Every time we bump into a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance, our initial instinct is to ask: how are you
Depending on the context and the person you are addressing, the level of formality can vary. For instance, when talking with a complete stranger, it's essential to be polite and use the appropriate pronouns, whereas with your closest friends, a more casual and informal approach is acceptable.
Today let's find out the 15 ways of inquiring about someone's well-being in Italian and understand when to use them best.
1. “Come stai?” ( informal) vs. “come sta?” ( formal) - how are you?
This is the most common way of greeting someone. The first phrase - “come stai” is used when you are speaking to a friend, someone very close to you, or a family member. The sentence is constructed with the verb “stare” which literally means to stay and it is conjugated in the 2nd present indicative person when speaking informally whereas “come sta” is used when speaking formally and it is conjugated in the third person of the present indicative.
2. “Come va?” - how is it going?
This is a very common method of asking how someone is doing. This phrase takes a neutral form and it can be used both informally or formally. So stay reassured that it can be used even with a complete stranger!
3. “Come va la vita?” - how is life?
This third method of greeting literally translates into How is life? It can be used when you are seeing someone after a long time and whether you are wondering how things have been proceeding in their life.
4. “Come butta?” - what's up?
It is an informal way of asking what’s up. It is often a slang jargon used at a more colloquial level among friends. Although the literal translation is not what’s up, the word “butta” comes from the verb buttare/buttarsi which literally means to throw. This phrase translates to - how does it throw?
5. “Allora, cosa mi racconti?” - So, what’s been going on?
This expression is an informal way of asking someone what they would like to tell. It can be translated into What’s up or What can you tell me? The verb used is “raccontare” which means to tell. “Cosa mi racconti” is the informal greeting whereas “cosa mi racconta” is the formal way.
6. “Che si dice?” - what's up?
Another very common expression to ask what's up. It is used neutrally to ask what's new or what's up.
7. “Come andiamo?” - how are we doing?
“Come andiamo, Paolo?” - it means how are we doing, Paolo? Depending on the context, it could mean several things. In this instance, it could be used to ask about the status of a project and where we stand with it. It could also mean “How are we looking?”
8. “Tutto apposto?” - is everything ok?
This phrase isn't used to initiate a conversation but to ask if someone has been feeling okay in general. Let’s say you see a friend looking sad, you would approach them and ask them “Tutto apposto?”
9. “Novita’?” - whats new?
This expression goes beyond the typical way of greeting someone. Although you wouldnt use it to ask how someone is doing, it is rather used to ask if someone has anything new or exciting to share about their life. This expression can be used both in a formal or informal setting
10. “Come vanno le cose” - how are things?
This is also a very common Italian expression used to engage in a conversation and ask someone how everything is going.
11. “ Come ti senti?” - “ how do you feel?
This expression is asking how someone is feeling. You would use this sentence for instance, when someone got hurt during a game, or maybe got sick. It is a very casual expression used to check on someone. The formal way of asking the same question is “come si sente?”
12. “Ti senti meglio/ Si sente meglio?” - Do you feel better/ are you feeling better?
This is an alteration of “ come ti senti/come si sente” - it is again used to ask how someone is feeling, but inclined more towards a positive direction to ensure someone is feeling better. “Si sente meglio” is the formal version.
13. “Come te la passi?” - how is it going/how have you been?
“Come te la passi” is an informal method of asking someone how they have been. It is a great conversation starter. “Come se la passa” is the formal version.
14. “Che fai di bello?” - What are you up to?
This is a greeting expression to say what you are doing for fun or excitement. It is used to initiate a conversation and to learn what the other person has been up to. The formal version is “che fa di bello?”
15. “Che succede?” - what's going on/ what's wrong
This expression is not necessarily used to initiate a conversation, but rather to know what's going on in a particular situation. For example, if you suddenly see your neighbor calling the police, you would ask “ che succede?”
A variation of this sentence would be “che succede con Paolo” which means How is everything with Paolo/ how are things going with Paolo… Context-wise, the question would be asked to know how the relationship with Paolo is evolving.
Now it is your turn to practice. Whether you are going for a check-up at the doctor's or going for a grocery at the store, use any of the above expressions to put into practice what you have learned.
Be careful with whom you are addressing and the context.
Divertiti ( have fun)