How to say “how are you” in Spanish?

How do you say “how are you” in Spanish?

Easy answer: “¿Cómo estás?”.

This is probably one of the most basic phrases that people learn in Spanish and one of the first things you learn in Spanish courses.

However, in real life, the question: “¿cómo estás?”, is just one of the many ways that native speakers have for asking each other how’re they doing.

Of course, if you want to use the basic phrase, you can use it in all your conversations, but what if a native speaker hits you with a different one?

Would you just stay there with a poker face?

It’s very important to know different ways of saying the same thing in Spanish because your conversations could flow at a more natural speed.

In this blog post, I am going to share with you 41 different phrases to say: how are you in Spanish.

41 Different phrases to say how are you in Spanish

In English, you might use certain phrases depending on how formal or informal you want to sound. For example, it wouldn’t be appropriate if you say hi to your boss, on your first day at work like:

“Yo man! what’s been up?… doing good?”

Other phrases might make sense in specific regions, but they might not sound so good in other countries, for instance:

  • In the US people often say: “how you doing?”
  • But, in England people tend to say: “how’s you?”

Even though it’s the same language, people in different parts of the world use different phrases to express the same thing, other phrases like “how are you” are more neutral; they work in the US, England, Australia, etc.

The variations on these kinds of phrases happen in Spanish too.

The following list will categorize the different ways of saying how are you in Spanish by how formal or informal they sound.

Also, some of them sound correct in specific parts of the world, while others won’t make any sense in certain countries.

Let me show you!

Click here to download a PDF with all the phrases that I list on this article and receive more great Spanish learning tips for free.

Neutral phrases to say how are you in Spanish

hand with a marker drawing smiley faces

Neutral phrases work in any situation, and with any kind of people you talk to, so if you don’t want to worry about how formal you sound, just go with:

  1. ¿Cómo estás?: Literally, and exactly, it means how are you.
  2. ¿Cómo están?: plural of “¿como estás?”. You should use this phrase when you talk to more than one person.
  3. ¿Qué tal?: It also means how are you, and it usually goes with “Hola“, for example: “Hola, ¿qué tal?”.
  4. ¿Cómo va todo?: Literally, this means: How’s everything going? But it’s interpreted as how are you, by native speakers.
  5. ¿Cómo te va?: How is it going for you?
  6. ¿Cómo te ha ido?: How have things been for you?
  7. ¿Cómo van las cosas?: It means, How are things going? This question asks about how your life goes in general.
  8. ¿Qué hay de nuevo?: What’s new? However, it doesn’t mean that people ask you what is literally new in your life. Native speakers understand this question as: how are you, so just answer: “¡todo bien!” or “más o menos.”
  9. ¿Qué has hecho?: What have you been up to?

Now, as you know, every time someone asks you how you are, most of the times you want to sound polite, and that’s why we say things like:

  • I’m fine
  • How about you?
  • Great, how are you?.

Well, in Spanish we do this as well, and right after we say that you’re doing good (Estoy bien, gracias), you can say:

  1. ¿Y tú qué?: How about you? It’s used in every Spanish speaking country.
  2. ¿Y vos qué?: In this phrase, you use the pronoun vos, which is used in some countries of Latin America like Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, and some others.

The most formal way to say it

half torso wearing a suite with a bow tie

When you talk to older or respected people, important people, or perhaps your doctor, you probably want to show your manners.

In Spanish, the most formal pronoun for the second singular person is usted (you). For this reason, we’ll be using usted in all our formal phrases.

Now if you don’t see usted in the phrase, it just means that we’re using it implicitly, yes native speakers do this all the time!

This means that even though you don’t see usted, you know it’s there because of how the verbs are conjugated or how other parts of the phrase are structured.

If you use any of these phrases, you will let the other person know that you are being very formal.

  1. ¿Cómo está usted?: How are you?
  2. ¿Cómo le va?: How’re you doing?
  3. ¿Cómo está?: How are you? Notice that there’s no “s” at the end of “está” like there is in our neutral phrase list, this happens because we’re conjugating the verb “estar” using the usted pronoun. ¿Cómo está (used)?

Again, if you want to say: “I’m great, how about you?” in a formal way, you may say: estoy bien, gracias…

  1. ¿y usted cómo está?
  2. ¿y usted qué?
  3. ¿Y usted cómo va?
  4. ¿y usted qué tal?

