The next step after greeting someone in Italian is asking them how they are. Knowing how to ask “How are you?” in Italian is a key skill to have if you are learning the language.
Just as in English, there are many different ways to ask how someone is in Italian, and which you use depends on the formality of the situation.
Below, we’ll look through
- A number of ways of asking “How are you?” in Italian
- Guides for which one to use depending on the context and formality level, and
- Some ideas for how to respond.
Ready to learn how to say how are you in Italian? Let’s get started!
How Are You in Italian at a Glance
How’s it going?
Is everything okay?
How are you?
How are things?
Is it getting better?
How’s it going?
What’s been happening?
Is everything okay?
How have you been?
How are you?
I hope you’re well
The Most Common Ways to Say How Are You in Italian
As usual, we’ll start with the basics. We’ve gathered some of the most common phrases to say how are you in Italian for you in the table below.
Come va? – How’s it going?
Come va? is probably the most common way to ask someone how they are, and can be used in almost any situation.
You can consider it neutral, so feel free to use it in casual and more formal situations, as well as in spoken and written language.
Tutto bene? – Are you okay?
You might also hear people asking tutto bene? which is how you would say “are you okay?” or, literally, “Is everything okay?” in Italian. It’s a safe bet when you’re not sure about what level of formality you need to use.
Novità? – What’s new?
Novità? corresponds to “what’s new?” and can be used in a fairly wide range of contexts, both formal and informal. This is a great way to start a conversation and get it going beyond the simple greetings.
Come stai? – How are you?
Come stai? is the textbook translation for “how are you?” when informally addressing someone that you know quite well.
The conjugation stai comes from the verb stare (“to stay”) that’s used for informal tu. There’s informal and formal Italian. Informal tu is used with friends, family members, and children.
Come va la vita? – How’s life?
Come va la vita? is the Italian equivalent of “how’s life?” and is another common way to ask someone how they are, especially if you haven’t seen them in a while. Use this phrase to start a conversation.
Come vanno le cose? – How are things?
Another great conversation starter is come vanno le cose? which is almost a word-for-word translation of “how are things?”.
Va meglio? – Is it getting better?
If you know that someone has been feeling a little under the weather, va meglio? , which means “is it getting better?” or “is it going better” is a polite and appropriate way to ask how they’re feeling.
Informal Ways of Saying How Are You in Italian
Below are some casual/slang phrases for asking someone how they’re doing in Italian.
Com’è? – How’s it going?
Com’è? is a very informal and conversational way to ask how are you in Italian. This expression means “How’s it going?” even though it literally translates as “What’s it like?”. Use it with very close friends and family.
Che si dice? – What’s up?
Another phrase you’ll likely hear in conversation is che si dice? which corresponds to “what’s up?”. This is a great way to start a conversation.
Come butta? – What’s been happening?
Come butta? is one of the most informal expressions to ask someone how they are in Italian. It literally means “how does it throw?” and it’s a fun way to check up on someone in a casual way.
The phrase “come butta?” corresponds to “what’s been happening?”. This is not a phrase to be used in a business setting or with relatives, teachers, and anyone outside of your group of buddies.
Tutto a posto? – Is everything okay?
Tutto a posto? literally, means “is everything in place?” and corresponds to tutto bene? A posto, though, is a very informal way of saying “well” or “okay.” Use this phrase with very close friends and family.
Come te la passi? – How have you been?
Come te la passi? literally translates to “how are you passing it?” but what you’re really asking is “how have you been?”.
Formal Ways to Say How Are You in Italian
You wouldn’t greet an important client, your boss, or your Italian teacher the same way you would greet your cousin, right? It’s the same in Italian. Let’s check out the examples we’ve gathered for you below to find out how to ask how are you in formal settings.
Come sta? – How are you?
The formal equivalent of come stai? is come sta? The formal pronoun, lei is used with elders, strangers, and acquaintances. You would use come sta? with:
- someone you don’t know well
- someone much older than you
- someone in a position of superiority
You can use it in formal and professional settings.
Spero tutto bene – I hope you’re well
Spero tutto bene isn’t exactly asking “how are you?” and isn’t actually a question. It corresponds to “I hope you’re well” and is especially common when making an introduction over email. After the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become appropriate to begin a professional email by asking about the health of the recipient.
How to Respond to How Are You in Italian
Note that, while in English “how are you?” is often used as a simple greeting without necessarily requiring an answer, in Italian we really want to know how you are. So, if you’re asking how someone is doing, pause and wait until you get an answer.
As a general rule, when you’re asked how you are, answer honestly but refrain from providing too much negative detail. Note that it’s polite to say grazie (“thanks”) after your response, and add a follow-up question, like e tu? (“and you?”) or more formal e Lei?
We’ve gathered some of the most common phrases to say in response to “how are you” in the table below.
|Alla grande||Everything is great|
|Molto bene||Very well|
|Mai stato meglio||I’ve never been better|
|Sto bene||I’m fine|
|Non c’è male||Not bad|
|Non posso lamentarmi||I can’t complain|
|Abbastanza bene||Fairly good|
|Sto meglio||I’m feeling better|
|Al solito||As usual|
|Insomma, così così||Well, so-so|
|Si tira avanti||I’m getting by|
|Ho visto giorni migliori||I’ve seen better days|
|Non molto bene||Not very well|
As you can see, there are several ways to ask how are you in Italian depending on who you’re talking to. Now you’re equipped with plenty of options beyond come va?!