Home LanguageGrammar How Have You Been VS How Are You: Differences

How Have You Been VS How Are You: Differences

by Logan

There are several common English sentences that we use in our day-to-day lives to interact with people. As a basic etiquette, the first thing we do when we meet someone is greet them, either by saying hello or asking them how they are.

English isn’t as complex as most people think, it’s the easiest language that one can learn. It’s also the global language, which means that almost every individual knows English at least to some extent.

Let’s talk about some of the most used expressions in the English language.

“How have you been” and “how are you” are those two sentences that people use instinctively, people often use these instead of saying hello.

“How have you been” is the present perfect tense, it means that one wants to know what have you been doing since the last time we saw each other.

“How are you” on the other hand is in the present tense, which means that one wants to know how you are doing right now.

The difference between “how have you been” and “how are you” is that, “how have you been” is in the present perfect tense, whereas “how are you” is in the present simple tense. “How have you been” means that one wants to what has been going on with you or in your life. “How are you” means that one wants to know what you are up to currently.

To differentiate between these sentences one must know all the tenses, therefore here is a list of them.

There are three main tenses: past, present, and future. Each of these tenses has four main aspects: simple, perfect, continuous (also called progressive), and perfect continuous.

TenseMeaningExample
Present simpleIt’s used for facts, and generalizations, as well as truths that aren’t affected by the passage of timeHe writes papers for his classes
Past simpleIt’s used for events that were done in the pastHe wrote the papers for his classes last month
Future simpleIt’s used for events that will be done in the futureHe will write papers for his classes next semester
Present perfect It’s used to describe events that started in the past and are expected to continue.He has written some of his papers for his classes, however, he still has a few papers left to write
Past perfectIt’s used to describe the events which happened before to other events in the pastHe had written a lot of papers for his classes before he switched colleges
Future perfectIt’s used to describe events that will be finished between now and a specific time in the futureHe will have written several papers for his classes by the end of this month
Present continuousIt’s used to describe actions that are currently ongoing (often temporary)He is writing a paper for his classes
Past continuousIt’s used to describe ongoing past events, usually, these events are in relation to the occurrence of another eventHe was writing a paper for his class when his pen broke
Future continuousIt’s used to describe the future events which are expected to continue over a certain period of timeHe will be writing many papers for his classes next semester
Present perfect continuousIt’s used to describe the events that began in the past and continue into the present or were recently finishedHe has been writing a paper all day, and now he needs to get some rest
Past perfect continuousIt’s used to describe events that started, continued, and ended in the pastHe had been writing a paper all day, and she needed to get some rest
Future perfect continuousIt’s used to describe events that will continue until a certain point in the futureHe will have been writing this paper for two months when he hands it in
Different tenses

Keep reading to know more.

What is the meaning of “How have you been”?

scrabble tiles spelling the words read more.
The usual response to “How have you been?” is usually “I have been doing good.”

“How have you been” is a present perfect tense which means that someone is asking you how have you been doing lately or what is going on in your life.

When someone asks you “how have you been”, they most probably want to know how you are doing, if you are okay or not. Moreover, they also want to know if you went through something personally.

“How have you been” is quite a personal question, however people usually respond to it by saying “I have been doing good”.

This question also leads to deep conversations often among friends or someone you are close to.

“How have you been” is mostly used when you meet someone after a certain period of time, meaning when you meet someone after three or four months and then you will encounter this question because the person who asked the question wants to know what was going on in your life in this while.

Learn more about the forms through this video.

How to use have been, has been, and had been

Should I use “How have you been?” or “How are you?”

‘How have you been’ and ‘how are you’ are both acceptable, therefore both can be used with whomever you want. However, ‘how have you been’ is used when a certain amount of time has passed since you last met, whereas ‘how are you’ can be used whenever you talk to the person, even if it’s every day.

‘How are you’ is a present simple tense, and it’s asking what is happening at the very moment.

‘How have you been’ sounds quite formal, however, it’s not the case. You can use it with whomever you want.

What is the response to “How have you been”?

There are many responses to ‘how have you been’, however primarily people respond to it by saying “I have been good” and either “how have you been” or “how are you” follows.

Imagine a teacher asked you “how are you” or “how have you been”, the conversation should go as:

Teacher: How have you been?

You: I have been doing good, thank you for asking. How about you?

a card that says hello
There are countless responses to ‘how have you been’

Here is a list of responses to ‘how have you been?’.

  • Never felt better
  • Not bad
  • I’m alright.
  • Not too bad (meaning varies by the tone of the speaker’s voice)
  • So far, so good!
  • Same old, same old
  • Going With the flow
  • Could be better
  • Could be worse
  • Just the usual
  • Can’t complain
  • Alive and kickin’
  • Living a dream
  • Crazy lately
  • Blessed
  • Good actually
  • Don’t ask!
  • All good
  • Trying to stay positive
  • Things are looking up
  • It’s been a tough week.
  • I’m struggling a bit.
  • I’m not going to lie.
  • Not doing so well

These are some of the most common responses and some of them also lead to deep conversations if this question was asked by a friend or someone you are close to.

How can we ask “how are you”?

a bunch of books stacked together
“How are you?” is the standard, however, there are other ways to ask the question.

“How are you” is quite common and now it’s also used instead of greetings. Nonetheless, there are several ways to ask someone how they are without saying the words “how are you”.

Here is a list of sentences that you can use instead of “how are you”.

  • How’s everything?
  • How’s it going?
  • Is everything alright?
  • How are things?
  • What’s up?
  • How are you doing?
  • What’s new?
  • You alright?
  • How have you been?
  • What have you been up to?
  • How are things going?
  • Are you well?

To Conclude

  • “How have you been” and “how are you” are used by people quite instinctively.
  • “How have you been” is the present perfect tense, which means that one is asking what have you been doing since the last time we met.
  • “How are you” is in the present tense, which means that one is asking how you are doing right now.
  • Past, present, and future are three main tenses, each of which has four main aspects: simple, perfect, continuous(or progressive), and perfect continuous.
  • Both “how have you been” and “how are you” are acceptable, which means you can use both of them whenever you want with whomever you want.

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