Learning how to say how are you in any language is always useful as a way to greet someone and progress a basic conversation.
However, when learning German it is important to know that the question how are you cannot really be used as a casual greeting. The way it is often used in English is as a substitute for hello when you meet someone.
German speakers will take the question how are you seriously and often actually respond with an honest and in-depth answer to the question.
Therefore, if you want to go beyond a casual greeting and ignite a conversation, an easy way to do that is to ask how are you in German.
This guide will break down the many ways you can ask how are you in German as well as the context around each one and even how to respond best to the question.
How Are You in German at a Glance
- Wie geht’s? – How’s it going?
- Wie geht’s dir? – How are you?
- Wie geht’s Ihnen? – How are you (formal)
- Wie geht’s Euch? – How are you?
- Alles gut? – Everything good?
- Alles okay? – Everything ok?
- Was ist los? – What’s up?
- Was geht ab? – What’s up?
- Was macht die Arbeit / die Familie / das Haus? – How is your work/your family/the house?
- Na? – So?
- Und? – And?
All the Ways to Say How Are You in German
Wie Geht’s? – Informal “How Are You” in German
The most commonly used “how are you” expression in German is “wie geht’s?”.
The literal translation of “wie geht’s?” is “how does it go?” and it can be used with most people.
However, “wie geht’s?” is an informal phrase and so is best used when talking with people you know, such as a friend.
Examples of when you might use this phrase are when meeting someone for the first time, or when addressing someone who you meet repeatedly.
The useful thing about “wie geht’s?” is that it can be used when talking to one person and when talking to a group of people, making it versatile and therefore good to remember.
Wie Geht’s Dir? – Informal “How Are You” in German
A variation of “wie geht’s?” and another way to say “how are you” in German is “wie geht’s dir?”.
“Wie geht’s?” is actually the shorter, more informal version of “wie geht’s dir?” and so they both have the same meaning.
You would use “wie geht’s dir?” if you want to be slightly less informal, however “wie geht’s dir?” is still an informal phrase.
Therefore you would still use “wie geht’s dir?” with someone you already know and not when you want to ask “how are you” in a polite situation or to someone you do not know.
Also, “wie geht’s dir?” is only used when addressing a singular person and isn’t used when talking to a group as a whole.
Wie Geht’s Ihnen? – Formal “How Are You” in German
A formal variation of the “how are you” phrase, “wie geht’s dir?” is “wie geht’s Ihnen?”.
Since “wie geht’s Ihnen?” is a formal phrase, you would use this in circumstances when you are not familiar with the person you are asking “how are you” to.
A good example of when you would use “wie geht’s Ihnen?” is when you meet someone for the first time and want to ask them how they are.
The use of the word “Ihnen” gives the phrase its formality and is used across the German language for formal phrases. Similarly “dir” is used for phrases when they are less formal.
Wie Geht’s Euch? – “How Are You” for Groups in German
The fourth and final “how are you” variation of “wie geht’s” is “wie geht’s euch”.
This version of “how are you” can be used when speaking to multiple people at once in an informal way.
For example, you would ask “wie geht’s euch” to a group of your friends if you want to ask them generally how they all are without having to ask each specific person.
Alles Gut? – “Everything good?” in German
Another very common way to ask “how are you” is to say “alles gut?” which actually means “everything good?” in German.
This phrase is so easy to remember due to the fact it sounds like you are saying “all’s good?” in English, and that is because you basically are.
“Alles gut?” is a great phrase since you can use it in formal and informal contexts and when speaking to a group or when asking one person if everything is okay.
This means if you are not sure which “how are you” phrase to use, “alles gut?” will work no matter what.
Alles okay? – “Everything okay?” in German
Yes, that’s right “alles okay?” simply means “is everything okay?” and is another handy phrase to know in German.
However, when asking “alles okay?” to someone, it would seem that you think everything is not okay with them, hence why you are asking.
Therefore asking “alles okay?” or “everything okay?” could lead to a longer answer than you may be hoping for.
As with “alles gut?”, “alles okay?” can be used in any context or situation.
Was ist los? – “What Is Up?” in German
“Was ist los?” is another “how are you” phrase that means “what is up?” or “what is happening?” and can be used in the same way you would use “what’s up” in English.
Although it can be used as a general “how are you?” question, it works best when asking what is going on with someone, or a group of people.
For example, you could ask “was ist los?” to a person who is clearly upset or visibly crying, but you could also ask “was ist los?” to a group of people laughing to ask them what they are finding so funny.
Was Geht Ab? – “What’s Up?” in German
An even more informal “what’s up” phrase that is often used by teenagers is “was geht ab?”.
This phrase is a causal and colloquial way of asking “what’s up?” to someone. You would use “was geht ab?” when talking to close friends.
“Was geht ab?” doesn’t actually require an answer and is often just used as an introductory greeting similar to how “what’s up” is used in the United States.
Was Macht Die Arbeit? – “How’s Work Going?” (And Others) in German
If you want to know how someone is in a specific sense, then you can ask various phrases like “was macht die arbeit?”, which means “how is work going?”.
Other common questions similar to this are “was macht die familie” meaning “how’re things with your family” or “was macht das haus?” which translates to “how is the house?”.
These phrases allow you to show off your vocabulary and also demonstrate your German manners while also initiating interesting conversation starters that aren’t too deep.
One of the most versatile and useful words in German is “na?” which translates to “so?”.
“Na?” can be used in endless contexts, whether you want to initiate a conversation after a lull, if you want to indicate that you want to leave a restaurant or even if you want to incite a response from someone about a topic they are yet to spill the beans on.
Asking “na?” to someone in German can either open the conversation floodgates or simply be met with no answer at all, depending on who you ask and the context you ask it in.
“Na” is a great German word to learn as it can be used on its own or to form part of other phrases and expressions.
Another useful and really easy-to-learn word, which can be used with “how are you” phrases, is “und?”.
You have probably guessed or simply know already that “und” translates to “and”. “Und” is a very common German word and is so close to the English word “and” that it is almost impossible to forget.
Interestingly “und?” can be used in the same way as “na?” to fill in silence or keep a conversation going by encouraging people to keep on speaking.
If you want to get people to elaborate on their answers when you ask them how they are, you can say “und?” to try to get more details from them.
Respond to How Are You in German
Of course, when speaking German, you will not always be asking other people how they are. Therefore it is important to know different responses so you can reply when people ask you how you are in German.
Take a look at some of the different options below:
- I’m good, how are you? = Mir geht’s gut, und dir?
- Super = Super
- Amazing = Toll
- Great = Großartig
- Everything is well = Alles gut
- Everything is ok = Alles klar
- It’s ok = Geht so
- It’s going so so = So lala
- Bad = Schlecht
- Terrible = Schrecklich
You can pair up any of the questions with any of the answers here and mix and match your response depending on how you feel.
How Are You – Video Guide
How Are You in German – Final Thoughts
Now that you know how to ask someone how they are in German you can start conversations and get to know people more.
Don’t forget, you can pair up phrases from this guide to make more complex sentences. This can actually make for some fun exchanges, such as “Na, alles klar?” meaning “so, all is okay?” and “Ja, so lala, geht so” meaning “yes, it’s going so-so, it’s okay”.
Of course, the best way to really learn German is to get out there and have conversations with real people and since you now know how to say “how are you” you can really get practicing.
But remember, you can’t just keep asking every German you see how they are unless you know you have the hours to spare to listen to all their responses!
How to Say – No in German
How to Say – You’re Welcome