The Meaning of The Question "How Have You Been"
Native English speakers often replace how are you? with how have you been?. They do this when asking how someones life has been going in general since a point in time (usually when you last spoke to each other). This question acknowledges that its been a long time since you last spoke and you need to catch up. It means how has life been for you since we last spoke? instead of how are you right now?
When Should You Use This Question?
We use how have you been? when a lot of time has passed since we last saw or spoke to someone, and also we can use this phrase we want to start a conversation.We cannot ask this if we saw the person yesterday or even a few days ago. The inferred meaning is that we need to catch up! Tell me what is going on in your life.. This makes the question inappropriate to ask someone who we see regularly.
In addition, we can only ask this question if we have already met the person before. We cannot ask how have you been? when meeting someone for the first time. It is not possible to catch up with someone we dont already know.
To use this question appropriately, you need to learn that how have you been? always has an implied since clause. Both people involved in the conversation know how long it has been since they last saw each other, which makes adding the since clause unnecessary, redundant, and time-consuming.
We can also ask if someone has gone through a big change and we havent spoken to them for a long time. Usually, the life change is negative and we want to ask how they have been feeling since the event without mentioning the event directly.
How have you been...since I last saw you?
How have you been...since we worked together?
How have you been...since you broke up with your boyfriend?
How has he been...since the accident?
How have they been...since the loss of their parents?
First of All, is There a Right Answer to The Question How Have You Been?
There is no one right answer to this phrase. It is an open-ended question with countless possible answers. The answer simply depends on how much information the person answering the question wants to share. There are ways to answer this inquiry in a short and quick way and other ways that go into detail about the time that has passed since you last saw each other.
How to Reply to The Question How Have You Been?
Keep the reply direct and to-the-point. Single-word and short replies are acceptable such as good not bad not great and been better. Avoid chewing someones ear off with everything that has happened in your life. If the answer is long, try to keep it light-hearted and not too serious.
What is English Everyday
English Everydayis an English course with24/7 live speaking lessonsfor English learners who wantunlimited speaking practice with native speakers, professional teachers, and students from around the world.
You havelive speaking lessonswhere you can join anunlimited amount of lessons every day. There's a lesson almost every hour and you can join all of them and also, you canreview all record lessons.English Everydaycontains a lot ofconversation practicefor each level of English (A2,B1-B2,C1), and also you have acalendar of scheduled lessonsso you can see when lessons are and at what time you can join and start speaking.
InEnglish Everydayprogram, you have24/7 supportand also you havestudent chatwhere you canspeak with other students from all around the world. You can look at ourfeedback pageso that you can know from which countries our students are. Before you join our program, we strongly recommend you sign up for ourfree seminarwithKris Amerikos, where you can learn:
- What goals you need to have to get better results
- How to become fluent in English very quickly
- What you need to do to have perfect pronunciation
- The 3 biggest mistakes you need to avoid
- Which free resources will help you learn English
- The best resource to use to improve your speaking
Short Answers to How Have You Been?
Short answers usually come after an affirmative word like yeah.
Example: Yeah, good!
You can add yeah before any of these short answers.
- 1. Good!
- 2. Ive been good.
- 3. Good, good, good.
- 4. Great!
- 5. Really good.
- 6. Really great!
- 7. Not bad.
- 8. Cant complain.
- 9. Been worse.
- 10. Been better.
- 11. Not great.
- 12. Busy!
- 13. Swamped!
- 14. Snowed under.
- 15. Im just keeping on!
- 16. Keeping on.
- 17. Surviving.
- 18. Beyond busy!
- 19. Same stuff, different day.
- 20. Never been better!
- 21. Nothing to report.
- 22. Hectic.
- 23. Very hectic!
- 24. As usual.
- 25. A bit crazy.
- 26. Alls good.
- 27. Ive been OK.
- 28. Never better!
- 29. Fantastic!
- 30. Could be worse.
- 31. Could be better.
- 32. Lifes good.
- 33. Lifes been tough.
- 34. Its been rough.
- 35. Its been difficult.
- 36. Smooth sailing.
- 37. Its been rocky.
Long Answers to How Have You Been
Long answers are good for summarizing the important events that have happened since you last spoke to someone. Keep the sentences short and sweet and end them with a strong short general statement.
- 1. Ive started a new job. Its going really well. Ive also met someone, so life is good.
- 2. I havent done much, to be honest. Life has been busy and Im just trying to keep my head above water.
- 3. Ive been traveling and Ive finally visited France. I can tick it off the bucket list.
- 4. Just working a lot these days. I really need a break!
- 5. Ive been focusing on my career and Im starting to move up the corporate ladder.
- 6. Ive been struggling to be honest. But it gets easier every day.
- 7. Ive been so busy recently.
- 8. I have been sleeping a lot lately.
- 9. Nothing to complain about at least. All sunshine and rainbows!
- 10. Not all sunshine and rainbows, but its OK.
How do Native Speakers Answer This Question?
This means that nothing has changed, nothing exciting has happened and theres nothing new in your life. Everything is the same as before and nothing has changed since the last time you spoke.
This is a very common response that replaces Im good or everything is OK. Native English speakers also add and you? or what about you? and find out how the asker has been since they last spoke to each other.
