The Art of Conversation: Asking How Are You in Chinese

Elly Kim11 min
Created: May 15, 2024Last updated: May 16, 2024
How Are You in Chinese

Greetings play a key role as they set the tone for what follows. It is true in Mandarin, where culture demands respect. Knowing how to say How are you in Chinese is a good step towards having respectful and enjoyable chats. You’ll discover the right Mandarin phrases for different situations with our guide. Learn this key greeting and a few responses to it with various examples.

Saying How Are You: Mandarin Basic Phrases

When first starting to learn Mandarin, familiarize yourself with simple ways to say ‘Hello.’ ‘How are you’ is one such phrase you will use often. Many ways exist to express this sentiment, and each depends on your relationship with the person you talk to. Here’s how to say How are you in Chinese:

  • 你好吗? (Nǐ hǎo ma?) – How are you? It is a basic, polite way to ask someone how they are in a more formal context.

你今天好吗? (Nǐ jīntiān hǎo ma?) – How are you today?

  • 最近怎么样? (Zuìjìn zěnme yàng?) – How have things been recently? This phrase is great for catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a while.

你最近忙吗? (Nǐ zuìjìn máng ma?) – Have you been busy recently?

  • 你还好吗? (Nǐ hái hǎo ma?) – Are you still okay? Used to express concern, especially if it’s been some time since you last met the person.

长时间不见,你还好吗? (Cháng shíjiān bù jiàn, nǐ hái hǎo ma?) – Long time no see, are you still okay?

  • 你身体怎么样? (Nǐ shēntǐ zěnme yàng?) – How is your health? This question is more specific and used when you know someone has been unwell or when speaking with older individuals to show care and concern.

你爷爷身体怎么样? (Nǐ yéye shēntǐ zěnme yàng?) – How is your grandfather’s health?

  • 你过得怎么样? (Nǐ guò de zěnme yàng?) – How have you been? It can be used casually and formally to inquire more about the person’s life rather than just their current state.

最近工作忙吗,你过得怎么样? (Zuìjìn gōngzuò máng ma, nǐ guò de zěnme yàng?) – Have you been busy with work recently, how have you been?

Formal Expressions for How Are You in Mandarin

There are a lot of polite ways to ask ‘how are you’ in Mandarin. You’ll use these when speaking to elders, superiors, or those you want to show respect to. They don’t work well in casual or informal chats, so use them wisely. Let’s take a look at the right Chinese How are you phrases:

  • 您身体健康吗? (Nín shēntǐ jiànkāng ma?) – Is your health good? A respectful inquiry about someone’s health, often used with older individuals or in a formal context.

请问,您身体健康吗? (Qǐng wèn, nín shēntǐ jiànkāng ma?) – May I ask if your health is good?

  • 您最近忙什么呢? (Nín zuìjìn máng shénme ne?) – What have you been busy with recently? This phrase is suitable for formal interactions where you show interest in the person’s recent activities in a respectful manner.

请问您最近忙什么呢? (Qǐng wèn nín zuìjìn máng shénme ne?) – May I ask what you have been busy with recently?

  • 您过得怎么样? (Nín guò de zěnme yàng?) – How have you been? A more personal inquiry that still maintains a formal tone, suitable for professional relationships.

请允许我问一下, 您过得怎么样? (Qǐng yǔnxǔ wǒ wèn yīxià, Nín guò de zěnme yàng?) – May I ask, how have you been?

  • 您近况如何? (Nín jìnkuàng rúhé?) – How is your recent situation? It is used to inquire more broadly about the person’s current life conditions in a formal setting.

请允许我问一下,您近况如何? (Qǐng yǔnxǔ wǒ wèn yīxià, nín jìnkuàng rúhé?) – May I ask, how is your recent situation?

  • 您觉得怎么样? (Nín juéde zěnme yàng?) – How do you feel about it? Used in formal discussions to ask for opinions on a specific matter, showing respect for the person’s viewpoint.

这个方案,您觉得怎么样? (Zhège fāng’àn, nín juéde zěnme yàng?) – This plan, how do you feel about it?


Informal Language: Casual Ways to Say How Are You in Chinese

When talking to friends, family members, or peers in Mandarin, you can use less formal phrases. They help you build stronger and more direct connections with the people around you. Let’s get familiar with some common casual ways to ask How you doing in Chinese:

  • 你还好吧? (Nǐ hái hǎo ba?) – You’re still good, right? An informal check-in to see if the person is still doing well since the last time you spoke.

见你很高兴,你还好吧?(Jiàn nǐ hěn gāoxìng, nǐ hái hǎo ba?) – Happy to see you, you’re still good, right?

  • 你怎么样? (Nǐ zěnme yàng?) – How are you doing? A slightly more casual phrase for asking “Como estas en Chino” that’s commonly used among acquaintances and friends.

你最近怎么样? (Nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng?) – How have you been recently?

  • 干嘛呢? (Gàn má ne?) – What are you up to? A very casual and common way to ask what someone is doing at that moment.

你在干嘛呢,有空出来聊聊? (Nǐ zài gàn má ne, yǒu kòng chūlái liáo liáo?) – What are you up to, free to come out and chat?

  • 忙完了吗? (Máng wán le ma?) – Are you done being busy? Used to ask if someone had finished their work or other commitments.

你今天的事情忙完了吗? 可以放松一下了吗? (Nǐ jīntiān de shìqíng máng wán le ma? Kěyǐ fàngsōng yīxià le ma?) – Have you finished your tasks for today? Can you relax now?

  • 身体还好吗? (Shēntǐ hái hǎo ma?) – Is your health still good? A casual inquiry about someone’s health, implying care for their well-being.

