There are two ways to greet someone and most people, including natives, do not understand the difference.
- How are you?
- How do you do?
Let me explain.
How are you? This manner of greeting includes an ‘ARE’, which means the question is intended to enquire about your PRESENT status – the moment in which the question is asked. So, if you’re going through a rough phase in life, however, you just had a moment of elation you’ll respond “Well, I feel good. How about you?“.
“How do you do” is different. When somebody greets you with this question, the intention is to go beyond the moment. The scale is bigger than just the present moment. For instance, look at the following statements:
A. The children are playing. (in the moment)
B. The Sun rises from the East. (A daily event. Beyond this moment.)
Understood? Next time someone asks you How do you do?, remember the scale is bigger. There are ups and downs in such a large scale of time. So you answer: “Well, not bad. How do you do?”
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