- 3. Ive been better, to be honest, but I keep on keeping on. You know how it is.
This is an example of how to answer honestly while keeping it relatively short. Adding you know how it is' to the end of a negative statement helps keep it light-hearted and shows that the speaker isnt interested in going into too much detail on the topic.
- 4. Busy. Ive been grinding away, working for the big man, burning the midnight oil. But it has its perks.
Again, this response is slightly negative. Adding but it has its perks has the same effect as you know how it is. It means that things have been difficult, but its OK and youre not too upset about it.
- 5. Fantastic! Ive been doing great. I got a promotion at work and things are on the up and up!
This is a very positive way to answer this question. Things are on the up means that your life is getting better every day. You are typically happy, and your life is moving in a positive direction.
Is How Have You Been Formal or Informal?
While this question is not strictly formal, it isnt informal either. It is an acceptable question to use in a formal situation with someone you know well. If you dont know the person, stick with how are you? in formal situations.
In terms of register, how have you been? is a polite way to ask someone a very intimate question about their life without being direct about it. If the person wants to open up and share a lot of details, then they can and they will. The person answering can also choose a short answer to avoid sharing too much about their personal life.
Is it Correct to Say How You Been?
Grammatically, it is not correct to say how you been? Native English speakers might say how you been? but we must avoid this question when using the English language in all formal situations. It is a casual and lazy way to ask how have you been?
How have you been? is used in a present perfect form that highlights a past situation or state and its relationship with the present.
I have been good (since I last saw you)
On a timeline, the speaker has been good in general from the point in time you last saw each other up to the present time or recently. It is only possible to express this with the present perfect tenses and any other form is grammatically incorrect.
How you been? would get the response I been good and subject + past participle is not possible in the English language without have/has/had in the middle.
Different Ways to Say How Have You Been With Similar Phrases
Howve is an abbreviation of how have. We can also abbreviate how has to hows for third person singular questions. For example, hows he been?
Pronunciation tip: to sound like a native English speaker, you must pronounce the question with the above abbreviations. You need to learn that native English speakers always link the words how have and how has when speaking.
U is an abbreviation of you. This can only be used in informal texting or writing and cant be used in formal writing or emails.
This is a present perfect continuous question structure which is perfectly acceptable too.
How have you been doing? draws attention to the ongoing emotion from the past to the present.
Ive been doing OK, is a great response to show that things have been difficult but you make it OK every day.
How have you been doing? is a more sympathetic question and should be used when speaking to someone who has gone through a difficult time. Its a polite way of asking how have you been coping (since the change or bad event)?
How Have You Been Holding Up?
This question can only be used when speaking to someone who is going through a difficult time. The person asking the question is expecting a negative answer and should be prepared to offer words of advice or consolation.
How Have You Been Feeling?
We usually ask this question if someone has been ill and we want to know if they have been feeling better. How have you been feeling? is a way of asking someone Are you feeling better or have you had any symptoms recently?
Essentially, this question has the same meaning as how have you been? Its more upbeat and positive than the previous three examples. Its purpose is to elicit a positive response from the other person such as its been going good!
It refers to life in this question.
How Have You Been Keeping?
This question is similar to hows it been going? It is a light-hearted question to check up on someone we havent spoken to in a while.
The Difference Between How Have You Been and How Are You
We can use how are you? with anyone, from someone we have just met to someone weve known our whole lives. We can use how are you? when seeing someone we see every day and when seeing someone we havent seen for a long time. How are you? means how are you right now, at this moment?
We can only use how have you been? with someone we know and havent seen for a long time. Its a way of asking how have things been for you since we last spoke to each other? It shows a deep interest in knowing more than simply how are you right now? We are asking for more information about someones life when we ask how have you been?
How are you? asks about a current state of being and how have you been? asks for more information about someones life in general and recently.
Recap: What to Say When Someone Asks How Have You Been?
We can decide how much information we want to share when someone asks how have you been? We can say not bad, good, great, never better, been better, and surviving to give a short summary of how our lives have been since we last spoke.
Or we can give longer replies but remember to add but you know how it is, but it has its perks, or another general statement to soften a negative reply. We want to avoid dampening the conversation with negativity, so be honest but keep it light-hearted. Dont be afraid to use these tips and remember that if you want to learn them you need to practice English every day.
Test What Youve Learned in This Article With These Questions
Choose the best reply:
How have you been?
- Really terrible. Life is so hard!
- Not great, but you know how it is.
- Yes, I have been.
How have you been doing?
- Things could be worse.
- No, I havent.
- Yes, I am.
Choose the correct question form:
- Howve you been?
- How u been?
- How have you being?
Choose the correct question form:
- What have he been?
- Hows she been?
- How have she been?
How have you been? is
True or False
How you been is grammatically correct.
Circle the other correct ways to ask how have you been?
- Howve you been?
- How has you been?
- How she been?
- How has it been going?
- Hows she been?
- Howve you been doing?
- Hows she been feeling?
Which question asks for more information about someones life?
- How are you?
- How have you been?
Which is more polite:
- Are you OK after your breakup?
- How have you been holding up?
- I heard about your breakup. How are you?