11 Ways To Say ‘How Are You?’ In German [& How To Respond]

how are you in german

There are many different ways to ask ‘how are you?’ in German, just like there are many ways to say hello or goodbye.

Asking someone how they are is probably the second thing you’ll say after meeting someone or starting a phone call with them. It’s normally reserved for someone you already know, rather than a first meeting.

Top tip: Be aware that when you ask a German speaker how they are, you will get a detailed answer. German speakers don’t ask this as an empty question without expecting an answer. They genuinely want to know how you are feeling. This differs to English where we often ask ‘how are you?’ and just expect a short answer.

After reading this post you will know:

  • How to say ‘how are you?’ in German in both formal and informal situations
  • How to ask how someone else is in German (a friend, parent etc.)
  • How to respond if someone asks you ‘how are you?’

How to Say ‘How Are You?’ in German [Formal & Informal]

Before we dive right in, a quick note. Since German uses formal and informal speech, there are different ways to ask ‘how are you?’ depending on who we are talking to.

To help make these difference obvious, I’ve included [formal] and [informal] with each of the phrases so you know which is which. If there’s no note shown, the phrase can be used in both formal and informal situations.

If you want to learn more about formal & informal German, check out my post: Sie or Du in German: When to Use Formal & Informal German

Wie geht es dir? [informal]

  • Translation: How’s it going for you?
  • Meaning: How’s it going? / How are you?
Wie geht es dir?

The most common way to ask ‘how are you?’ in German. Wie geht es dir? is the informal version, so you can use this on anyone you would normally speak informally with; friends, family, younger people etc.

How to Respond

If someone asks you wie geht es dir? the correct way to respond would be to say:

Es geht mir gut
(It goes for me good)I’m fine / good
Es geht mir nicht so gut
(It goes for me not so good)I’m not so good
Top tip: Note that when asking ‘how are you?’ in German, the pronoun is in the dative case (mir, dir). Whenever you respond to this question, or bounce the question back to the other person, always make sure you are using the dative pronoun.
GermanLiteral translationMeaning
Hallo! Wie geht es dir?
Hello! How’s it going for you?Hello! How are you?
Es geht mir gut, und dir?
It’s going well, and for you?I’m good, and you?
Es geht mir auch gut, danke
It’s going ok for me too, thanks.I’m fine too, thanks.

Do you see how throughout this short conversation, the dative pronouns mir and dir are only used to respond or bounce the question around. They must always match each other. If someone uses the dative pronoun, you must also use it.

For example: ‘Wie geht es dir?’ ‘Gut, und du?’ In this case du is incorrect, because du is a nominative pronoun so it doesn’t match the dative pronoun.

It might help to think of it like this:

  • When we say wie geht es dir? this literally translates as ‘how goes it for you?’
  • If you then respond with gut, und du? you’re actually saying ‘good, and you?’
  • This is correct in English but in German we have to ask how it’s going ‘for you
  • So we have to say wie geht es dir? (how’s it going for you?) gut, und dir? (good and for you?)

More about how to answer ‘how are you?’ in German later…

Wie geht es euch? [informal]

  • Translation: How’s it going for you guys?
  • Meaning: How are you guys / all?
Wie geht es euch?

This version is basically the same as the previous, except we use it for groups of 2 or more people. Remember in German, we need to make the distinction between talking to one person, or a group of people. Wie geht es euch? is a bit like saying ‘how are you guys?’ This is the informal variation, as again you would use it for family and friends.

Wie geht es Ihnen? [formal]

  • Translation: How’s it going for you?
  • Meaning: How are you?
Wie geht es Ihnen?

Can you see a pattern emerging? In this version, with swap the last word again to Ihnen. This changes the phrase to the formal version, so it can be used in more formal situations such as in a work environment. Wie geht es Ihnen? can be used for one or more people.

Wie geht’s?

  • Translation: How goes it?
  • Meaning: How’s it going?
Wie geht’s?

All of the previous phrases can, and often are, shortened to wie geht’s? This is the shortened version of wie geht es [Ihnen / dir]?

