Phuong is walking down Collins Street when she sees a friend of hers from uni:
– “Sam, fancy meeting you here! It’s been ages since I saw you – how have you been?!
– “Yeah, Phuong, how long has it been now?! I’m pretty good thanks. Got a new job in Prahan and I’ve just started seeing someone! What about you – how are things?!”
When To Ask “How have you been?”
When we ask “How are you?” the focus is on now. We could be asking simply to be polite or we might want to know how you really are.
Phuong asks Sam: “How have you been?” This is a question in the present perfect form [HAVE + 3rd form] and therefore refers to a time period that started in the past and continues until now.
For example, maybe you haven’t seen your friend for a few weeks or even a longer time. Perhaps it’s been 6 months since you last met, so this is why you can ask:
“How have you been?”
This kind of conversation and interaction is part of small talk. Small talk is something which some students find difficult, as it’s not as common in their culture. However when you meet up with English speakers, being able to carry a friendly everyday conversation will help give a more positive impression of yourself and improve the rapport between you.
Hi, how are things?
How are you going?
How are you doing?
How have you been?
Asking What They’re Doing
So, what are you up to these days?
So, what have you been doing (since we met last)?
So what have you been up to?
Ways of Responding
Things are good, thanks.
Things have been ok | alright | great
Busy – you know how it is.
I’ve been off my feet = very busy
You’ll never guess – I’m married | I have a new job!
Updated 7.4.2014! Find A Complete List Of Common Phrases Here!
If you’re new here please check out the Get Into English Facebook page!
So How Was The Flight?
What Did You Get Up To This Weekend?
What Are You Up To Later?
Image: John Haslam
Licence (CC by 2.0)
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends or leave a message below 🙂
Hi David !
Excellent article !!! I read it with pleasure and I’m sure that this source is very useful. And I agree with you that each ethnic nationality has different attitude to small talk and it’s determined by the genetic and cultural particular qualities . But in any case small talk is fine method for improving our communicative skills in daily life ;))
I wish you a pleasant day :))
David Sweetnam says
Nice to hear from you again. How’s winter treating you?!
Yeah, for me small talk is different in Melbourne and Vancouver compared to here in Prague. Perhaps it’s due to historical reasons that Czechs are generally less interested in talking about their work and life, especially to someone they don’t know as well.
Have a good day