Stop Asking “What Do You Do?”! 10+ Better Questions You Can Use Instead

Asking someone “what do you do?” is a common way to initiate conversation and get to know someone better. It’s a simple question that can yield a wealth of information about a person’s career, interests, and goals. However, there are many different ways to ask this question, and it’s important to choose the right one depending on the context and the level of formality.

List of Ways to Ask and Answer “What Do You Do?”

Ways to ask “what do you do?”

  • What is your job?
  • What do you work as?
  • What is your profession?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your career?

Idiomatic expression with the same meaning

An idiomatic expression is a group of words that, when used together, have a meaning that is different from the individual words themselves. Here are five idiomatic expressions that have the same meaning as “what do you do?”:

  • What keeps you busy these days?

This is a casual way of asking someone what they do for work. It is appropriate for informal or everyday conversation.

  • What’s your line of work?

This is a more formal way of asking someone what they do for a living. It is appropriate for formal or professional settings.

  • What’s your gig?

This is a casual way of asking someone what they do for work. It is appropriate for informal or everyday conversation.

  • What’s your bread and butter?

This is a colloquial way of asking someone what they do for a living. It refers to the main source of income or livelihood.

  • What do you do for a living?

This is a common way of asking someone what they do for work. It is appropriate for most settings and is suitable for both formal and informal contexts.

How to answer to the question “what do you do?”

  • Be concise

Keep your answer short and to the point. You don’t need to go into too much detail, especially if the question is being asked in a casual or social setting.

  • Be clear

Make sure that your answer is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms unless the person asking the question is familiar with them.

  • Use specific language

Rather than saying “I work in the business field,” consider saying “I work as a financial analyst for a bank.” This gives the person asking the question more information about what you do.

  • Be positive

Even if you don’t particularly enjoy your job, try to talk about it in a positive way. This shows that you are a professional and takes the conversation in a more positive direction.

  • Use examples

If you can, use examples to illustrate what you do. This helps to give the person asking the question a better understanding of your job and responsibilities.

Using Other Ways to Ask “what do you do?”

Formal situations

In formal situations (such as an email or other formal setting), it is best to use more traditional and formal ways of asking “what do you do?”, such as:

  • What is your job?
  • What do you work as?
  • What is your profession?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your career?

Informal situations

Whereas, In informal situations (such as texting or daily conversation), it is more appropriate to use more casual and colloquial expressions, such as:

  • What keeps you busy these days?
  • What’s your line of work?
  • What’s your gig?
  • What’s your bread and butter?
  • What do you do for a living?

It is important to consider the context and the relationship between the people involved when choosing which way to ask “what do you do?”. In formal settings or with people you don’t know well, it is best to use more traditional and formal ways of asking the question. In informal or casual settings with people you know well, it is more appropriate to use more casual and colloquial expressions.

Using Other Ways to Answer to “what do you do?”

In formal situations

In formal situations (such as an email or other formal setting), it is best to use more traditional and formal ways of answering “what do you do?”, such as:

  • I work as a [job title].
  • I am a [profession].
  • My job is [brief description of job].

For example:

In a formal setting, you might say: “I work as a marketing manager at a software company.”

In informal situations

In informal situations (such as texting or daily conversation), it is more appropriate to use more casual and colloquial responses, such as:

  • I’m in the [industry] industry.
  • I’m a [job title].
  • I do [brief description of job].

For example:

In an informal setting, you might say: “I’m in the marketing industry. I work as a marketing manager at a software company.”

Learn more with different ways to ask and answer to “what are you doing?” in the English language.

Conclusion

In conclusion, asking and answering the question “what do you do?” is a common way to initiate conversation and get to know someone better. There are many different ways to ask and answer this question, and it’s important to choose the right one depending on the context and the level of formality. In formal settings or with people you don’t know well, it is best to use more traditional and formal ways of asking and answering the question. In informal or casual settings with people you know well, it is more appropriate to use more casual and colloquial expressions. Regardless of the specific words used, it is important to be concise, clear, and positive in your response, and to use specific language to describe your job and responsibilities.

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