Japanese

How to Say HOW ARE YOU in Japanese

How’s everyone doing today? Good I hope!

One of the fastest ways to become fluent in Japanese is to focus your time on learning the most common words and phrases that are used.

If your goal is to watch anime in Japanese, then you’ll want to look up the most common words used in anime. Or for even faster results, you could look up something like the top 500 words (and some phrases) for the specific anime that you want to watch in Japanese.

On the other hand, if your goal is to read Japanese literature in its original language, then you will probably want to memorize the top 1,000 words for written Japanese.

What’s the moral of the story? Spend your time learning the most useful stuff first, and then later on you can learn the other things that are nice to know, but not necessary.

So what’s an essential phrase that you need to know for Japanese? Well, that’s exactly what we’ll go over today: How to say HOW ARE YOU in Japanese!

Genki?

Probably the most common way to ask, “How are you” in Japanese is お元気ですか (ogenki desu ka).

The word 元気 (genki) doesn’t have an exact translation in English, but it means roughly the same thing as “Well, energetic, or healthy.” When someone asks if you are 元気 (genki), the normal response is to say はい、元気です (hai, genki desu) which means “Yes, I am well.”

There are many ways in English to ask someone how they’re doing.

  • How are you?
  • What’s up?
  • How’s it going?
  • What’s new?

And there’s more than one way to say it in Japanese too. The word 気分 (kibun) means “Mood or feeling” and the word どう (dō) means “How.” So if you put those two together you get 気分はどうですか (kibun wa dō desu ka) which means “How are you feeling?”

Whereas お元気ですか (ogenki desu ka) would be used to ask someone how they’re doing when you meet them, 気分はどうですか (kibun wa dō desu ka) would probably be used if the other person looked a little ill. Kind of like, “Are you feeling alright?”

You probably wouldn’t respond with 元気です (genki desu) this time. It would be more appropriate to say 大丈夫です (dai jōbu desu) which means “I’m fine, or I’m okay.”

A last way that you can say “How are you” is いかがですか (ikaga desu ka). The word いかが (ikaga) is a more formal version of the word どう (dō) which as you remember means “How.” But it’s also used to ask “Would like some?” when you are holding something, so sometimes there is confusion.

If you need to clarify, you can say いかがお過ごしですか (ikaga osugoshi desu ka).

I just showed you a formal way to say it, so now let me show you an informal way. 調子 (chōshi) is the Japanese word for “condition.” If you combine that with どう (dō) you get 調子はどう? (chōshi wa dou).

A literal translation would be “how’s your condition?” as in your health. But it really means something more like “What’s up?” Use it with your friends!

To sum it up:

No pop quiz here, just a recap on what you’ve learned.

お元気ですか?
o genki desu ka ?
Are you well?

気分はどうですか?
kibun wa dō desu ka?
How are you feeling?

どうですか?
dō desu ka?
How are things?

いかがお過ごしですか?
ikaga osugoshi desu ka?
How are you? (more formal)

大丈夫ですか?
dai jōbu desu ka?
Are you okay?

調子はどう?
chōshi wa dou?
What’s up?

Now you’ve got lots of ways to ask someone how they’re doing!


If you enjoyed this post, let me know what a comment below! Thanks!

4 Comments

  • Eric

    Hey Nick, great article! In college I took a Japanese history course, and two semesters of Japanese language. So when I saw your article come up, I was intrigued. It’s been many years since college, and your article brought back memories! I like the way you teach Japanese in a concise, fun way. Since Japanese isn’t tonal, like Vietnamese and other Asian languages, it was not too hard to pick up listening and speaking Japanese for me. But, to read it and write it was difficult. Great article and site!!

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Eric, yeah I also find Japanese to be a very easy language to pronounce! like you said, it’s the written part that is probably the hardest thing – all those kanji!

      That’s pretty cool that your school offered those classes on Japanese. I went to a smaller town college and unfortunately they only taught Spanish and French.

      Glad you like the site! (^_^)b

  • Tar

    I am aware that in every language, there are words which have few different meanings and the specific response to certain questions. Like Dai Jobu Desu is preferred and more appropriate than Genki Desu. I think it’s important to select the right method of learning languages, like picking up famous phrases in anime but also the conventional Japanese textbooks on grammars as such. I heard that ‘Rosetta Stone-Learning Japanese’ is quite useful. Never tried it but are you aware of this?

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