The differences between “How are you doing?” and “How are you?”

The two phrases typically sound the same. But do you know that there’s a significant difference between “how are you?” and “how are you doing?”

Geoffrey Mutie
Geoffrey Mutie

Generally, “how are you doing?” and “how are you?” are two popular daily greeting variations that we use in our text messages and even face-to-face conversations. The two phrases typically sound the same. But do you know that there’s a significant difference between “how are you?” and “how are you doing?”

When to use how are you?

This phrase is usually used when inquiring about someone’s health or feelings. It’s focused more on someone’s personal condition and sounds more formal. How are you is primarily used as a friendly greeting and doesn’t always call for an honest answer. Its response should be brief such that the inquirer can choose whether to ask for extra details or not. On multiple occasions, “how are you” is used when you do not know the person well or just met the person for the first time.

Example sentences include:

Hi, how are you? Have you signed the reports?
Alright, thanks! How are you?
I’m fine, thank you. How are you?

When to use how are you doing?

In contrast, how are you doing is mainly used when inquiring about how someone is progressing with their life, work, project, etc.  Also, in certain contexts, “how are you faring?” can be used alternatively with “how are you doing?” When compared to “how are you?” this phrase sounds more conversational and casual. It’s used when you already know the person you’re inquiring about their progress or you try to act as if you knew them before.

For example:

Hey, you just began broadcasting last week. How are you doing?
Your neighbor told me you moved to a new apartment. How are you doing?
The project report is due this Thursday. How are you doing?
Yesterday you were extremely weak. How are you doing today?

Sometimes in the work context, you need to sound professional with your greeting phrases. Always use “how are you?” in more formal contexts rather than “how are you doing?” and other generic variants such as “how you doing?” or “what are you doing.”

Some more examples:

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JFK (1991)
Finding Sofia (2016)
Fargo (1996)
EnglishIdioms & expressionsWhich is correct

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.


Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.