Wie geht’s?: How to ask and answer “How are you?” in German

In this week’s A1/A2 video I show you a few ways to ask and answer the question “How are you?” (Wie geht’s?) in German. Since this video is designed for the A1 and A2 levels, there are some things that are pretty basic and other things that are a bit more in depth. Below you will find a rundown of the phrases used and what you should learn from the video.

If you want to read the video transcript instead, you can find that below the and additional information. If you want to download the script as a side-by-side file with German and English next to each other or get an MP3 download of this, you can get that for free along with all of the other lessons in this series here.

Wie geht’s? vs Wie geht’s dir? vs Wie geht es Ihnen?

You may have noticed in the video that there were three different versions of the question “how are you?” in German. The first two listed are casual forms of address. The only difference is the inclusion or exclusion of “dir”. The meaning is the same either way. This is the form that you would use with your friends, relatives, and pets.

The third version is more formal and is used when you are talking to people of authority, strangers, and coworkers. If you know the difference between “du” and “Sie”, you will have no trouble with the difference between these three forms of the question.

Mir? Dir? Ihnen?

If you are just starting out with the German language, this is probably the first time you have seen the words “mir”, “dir”, and “Ihnen”. These are all different words for “you”, which are used to replace “ich”, “du”, and “Sie” when they are used in certain ways. While I could explain exactly why this happens in these sentences, if you are just starting out with the German language, you should hold off for a while.

The bottom line is this: If you are talking to a friend, relative, pet, or deity, you use the word “dir” in the question “Wir geht’s dir?” If you are talking to a coworker, person of authority, or stranger, you use the word “Ihnen” in the question “Wie geht es Ihnen?” If you are answering the question, you should usually use “mir” in the answer.

Learn all about the dative personal pronouns “dir”, “mir”, and “Ihnen” here.

“Mir geht’s gut?” Why not “Es geht mir gut.” or “Ich bin gut.”?

Again, there is a complicated answer to this, but for the beginners, Since you used “dir” or “Ihnen” in the question, the answer should usually have “mir” in it. While you can answer the question “Wie geht’s dir?” with “Ich bin…” and some adjectives, “gut” and “schlecht” are not on that list. If you are saying “I am well.” or “I am doing poorly.” you need to use “mir” in the German versions (“Mir geht’s gut.” “Mir geht’s schlecht.”).

To be fair, “Ich bin gut.” is a grammatically correct sentence. It just happens to mean that you are good at something. Someone says, “Wow. That was amazing. How did you do that?” You can answer with “Ich bin gut.”

As for the reason that you don’t say “Es geht mir gut/schlecht.”, there isn’t a really good answer. The main answer is that the word “mir” works in mysterious ways, but the real answer is, of course, more complicated and I don’t want to get into that in an A1/A2 blog post. For now, just know that “mir” likes to be the center of attention, which means it moves to the front of the sentence.

When can I say “Ich bin…”?

If you want to use the phrase “Ich bin…” to express how you are, you can simply add an adjective to the end of the sentence. This works for a ton of adjectives, but here are a few examples: krank (sick), müde (tired), nervös (nervous), etc.

You can also use this phrase to describe yourself in ways that don’t really answer the question “wie geht’s?” You can say: klug (smart), schlau (clever), intelligent (intelligent), hübsch (handsome), schön (beautiful), hässlich (ugly), dumm (dumb), groß (tall), klein (short), dick (fat), dünn (skinny), schlank (thin), fit (fit), perfekt (perfect), etc.

Looking for more adjectives? Learn how to describe yourself in German with 118 adjectives here.

Wie geht’s? Video Transcript

Conversation Example #1

A: Hallo. Wie geht’s?
B: Mir geht’s gut. Und dir?
A: Mir geht’s auch gut. Schön dich zu sehen.
B: Ja. Wir haben uns seit langem nicht mehr gesehen. Was machst du heutzutage?
A: Ich bin Jurist. Ich arbeite um die Ecke.
B: Das ist aber cool. Ich bin Geschäftsmann und arbeite nicht weit von hier.
A: Dann sehen wir uns ab und zu. Tschüss.
B: Tschüss.

Conversation Example #2

A: Guten Tag. Wie geht’s dir?
B: Es geht so. Und dir?
A: Mir geht’s auch nicht schlecht.
B: Hast du die neue Folge von “The Walking Dead” gesehen?
A: Nein. Ich schaue diese Serie nicht mehr. Es ist einfach zu langweilig. Wir gehen aber heute Abend ins Kino, oder?
B: Ja. Bis heute Abend. Tschüss.
A: Bis dann.

Conversation Example #3

A: Guten Morgen. Wie geht es Ihnen?
B: Mir geht’s ganz gut. Und Ihnen?
A: Heute ist ein wunderbarer Tag. Die Sonne scheint. Die Vögel singen. Herr Antrim bringt mir Deutsch bei. Was könnte besser sein?
B: Es wäre besser, wenn Herr Antrim attraktiver wäre.
A: Man kann nicht alles haben. Vielleicht wäre es besser, wenn Sie Sich um Ihr Deutsch kümmern und nicht ob Herr Antrim attraktiv ist.
B: Vielleicht sollte ich nächstes Mal einfach weiter laufen, anstatt mit Ihnen zu sprechen. Wiedersehen.
A: Auf wiedersehen.

Conversation Example #4

A: Guten Abend. Wie geht’s?
B: Mir geht es wirklich schlecht.
A: Was ist denn mit dir los?
B: Mein Bauch tut mir weh.
A: Das ist schade. Hast du heute etwas gegessen?
B: Ja, aber ich fühle immer noch nicht so gut.
A: Das tut mir sehr leid. Gute Besserung.
B: Danke. Tschüss.

Conversation Example #5

A: Grüß dich. Wie geht’s dir?
B: Prima. Und dir?
A: Gut, danke. Kommst du heute Abend mit uns zum Fußballspiel?
B: Ja. Das Spiel beginnt um acht, nicht wahr?
A: Ja. Wir sehen uns dann. Tschüss.
B: Tschau.

Conversation Example #6

A: Grüß Gott.
B: Grüß Gott. Wie geht es Ihnen?
A: Ich bin krank. Darf ich nach Hause gehen?
B: Ja. Wir haben heute nicht so viel zu tun. Gute Besserung.
A: Danke. Auf wiedersehen.

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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