Some informal phrases to say it

Imagine you are about to meet your Latino friends and you want to say how are you in Spanish, are you going to say: “Hola señor, ¿cómo le va?…” of course not, that’s too formal!

Instead of that, you may use one of the following phrases:

  1. ¿Qué hay?: This phrase is actually used just as we use “what’s up?” in English.
  2. ¿Cómo andas? It literally means, how do you walk, but of course, that translation doesn’t make any sense. Just remember that native speakers interpret this phrase as to how are you.
  3. ¿Cómo andás?: The difference between this phrase and the previous one is the accent in the last “a”. when you say cómo andás you are using the pronoun vos implicitly (Cómo andás vos?).
  4. ¿Cómo vas?: This is just “How are you doing?”, in a more relaxed way.

Now, informal phrases may vary a lot from country to country…

I’m going to give you some examples from Colombia because it’s the country in which I grew up, so it’s the one that I know better.

How people say “How are you” in Colombia

Pueblito paisa in Medellín Colombia

The phrases that you are about to read work mostly in Medellín. Not all of them sound as proper in other parts of Colombia as they sound in Medellín, but none of them is offensive.

Also, have in mind that these phrases are all informal, so try to avoid using them if you’re planning to go abroad for business or anything like that:

  1. ¿Qué cuenta pues?: Literally translated would be what do you count? but just like all the other phrases we’ve seen so far, it means how are you.
  2. ¿Qué se dice?: What do you say? but it’s interpreted as how are you in Medellín.
  3. ¿Qué más?: What’s up?
  4. ¿Qué más parcero?: What’s up buddy?
  5. ¿Qué más pues?: What’s up?
  6. ¡Quiubo!: What’s up?
  7. ¿Quiubo pues? What’s up?
  8. ¡Quiubole!: Wazzup?
  9. ¿Bien o no?: It means literally, doing good or not?, but people from Medellín interpret it as how are you?
  10. ¿Bien o qué?: This one means literally, doing good or what? but just a the previous one, the answer you need to give to this question is: “bien, gracias… or bien, ¿y vos?”
  11. ¿Todo bien?: You alright?… I know this sounds like if someone would be checking on your health or something, but friends in Medellín use this phrase to say how are you all the time, for example: Hola, ¿qué más? ¿todo bien?
  12. ¿Cómo vamos pues mijo?: How is it going, buddy? … In this question we see the word “mijo”, which is short for “mi hijo” (my son), this is just slang for “buddy” in Colombia.

Something interesting about these phrases is that people might combine them.

So, it’s very likely that if someone in Medellín wants to say, “hey, what’s up man?” they could use one or more of these phrases at the same time, like this:

  • ¿Qué más? ¿bien o qué?
  • ¿Todo bien? ¿qué cuenta pues?
  • ¿Quiubole? ¿Cómo vamos pues?
  • ¿Qué más parcero? ¿bien o qué?

How people say “how are you” in other countries

I don’t know many expressions from other countries to say how are you, but I want to share with the ones I’ve heard.

First, these are the ones I’ve heard from Mexican people:

  1. ¿Qué pedo?: What a fart?… Yes, “pedo” means fart, and I know it sounds weird but they say that a lot. However, in this case, it means what’s up?
  2. ¿Qué pasa?: What’s up?
  3. ¿Qué pasa hermano?: Wha’ts up bro?
  4. ¿Qué onda?: What’s up?

In Venezuela people say a lot:

  1. ¿Cómo estás pana?: What’s up buddy?… “pana” is a word that people use in most countries of Latin Amércia, and it means buddy.

And finally, in Spain, one of the most common how are you’s are:

  1. ¿Qué pasa tio?: What’s up buddy?… “Tio” is just slang for “buddy” in Spain.

Click here to download a PDF with all the phrases that I list on this article and receive more great Spanish learning tips for free.

Which one should you use?

So there you have it, those are all different ways of saying how are you in Spanish, the one you use should go according to how formal or informal you want to sound or the region which you visit.

However, if you don’t want to overcomplicate things, just use the neutral and basic: ¿cómo estás?.

Now, I have a question for you: do you know any other way to say how are you in Spanish? perhaps a phrase you heard in some country?

I’d love to know, so let me know in the comments below.

Cheers!