How to ask how are you in Italian

There’s more than one way to ask how are you in Italian, and you’ll be very happy to know that these ways depend on the level of formality between you and the people you’re addressing (sniffing sarcasm here…).

Come sta?
How are you? (polite)

Come va?
How are you? (polite)

come va? - man drinking an energy drink with a flame behind him

So, without further ado, let’s see what distinguishes a come sta? from a come va?.


How do you ask how are you in Italian?

Come stai?
How are you? (informal)
Literally: How do you stay?

Come sta?
How are you? (formal)
Literally: How do you stay?

how are you in italian - come sta - two women greeting each other

Stai and sta are conjugations of the verb stare, which means to stay.

You use come stai? with people you address on a first-name basis, while you use come sta? with elderly people, people you don’t know very well, and generally with people you need to show respect to.

Basically, an i makes the difference between politeness and rudeness. Watch your vowels!


Other common ways of asking how are you in Italian

Come va?
How’s it going?

Come ti va?
How’s it going for you? (informal)

Va is the third-person singular present tense conjugation of the verb andare, which means to go.

Italians use come va? mostly with friends and relatives. It’s neither formal nor informal, although you’ll rarely hear it in formal situations.

On the other hand, you use come ti va? to ask how are you in Italian to friends with whom you have a very informal relationship. By comparison, it might still be too informal to address a co-worker in this way. I’d say you’re more likely to hear it from uneducated people.

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Cosa dici di bello?
How are you doing? (informal)
Literally: What do you say of nice?

Cosa mi dici di bello?
How are you doing? (informal)
Literally: What do you say of nice to me?

cosa mi dici di bello? - two people, a man and a woman, drinking coffee at a table

Let’s break them down.

Cosa means what. Mi means to me. Dici is the second person singular conjugation of the verb dire, which means to say. Di bello literally translates to of nice, meaning “things that are nice”.

It could be literally translated as “What do you say to me that’s nice?”.

These forms are informal ways of asking how are you in Italian. If you want a more lively tone, you can add the pronoun mi to the sentence.

Ideally, you would use cosa mi dici di bello? while happily chatting with a close friend after you haven’t seen each other in a while. On this occasion, friends and family members are likely to kiss each other on the cheek.

kisses on the cheek - a woman kissing a friend or a relative on her cheek

Replies to how are you in Italian

Sto bene, grazie.
I’m fine, thanks.

Va bene, grazie.
It’s going well, thanks.

These two sentences are the answers to come sta/i? and come va?, respectively.

how are you in italian - great thanks

It’s common courtesy to reciprocate, so you will ask…

E tu?
And you? (informal)

E lei?
And you? (formal)

So some standard answers might include…

Sto bene, grazie, e tu?
I’m fine, thanks, and you? (informal)

Bene, grazie, e lei?
I’m fine, thanks, and you? (formal)


What other how are you‘s are there in Italian?

Va tutto bene?
Is everything alright? (informal)

woman crying and another woman comforting her

And if for some reason you feel like answering something other than what is socially expected in such a situation (Italians will say they feel great even when they clearly don’t!), you can be brutally honest (brutalmente onesto, if you’re a man, or onesta, if you’re a woman) and say…

No, non va affatto bene!
No, it’s not going well at all!

With affatto that translates at all.


Now what?

You can do the Italian how are you interactive exercises!

Now that you’ve seen how to ask how are you in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.

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