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As far as I know, How are you? is not supposed to be answered [1]: In most of the cases it just means hi!.

Question: Regarding the closest German equivalent, i.e. "Wie geht's (dir)?", should this question be answered?

[1] I've never lived in an English speaking country, so correct me if I'm wrong

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I have to add that I feel a bit pressured if colleagues ask me that when they just want to say hi. I feel an urge to respond but I don't want to lie on the one hand and I don't want to elaborate on the matter either because, you know, we're not friends and we won't be talking anyway. So I actually get a little tiny bit discomforted by it. If you mean "Hi" then say "Hi" ... or just say "Alles gut". Then I can just say "yes." which might be a lie too but I don't have to fill the lie with content. I just have to say "yes". Others might find "Alles gut" a bit presumptive though :) –  Emanuel Jan 23 '14 at 12:32
I think an answer of sorts is expected, just not a long (or necessarily honest) one, so "Great! How are you?" might be an appropriate reply. Unlike the British "How do you do?" it is a full-blown question, though. –  Ingmar Feb 27 at 15:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, if you are greeted with Hey, wie geht's dir?, there is usually an expectation to receive a reply:

Danke, gut! Und dir?
Geht so, und selbst?

Or if you do not want to return the question, simply:

Geht so!

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+1 for Geht so since no native German would answer the question in a positive manner. –  Lars Beck Jan 23 '14 at 14:58
Muss ja, ne is what I usually say –  rompetroll Jan 23 '14 at 16:56
Wie immer is what I replay to someone I already know. My opponent doesn't really expect a long answer. –  nixda Jan 25 '14 at 9:15
@nixda Your opponent? Your enemies ask how you are?? –  Robert Feb 27 at 18:10

It's not uncommon that Germans will give you a brief rundown of their current health status ("Gestern hatte ich eine fiese Erkältung, aber heute geht es schon wieder..."). "Wie geht es?" ist nicht mit dem englischen "How are you?" vergleichbar. Wenn man jemand nur begrüßen will, sagt man "guten Tag". Wenn man fragt, muss man auch mit einer Antwort rechnen.

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