Do you know the phrases you can use to ask “how are you” in German? This simple question can be phrased differently depending on the situation and your relationship with the interlocutor. In this compilation, we will look at ways to express your care and interest in someone in German and explain how to respond if the question is directed at you.

“How are you?” in German

The simplest way to ask this question in German is “Wie geht es dir?”

— Wie geht es dir? — How are you?
— Alles gut, danke. — All good, thank you.

However, this version is only suitable if you are on familiar terms with the person. For more formal communication, where you address each other as “Sie,” you should use a more polite variant with the corresponding pronoun — “Wie geht es Ihnen?” It is also important to remember that this pronoun is always capitalized in German.

In German, all nouns are capitalized without exception. Why this is the case is explained in our separate article.

In informal communication and especially in spoken language, the pronoun ‘es‘ is often abbreviated to ‘s with an apostrophe. Therefore, in live communication with Germans, you will most often hear:

— Wie geht’s dir?

Or simply:

— Wie geht’s?

However, this abbreviation is not used in polite address.

There is another informal version mostly used among the youth. In this case, instead of the interrogative word wie and the indefinite pronoun es, the word was, which serves as the subject, is used:

— Was geht denn?

Or simply:

— Was geht?

Another way to ask how things are going in German is to use the verb laufen instead of gehen. Laufen is a strong verb, so its third-person form will be written with an umlaut:

— Wie läuft es?/ Wie läuft’s?

Additionally, there is a humorous rhyming phrase that Germans use with each other in informal settings:

— Wie geht’s, wie steht’s? (loosely translated as “How’s life going?”)

How to Express Concern in German

The expressions listed above are mostly a formal way to start a dialogue. However, if we have already noticed a problem and want to make sure everything is alright with the interlocutor, we might need other expressions, namely:

— Was ist los? — What’s wrong?
— Was ist passiert? — What happened?
— Ist alles in Ordnung? — Is everything alright?
— Geht es dir gut?/ Geht es Ihnen gut? — Are you okay?/ Are you okay?
— Alles klar? — Everything alright?

Formal Expressions

In some situations, such as when writing a business letter, it is necessary to formally inquire about a person’s state or express hope that everything is fine with them:

— Ich hoffe, dass bei Ihnen alles gut geht. — I hope all is well with you.
— Ich hoffe, dass diese Nachricht Sie wohlauf erreicht./ Ich hoffe, dass diese Nachricht Sie gut findet. — I hope all is well with you. (lit.: I hope this letter finds you in good condition.)

How to Respond to “How are you?” in German

As we mentioned earlier, such a question is often formal and therefore does not require a detailed answer. In most cases, you can stick with ready-made polite phrases:

— Mir geht es gut, und wie geht es dir/ Ihnen? — I’m fine, and how are you?
— Mir geht es super, danke. — I’m doing great, thank you.
— Alles gut, danke. — All good, thank you.
— Alles in Ordnung, danke. — Everything’s fine, thank you.

However, if you are talking with friends and do not want to hide your bad mood or wish to share problems, you can be honest:

— Na ja, könnte besser sein. — Well, it could be better.
— Heute eigentlich nicht so gut. — Actually, not so good today.
— Es läuft nicht so gut. — Things are not going so well.
— Es geht. — It’s so-so.

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Dialogues on the Topic

Here is an example of a conversation between two friends who are interested in each other’s affairs. Note that in this case, the interlocutors address each other informally.

— Hallo Peter, wie geht es dir? — Hello Peter, how are you?
— Hallo Laura, mir geht es super, danke! Und wie geht es dir? Ist alles in Ordnung? Du siehst müde aus. — Hello Laura, I’m doing great, thank you! And how are you? Is everything okay? You look tired.
— Na ja, es läuft eigentlich nicht so gut. Ich habe immer viel zu tun für mein Studium. — Well, it’s not going so well. I always have a lot to do for my studies.

Here’s a conversation between two colleagues who address each other formally:

— Guten Morgen, Frau Altman, wie geht es Ihnen? — Good morning, Mrs. Altman, how are you?
— Guten Morgen, Herr Pitck, mir geht es gut, und wie geht es Ihnen? — Good morning, Mr. Pitck, I’m fine, and how are you?
— Mir geht es auch gut, danke. — I’m also fine, thank you.

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