How to Answer the Question “How Have You Been?” in Fluent English

How have you been?

“How have you been?” is a common question from native English speakers. It’s asking what you have been up to and how life has been for you from from a certain point in time. Perhaps you’re being asked how you’ve been doing since the last time you saw each other. Or maybe since the last time you spoke on the phone. Or it could also be since the last time you sent each other private messages online. 

You can see that it’s used in a similar way as “how are you?”However, your answer needs to be a little bit different.

When to Use the Question “How have you been?” 

But before we talk about how to answer this question, let’s talk about when to use or when to ask this question. To begin, there are two things to remember: 

First, only ask this question if you have met someone previously.

Second, only ask them if you have not seen one another for some time (like a week or longer).

Most importantly, this is not a question to ask someone you have just met, nor is it a question to ask someone you just saw yesterday. The question is actually focusing on the chunk of time that has passed since you saw that person.

“How have you been?” is about the chunk of time that has passed since you saw that person.


Short answers to answer the question 

One way to answer this question is to give short or one-word answers. This is usually the case when you are in casual conversations. Native English speakers tend to answer this way when they are conversing with others. Here are some examples of the short answers: 



“Not bad!” 

“Never been better!” 

“Could be better.” 

“A little crazy actually!” 


“Busy, busy.”

“As usual.”

Longer answers to answer the question 

But of course, there’s a longer way to answer this question. I mentioned earlier that it’s similar to answering the question “how are you?”. The difference is when you answer “how are you?”, you answer in present tense. Such as “I’m okay.” With “how have you been?”, on the other hand, you will be answering using the present perfect progressive tense. And this is done by using “I have been” plus the continuous verb form. Present perfect progressive tense describes an action that began some time in the past, continues in the present, and may possibly continue into the future. Here are some examples: 

How have you been? 

“I have been busy working.” 

“I’ve been traveling quite a bit since we saw each other last Christmas.” 

“Oh, I’ve been studying a little too hard. I need a break.” 

How has he/she been?

“Gabby’s been practicing cooking quite a bit.” 

“Well, he’s been spending a lot of time at the gym!” 

“Drew has been helping out kids in the neighborhood.” 

How to Sound More Fluent and Native-like when you Answer the Question “How have you been?

For example: I’ve been busy working a lot, too much maybe. How about you? How have you been?”

For example: I’ve been real busy starting up my own business, but it has been fun too. What have you been up to?

You can also check out the video version of this tutoruial. Watch how to answer the question “How have you been?” in fluent English.

After watching this English tutorial, if you want to learn more advanced grammar, I recommend Past Conditional Grammar – How to Use Should Have Been, Could Have been, and Would Have Been in English.

Are you looking for a way to improve your English? Would you like to know when you’re making a mistake? Click here to get information on our complete English course, Fluent Communication, and learn when we will open it again for new students. 

Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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