In English, the phrase “How are you?” (or some variant) comes at the beginning of almost every conversation. Whether you just met someone, run into a friend or you’re sending a work email to someone you haven’t even met face to face, you will always find yourself asking this one thing. Of course, you might ask some variant, like “How’s it going?” or even “How ya goin’?” (if there any Australians reading this). In Spanish, the first translation for “how are you” that most people learn is is: ¿cómo estás? But, there are lots of ways to ask how are you in Spanish! It all depends on the context and the country. Here are all the ways to ask “How are you?” in Spanish with plenty of examples, so you know exactly when and how to use these expressions. Here are all the ways you can express it, with a rough English equivalent for each one.
In English, the phrase “How are you?” (or some variant) comes at the beginning of almost every conversation. Whether you just met someone, run into a friend or you’re sending a work email to someone you haven’t even met face to face, you will always find yourself asking this one thing.
Of course, you might ask some variant, like “How’s it going?” or even “How ya goin’?” (if there any Australians reading this).
In Spanish, the first translation for “how are you” that most people learn is is: ¿cómo estás? But, there are lots of ways to ask how are you in Spanish! It all depends on the context and the country.
Here are all the ways to ask “How are you?” in Spanish with plenty of examples, so you know exactly when and how to use these expressions.
Here are all the ways you can express it, with a rough English equivalent for each one.
Below there’s more detail on each Spanish phrase that means “How are you?”.
Q: ¿Cómo estás? or ¿Cómo está?
Q: How are you?
A: Good and you?
¿Cómo estás? is the most widespread version of “How are you?”, and you can use it in almost every context. It also works in every Spanish-speaking country.
Keep in mind that ¿cómo estás? uses the pronoun tú (you), and it should be used only in informal situations, such as with friends, young people, children… people you know well!
The decision on using tú vs usted is relatively simple. If you’re addressing someone formally, then you should switch to the formal pronoun usted, and say: ¿cómo está? You can use this expression in formal situations such as in a job interview, in a bank, with elderly people or whomever you feel you shouldn’t treat too casually.
Another conjugation you might want to know is that for the plural second person: ¿cómo están? (or ¿cómo estáis? in Spain). Use it when talking to two or more people!
Finally, if they ask you ¿Cómo estás?, an appropriate response might be Muy bien, ¿y tú? (“Very good, how about you?”). If talking in a formal context, then it would be: Muy bien, ¿y usted?
Read next: 4 Ways to Say How Are You Feeling in Spanish
¿Cómo te va?
Q: ¿Cómo te va?
Q: How’s it going?
¿Cómo te va? is not the literal translation of how are you? A more accurate translation of this expression could be “How is it going?” Also, keep in mind that ¿cómo te va? is more informal than ¿cómo estás?
You can use this question to ask the person how they’re doing, but you can also use it to ask about something more specific. For example, if you run into a friend you haven’t seen for a long time, you could simply ask ¿cómo te va?, but you could also ask ¿cómo te va con el trabajo? (“How’s your work going?”) or ¿cómo te va con tus clases de natación? (“How are your swimming lessons going?”).
A warning! Some Spanish speakers may complicate this question a bit more, and ask: ¿Cómo te está yendo? An answer to this question could be: me está yendo bien (“I’m doing well!”), but you can always simply say bien. You won’t necessarily hear this in every region, though.
Read next: I Love You in Spanish – 7 Heartfelt Ways to Express Love
Q: ¡Hola! ¿Cómo andas?
A: ¡Bien! ¿Y tú?
Q: How are you? (lit how are you walking?)
Another way to ask how are you doing in Spanish is ¿cómo andas? Literally, andar means “to walk” or “to go”, but if someone asks you cómo andas, they’re not asking you about the way you walk, but how you are.
This question is particularly used in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Spain. But, keep in mind that Argentina and Uruguay use voseo. Wait… what is voseo? It refers to the pronoun vos, a substitute for tú, the singular second person pronoun used in other countries.
For example: if you want to say “You eat”, you must say vos comés (noting the accent on the final syllable) instead of tú comes. Therefore, in that South American region the correct question would be ¿Cómo andás?, with a stress on the final “a”. Also, the answer will not be bien, ¿y tú?, but bien, ¿y vos?
Extra tip: It is common in some Spanish-speaking countries for people to ask the question in the first person plural. If you are in Argentina, for example, someone might asks you: ¿Cómo andamos? (“How are we?”) even though they’re actually asking how you are.
Q: ¡Eh! ¿Qué pasa?
A: ¿Qué pasa, tío?
Q: What’s happening / what’s up?
¿Qué pasa? is very common in Spain, but not so much in Latin American countries. It literally means “What’s happening?” or “What’s going on”. In a greeting context, it means something like “What’s up?”.
This expression is very colloquial. If you meet a friend on the street while you are walking around Barcelona, and he says ¡Eh! ¿Qué pasa, tío?, you don’t need to give an answer. You can simply respond with another ¿Qué pasa?
But, overall, you shouldn’t use ¿qué pasa? as a greeting in Latin America. Someone might interpret that you are actually asking “What is happening?”, and they could ask you back ¿qué pasa con qué? (“What about what?”).
Q: ¿Qué hay?
Q: What’s new?
Another way to ask how are you in Spanish in a conversation with local people is ¿qué hay? , meaning something like “What’s new?”.
This question can be used in colloquial conversations. When someone asks you ¿qué hay?, they aren’t necessarily wondering what is actually new. It is a catchphrase to start a talk, or simply to greet someone.