Since there are no pronouns at the end of the phrase, neither formal (Ihnen) or informal (dir) we can say wie geht’s? to anyone we meet, even if you’re not sure whether you should use a formal or informal phrase.

Wie geht’s? works for both formal and informal situations so is a really useful phrase to remember.

Literally translated it means ‘how goes it?’ so you can see how we get ‘how’s it going?’ in English from this.

Wie geht es ihm / ihr?

  • Translation: How’s it going for him / her?
  • Meaning: How is he / she?

What if you want to ask the person you are talking to, about how another person is. For example, imagine you are talking to a friend whose mother is sick. You can ask them wie geht es ihr?

If you want to specify who you are asking about you can add the noun:

Wie geht es deiner Mutter? [informal]
How’s your mother?
Wie geht es Ihrer Mutter? [formal]
How’s your mother?
Wie geht es Sandra?
How is Sandra?

In these phrases we’ve used the possessive pronoun ‘your’ (how is your mother?) These also change depending on whether you’re speaking formally or informally: deiner Mutter (informal) and Ihrer Mutter (formal).

If the situation is reversed and someone asks you this, you can respond with:

Wie geht es deinem Vater / deiner Mutter?How is your father / mother?
Meinem Vater geht es gut
My father is fine
Meiner Mutter geht es nicht so gut
My mother is not so good
Es geht ihm gut
He is fine
Es geht ihr nicht so gut
She is not so good

Note that we we still have to use the dative case when asking about how people are. So we say meinem Vater (my father), meiner Mutter (my mother), ihm (him) and ihr (her).

Alles gut bei dir? [informal]

Translation: Everything good with you?

Alles gut bei dir?

This is another way of asking how someone is. ‘Everything good with you?’ Another nice, friendly phrase. This is often shortened to a simple alles gut? (everything good?)

This phrase use the informal dir, and although this can be changed to Ihnen to make it formal, the who phrase is quite a casual one, so you’re unlikely to use it formally.

Alles klar?

Translation: Everything ok?

Alles klar?

Spend any amount of time in Germany and you’ll hear alles klar! It can be used as a statement to show you understand something. It can also be used as a question, alles klar? It’s a bit like saying ‘alright?’.

You’ll also hear alles klar bei dir? (everything ok with you?)

Wie läuft’s? [informal]

  • Translation: How runs it?
  • Meaning: How’s it going?
Wie läuft’s?

Meaning ‘how’s it going?’ this is another way to say wie geht’s? You can also add endings to this phrase such as wie läuft die Arbeit? (how is work going?) or wie läuft es in Berlin? (how’s it going in Berlin?)

Was geht ab? [informal]

Was geht ab?

Very colloquial phrase, roughly meaning ‘what’s up?’ It’s more of a ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘what’s going on?’ phrase rather than a ‘how are you?’

Use this one to really surprise your friends as it’s so colloquial they won’t expect you to say it!

Was macht das Leben?

  • Translation: What makes the life?
  • Meaning: How’s life?
Was macht das Leben?

Useful for someone you haven’t seen for a while, this is a good phrase for catching up with what’s going on in someone’s life. Used in the same way as in English.

Was gibt es Neues?

  • Translation: What is there new?
  • Meaning: What’s new?
Was gibt es Neues?

Another casual phrase for catching up with a friend. ‘What’s new?’ Again, useful for finding out what someone has been up to if you haven’t seen them for a while.

How to Answer ‘How Are You?’ in German

So now you know how to ask how someone is, get prepared for answering the question yourself. There are endless ways to answer, just like in English, depending on how you’re feeling.

Gut danke, und dir? [informal]
Good / find thanks, and you?
Mir geht’s gut, und Ihnen? [formal]
I’m doing well / I’m fine, and you?
Nicht schlecht
Not bad
Sehr gut
Very good
Ganz gut
Quite good
Mir geht es schlecht
I’m not well / I’m not great
Es geht so / geht so
So so (slightly negative, like you’re not feeling great but you want to sound like you’re ok)
So lala
So so (same as above)

So now you know how to ask someone ‘how are you?’ in German. Have I missed any ways of asking or any responses? Let me know in a comment below.

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