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How to check in with people

6 min read
5 May 2021
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Checking in with people is something English speakers do a lot. Whether it's a good friend or someone you've just met, it's useful to know how to check in with people in a few different ways. This is a great way to start an informal conversation with anyone - from the barista at the coffee shop to a new acquaintance. 

Here are nine different ways to check in with someone in English.


1. What's up?

English speakers often say 'What's up?' as a way of greeting each other informally. Native speakers often say this very quickly, so it might sound like just 'Sup?' when you hear it. A typical conversation starting with this phrase might go like this: 

Speaker 1: 'Hey, what's up?'

Speaker 2: 'Nothing much, you?'

Speaker 1: 'Yeah, nothing much.' 

It's essentially just a casual way of checking in with someone, and confirming that nothing bad or out of the ordinary has happened. This phrase is slightly more common in American English, though you'll probably hear it in the UK too. 

In the UK, if you say 'What's up?' in a sincere, caring tone, it can have a slightly more serious meaning. When said this way, it can mean, 'Is anything wrong?' or 'Are you upset about something?' You might say 'What's up?' in this tone to someone if they look like they are upset, scared or confused.


2. What are you up to? 

This phrase simply means 'What are you doing?' It's a good way of checking if someone is busy. If you want to make plans with someone for a time in the future, you might say 'What are you up to on Friday night?' to find out if they're free to hang out. 

The past tense of this phrase is 'What have you been up to?' or 'What have you been up to lately?' You can say this to someone if you haven't seen them in a little while, to find out what they've been doing recently.


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3. How are you? 

This is probably the most common phrase to use if you want to check in with someone. In the UK, it's commonplace to start conversations with most people - whether they are a friend or a colleague - with 'Hey, how are you?' 

The typical response is usually something like 'Good thanks, and you?' 

Some alternatives are: 'How are you doing?' or 'How are you feeling?' 

'How are you doing?' is a bit more casual and non-specific. Again, you could say this to a friend or colleague or the person making your coffee. 'How are you feeling?' is more sincere and intimate. You might say this to check in on a good friend if they've been going through something tough, or haven't been well recently. 


4. How are things with you?

The meaning of this is essentially the same as 'How are you?' - but it's just a slightly different way of phrasing it. The emphasis here is slightly more on the 'things' going on in the person's life - like work or school - rather than their actual selves. 

You might also hear this shortened to just 'How's things?' 


5. How's it going?

You can use this as a conversation starter, like 'Hey, how's it going?' And it can also be a way of checking on how someone is getting on with something, like a task or project at work. This gives them an opportunity to let you know how much progress they've made, or if they need any help. 

Alternatives might be: 'How is everything going?' or 'How are things going?' 


6. Alright? 

In British English, the phrase 'Alright?' is often used as a standalone greeting - without a 'hey' or 'hello' before it. When it's said in this way, it doesn't really mean 'Are you alright?' - it's just another way of saying 'hi' or 'hello'. 

This is specific to British English - you won't hear this in American English. 


7. Are you okay?

You might say this to someone after something has happened to them, or if they look like they might be distressed or upset.

Alternatives might be: 'Are you well?' or 'Are you alright?' 

'Are you well' is much more formal and less commonly used. 


8. What's new with you?

This phrase is a good way of checking in with someone who you haven't seen for a little while. This gives them the opportunity to tell you about any new events that have happened in their life. 

You might also hear this shortened to just 'What's new?' 


9. What's been going on with you? 

This is another good phrase to use when you're catching up with someone who you haven't seen for some time. You're inviting them to tell you about what they've been doing recently and any new developments in their life since you last saw them. 


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