你父母身体还好吗? (Nǐ fùmǔ shēntǐ hái hǎo ma?) – Are your parents still in good health?

  • 还行吗? (Hái xíng ma?) – Still okay? A casual and brief way to ask if someone is continuing to do okay since your last interaction.

你最近还行吗,有没有什么新问题? (Nǐ zuìjìn hái xíng ma, yǒu méiyǒu shénme xīn wèntí?) – Are you still okay recently, any new problems?

  • 生活怎样? (Shēnghuó zěnyàng?) – How’s life? It is a more general inquiry about a person’s life, suitable for casual conversations.

你的生活怎样,一切都好吗? (Nǐ de shēnghuó zěnyàng, yīqiè dōu hǎo ma?) – How’s life, is everything good?

  • 你今天怎么样? (Nǐ jīntiān zěnme yàng?) – How are you today? This How are you today in Chinese question focuses on the person’s state on the current day, great for daily check-ins.

今天天气不错,你今天怎么样? (Jīntiān tiānqì bùcuò, nǐ jīntiān zěnme yàng?) – The weather is nice today, how are you today?

Responses to ‘How Are You’ in Mandarin

Just knowing the questions for How are you in Mandarin is only part of a chat. Reacting correctly is equally important. Your answer should fit the tone and mood of the conversation. Here, we will see how to respond to these kinds of questions in Mandarin:

  • 我很好。 (Wǒ hěn hǎo.) – I’m very good. A straightforward and positive response that indicates you’re doing well.

你好吗?我很好。 (Nǐ hǎo ma? Wǒ hěn hǎo.) – How are you? I’m very good.

  • 还可以。 (Hái kěyǐ.) – It’s okay. This response is neutral, suggesting that things are neither great nor bad.

最近怎么样?还可以。 (Zuìjìn zěnme yàng? Hái kěyǐ.) – How have you been recently? It’s okay.

  • 不太好。 (Bù tài hǎo.) – Not so good. Use this when you’re not feeling great and want to express that things could be better.

你怎么样?不太好。 (Nǐ zěnme yàng? Bù tài hǎo.) – How are you? Not so good.

  • 非常忙。 (Fēicháng máng.) – Very busy. A common response when your life or work has been particularly hectic.

你最近怎么样?非常忙。 (Nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng? Fēicháng máng.) – How have you been recently? Very busy.

  • 我心情不错。 (Wǒ xīnqíng bùcuò.) – I’m in a good mood. Optimal when you’re feeling cheerful and want to express a positive emotional state.

你今天怎么样?我心情不错。 (Nǐ jīntiān zěnme yàng? Wǒ xīnqíng bùcuò.) – How are you today? I’m in a good mood.

  • 还行。 (Hái xíng.) – Still okay. It is another neutral response, indicating that things are generally fine but not particularly noteworthy.

你好吗? 还行。 (Nǐ hǎo ma? Hái xíng.) – How are you? Still okay.

  • 我有点儿不舒服。 (Wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu.) – I’m feeling a bit unwell. Appropriate when you are experiencing minor health issues and want to express discomfort.

你看起来不太高兴,怎么了?我有点儿不舒服。 (Nǐ kàn qǐlái bù tài gāoxìng, zěnme le? Wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu.) – You don’t look very happy, what’s wrong? I’m feeling a bit unwell.

  • 生活有点儿紧张。 (Shēnghuó yǒudiǎnr jǐnzhāng.) – Life’s a bit stressful. Use this when you want to convey that life has been challenging or stressful lately.

你这段时间过得怎么样? 生活有点儿紧张。 (Nǐ zhè duàn shíjiān guò de zěnme yàng? Shēnghuó yǒudiǎnr jǐnzhāng.) – How have you been recently? Life’s a bit stressful.

  • 精神不错。 (Jīngshén bùcuò.) – I’m in good spirits. Express this when you feel energetic and enthusiastic.

今天你怎么样?精神不错。 (Jīntiān nǐ zěnme yàng? Jīngshén bùcuò.) – How are you today? I’m in good spirits.

  • 我挺忙的,但一切都好。 (Wǒ tǐng máng de, dàn yīqiè dōu hǎo.) – I’m quite busy, but everything’s good. Use this to express that, despite a hectic schedule, you’re managing well, and things are under control.

你怎么样?我挺忙的,但一切都好。 (Nǐ zěnme yàng? Wǒ tǐng máng de, dàn yīqiè dōu hǎo.) – How are you? I’m quite busy, but everything’s good.

  • 感觉挺好的。 (Gǎnjué tǐng hǎo de.) – I feel quite good. This phrase is perfect for expressing a general sense of well-being.

你怎么样?感觉挺好的。 (Nǐ zěnme yàng? Gǎnjué tǐng hǎo de.) – How are you? I feel quite good.

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Knowing how do you say Hello, how are you in Chinese puts you a step ahead in your talks. The conversations can be both respectful and enjoyable with these phrases. Polite terms work best with elders, while casual ones help you get closer to friends. The right response is also key to keeping the chat flow. Learn them all, and you’ll be able to tailor your greetings to any situation.


How vital is respect in Chinese culture?

Respect is a core part of Chinese culture, reflected in dialects, traditions, and actions. It’s crucial to use appropriate words when speaking to someone older or higher in status.

Apart from greetings, what else should one learn to converse better in Mandarin?

Idioms are essential in Chinese talks. Also, learning about Chinese culture, customs, and etiquette can enhance the quality of your chats.

How can I improve my pronunciation of Mandarin phrases?

Listen to native speakers through podcasts or movies. Repeat the words and phrases you hear and learn tongue twisters to enhance your pronunciation.

What resources can I use to learn new words in Chinese?

There are many online dictionaries like Pleco and MDBG. They provide translations, usage examples, and pronunciation features.