is a formal, traditional greeting that has stood the test of time in many situations. However, it isn’t always the best way to greet new people because it is so formal that it can sound stuffy or rigid. Preparing a few alternatives for formal and informal situations, such as the examples above, can help you to greet each new person with confidence!
How Do You Do? | Image