Saturday, March 11, 2006

Stop saying "How do you do" !

I don't know how many of you were taught to say "how do you do" at school, but I'd just like to tell you that virtually nobody says it anymore. If you want to enquire about someone's health, the question is "how are you?" or possibly "how are you doing?" which is more common in American English. Did you notice that I didn't put an exclamation mark after "how do you do" ? That's because it isn't a question. Your teachers mistakenly thought that it is the same as "how are you?", only a little more polite. The reality is, that in "posher" society, the phrase "how do do you do" is used when one is introduced, and the response is, funnily enough, "how do you do".
Strange, eh? Well I don't know anyone who says it these days, if you are being introduced to someone you've never met before, you should say "nice to meet you". Here is another example of misleading teaching from non-native teachers of English. I hear tons of examples of old-fashioned expressions from students who learned English from teachers who learned English thirty or forty years ago. Stay in touch with modern English by reading and listening to the radio.

2 comments:

Your Teacher said...

Hi! Fellow English Teaching Blogger Person. I am about to publish your article on Flash Cards.

But, I just want to mention that when you enter the world of academia and business in the UK - you go to a conference in London - every third person you meet says "How do you do?" and you reply "I am very well thank you." - Ooops!

This happened to a new German student of mine who was horrified when I told him they were only saying "Hello".

It's not dead yet, but it is dying out. Now we have to start teaching "Wha's up!"

Jonathan Lewis said...

You must be posh! - on the estate where I grew up in Redditch you'd get beaten up for saying "how do you do?"