a. Where are you? I am here in the room.

b. Where have you been? I have been here in the room.

My question is below:

  1. What is the difference in meaning between the two sentences above? Could you explain in detail, please?
  • "Where have you been?" usually implies that the person has returned after an unexplained absence.
    – Kate Bunting
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Where are you? is asking where one is right now. Generally, it implies that the querent and the respondent are in different locations, and the querent wishes to know the respondent's present location.

Where have you been? is asking where one was at a recent time in the past, over an undefined period. It implies nothing about the current location of either the querent or the respondent. It does imply that the querent expected the respondent to be somewhere at a specific time, but the respondent was not at the appointed place at the appointed time.


(Q is Querent, R is Respondent.)
(Q is talking to R over the telephone. They have planned to meet at the train station at a specific time.)

Q: I'm at the ticket concourse, and I don't see you. Where are you?
R: Oh, I must have misunderstood you when we agreed to meet - I'm on the platform. Stay there, I'll come over to you.

(Q is Querent, R is Respondent.)
(Q is a parent, waiting at home for R, a minor, who has just returned from seeing friends - later than R had promised to be home.)

Q: I thought you were to be home by nine-o-clock! Where have you been?
R: I'm sorry; we went to the Burger Barn after getting out of the movie, and just lost track of the time talking about stuff.

  • I am not a native English speaker but, this is my first time I see the word querent. Was querent used to mean an asker? I looked up the word and the definition of it was inquirer, specifically who consults an astrologer. So is it really legit to use querent in the sense you used? I am asking merely out of wondering. And your answer also helped me a lot even though I didn't ask the question. Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 8:19
  • 1
    I just assumed it was used because Q and R are next to each other in the alphabet. I'm certainly unfamiliar with the use of "querent" in this context (not saying it can't be, I just have never come across it).
    – user81621
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 10:43
  • 1
    @SmartHumanism - It may be technically a 'dodgy' usage, but I don't think it completely inappropriate, given how often those who ask questions on StackExchange seem to take the responses as very nearly divine wisdom :) (I've been using it for years, and certainly this is the first time it's been questioned.) Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:55
  • Thank you for your responding. But, maybe because I am not a native English speaker, I couldn't understand what you meant from a part of your speech: as very nearly divine wisdom. I am sorry for my poor interpreting skill. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 19:21
  • 1
    @SmartHumanism - In some ways, people asking questions on StackExchange treat the site as though it were an Oracle, and the answers that they receive as though they were posted by gods. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 19:25

"Where are you?" refers to the current time.
"Where have you been?" refers to a time in the past.

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