German Conversation: How to Make a Good First Impression

It happens a lot that when I start a lesson with a new student I ask “Hallo, wie geht’s?” (Hi, how are you?) and the answer I get is “Ich bin gut” (I am good) . However, that is wrong.

The root of the problem is that “How are you” in German translates to “How is it going to you” – “Wie geht es dir?”, or the short form “Wie geht’s?”. You cannot answer “How is it going to you?” with “I am good”, as you would do in English, but you have to say “It is going well to me” -> “Es geht mir gut”, or simply “Gut”.

Let’s have a look at a dialogue. We’ll start with informal German:

-Hallo, wie geht‘s? (Hello, how are you?)
-Es geht mir gut, danke. Und dir? (I’m good, thanks. And you?)
-Auch gut, danke. (Also good, thanks).

It‘s important to point out that you don’t ask “Und du?” but “Und dir?” because it’s the dative form.

And a formal dialogue looks like this:

-Guten Tag, wie geht es Ihnen? (Good afternoon, how are you?)
-Es geht mir gut, danke. Und Ihnen? (I’m good thanks. And you?)
-Auch gut, danke der Nachfrage. (Also good, thanks for asking)

What I recommend is actually not trying to understand the exact grammatical rules that are involved here, or translating word by word from English to German, but rather learn the German expressions as they are and then you know that you’re saying it right.
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