If you ask ¿Qué hay?, the answer you will get could be no mucho, ¿y tú? (“Not too much [going on], what about you?”).
For more informal slang ways to say how are you in Spanish, check out the video below.
¿Qué hay de nuevo?
Q: ¿Qué hay de nuevo, amigo?
Q: What’s new friend?
If you still aren’t feeling any of these expressions and want another way In this case, the question ¿qué hay de nuevo? literally means “What’s new?”. An answer you could get is aquí ando, which means something like “Hanging in there”, or “Same old, same old”.
Curious fact: in both Latin America and Spain, Bugs Bunny’s catchphrase is: ¿Qué hay de nuevo, viejo?
Q: Hola, ¿qué tal?
Q: How are you?
This simple phrase is widely used in all Spanish-speaking countries, and it can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
You can also say ¿qué tal estás? (tú) or ¿qué tal están? (ustedes).
Tal comes from the Latin “talis” and refers to the special quality of things. Therefore, ¿qué tal? technically means something like “What is your current state?”.
¿Qué tal todo? / ¿Qué tal va todo?
Q: ¿Qué tal va todo?
Q: How’s everything going?
Someone might also ask you ¿qué tal todo? or ¿qué tal va todo? These are some variants of the question ¿qué tal?
¿Cómo van las cosas?
Q: ¿Cómo van las cosas?
Q: How are things going?
¿Cómo van las cosas? is something you could ask someone with whom you have some confidence. It means “How are things going?” or “How do things go?”.
When they ask you ¿cómo van las cosas?, they are inviting you to briefly tell how your things are: your family, your job, your studies, your health… It is a very common way to start a conversation.
¿Cómo va todo?
Q: ¿Cómo va todo?
Q: How is everything going?
This expression is similar to ¿cómo van las cosas? While todo means “everything”, you don’t need to do a monologue about how you are doing in every single aspect of your life. You can respond with a simple muy bien, gracias (“Very good, thank you!”).
Q: ¿Cómo va?
Q: How’s it going?
This question is similar to ¿Cómo te va?, but it is substantially more informal. It is common to use it among people who have a lot of confidence. It is very common in countries like Argentina and Uruguay, where the pronoun “vos” replaces “tú”.
Q: ¿Qué onda?
Q: What’s up?
This question is very popular among young people – in fact it’s used almost exclusively by younger people. Using this phrase with elderly people or people from your work environment is probably not a good idea.
Onda means “wave;” However, this expression means “What’s up?” This informal greeting is mostly used in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala and Chile.
Q: ¿Todo bien?
Q: All good?
So you came in here wondering how to say how are you in Spanish? As you can see so far, there are lots of ways! And if you want to sound like a local, you must learn about ¿todo bien? , which literally means “All good?”.
If someone asks you that, you can answer Todo bien, ¿y tú? or with Todo bien, gracias.
Q: ¿Qué cuentas?
A: No mucho, la verdad.
Q: What’s new? (What can you tell me?
This question is used to ask a person what’s new. The verb contar, in this case, means to tell: “What can you tell me?”
You can also use the variant ¿qué te cuentas? or you can even say ¿qué me cuentas?, especially if you are going to gossip: ¿qué me cuentas de la vecina? (“What can you tell me about the neighbor?”).
¿Cómo te trata la vida?
It literally means: “How’s life treating you?” And yes, it’s a pretty broad question. Some possible answers could be bien, mal, or no me puedo quejar (“I can’t complain”).
Sometimes, if you have been doing something new, the question could become: ¿cómo te trata el nuevo empleo? (“How is your new job treating you?”) or ¿cómo te trata la paternidad? (“How is being a dad treating you?”).
Q: ¿Qué hubo?
Q: What’s up?
In countries like Colombia or Panama ¿qué hubo? is a very common slang greeting. It is similar to ¿qué hay?, although it literally means “What was there?” or “What happened?” When someone asks you ¿qué hubo?, they will normally do it very quickly. In fact, it might sound something like “¿Qubo?”.
Read next: Critical Colombian Slang — The 15+ Essentials for Learners
Q: ¿Qué hacés?
Q: What’s up?
¿Qué hacés? literally means “What are you doing?”. It is especially common In Argentina and Uruguay (countries that mostly use voseo – vos instead of tú). There, in some contexts, it can also mean “How are you?”
Typically, this phrase is used as a greeting. Therefore, there is no real intention to know how the other person is, but rather it would mean a simple “Hi!”
¿Qué es de tu vida?
Q: ¿Qué es de tu vida?
A: Bueno, comencé un curso de pastelería…
Q: What’s going on with your life?
This is a phrase that you can typically use when you haven’t seen a person for a long period of time and actually want to know what they’ve been up to. It literally means “What’s going on with your life?”
It’s a fairly broad question that invites us to talk about the current state of things: work, family, activities, studies, travels, and so on.
There are lots of ways to ask how are you in Spanish. The one you will choose will depend on the level of familiarity you have with the other person and the place where you are.
Spanish is the official language of more than 20 countries, and each of them has its own regionalisms. If you’re travelling to a Spanish-speaking country, we recommend you to do a little research.
For now, you already know 18 ways to ask how you are in Spanish. ¡Buena suerte!
Sofía is a writer and copy editor from Argentina. She studied Art History in college, has a master's degree in Journalism and is currently working on her PhD on Literature and Cultural Critique.