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When you ask someone how they are feeling when they have a broken arm, does it make sense to ask

Do you feel any better?

It feels like this is used more when they have a cold. So I'm wondering if I can say

Is your broken arm better?

Or

Is your arm better?

I can probably ask "how is your arm," but I want to know if I can use my two examples above. Thank you!

  • In the same way you used "feeling any" in your first sentence, you can also use those words when asking about the broken arm: Is your arm feeling any better? – J.R. Jan 31 '14 at 22:48
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All examples are fine. However, I think "do you feel any better" seems a little silly for the semantic reason that, well, obviously they feel better than they felt the day their arm was broken, and then we expect their arm to feel about the same until the cast is removed. But it's not that silly.

(For a cold, it makes more sense, because one gets a cold, feels bad for a while, and then feels better, but it's not visible to the question-asker exactly when the cold-sufferer is feeling better.)

  • 2
    This reminded me of a conversation I had some years ago: Colleague: "I went hiking with [so-and-so] and he fell down a hill and broke his leg!" Me: "Is he OK?" Colleague: "No! His leg is broken!" – hunter Jan 31 '14 at 16:35
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  • "How do you feel? = I've just found out you broke your arm. It happened recently, presumably you are still feeling some pain.

  • Does your arm still hurt? = The answer is probably not, the accident happened a few days ago but it gives the sufferer the opportunity to talk about the excruciating pain he/she did experience at the time

  • Is your arm better? = I know when it got broken it must have hurt, so I am asking if your arm has stopped hurting since the accident.

  • Is your arm getting better? = Your arm has been in a cast for some time, I am asking you to fill me in with its healing process.

  • When is the plaster (of paris) coming off?"= I know for a fact your arm is very nearly healed, it's been almost a month and I don't know what else to ask you.

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I noticed your questions were closed-ended questions: questions that require a yes/no response. These are less effective at showing empathy and warmth.

You're most likely not really interested if their arm is still hurting. Only a doctor would be concerned with that. By asking, you are expressing concern for them. They can give you details after that if they want. I think the key is to simply ask something like "How are you doing?" or "How are you feeling?" and leave it open ended.

Let's say my friend Joe broke his arm on Monday and on Tuesday Sally leaves me a message to let me know. I call Joe Tuesday. First Call Dialog:

Joe: "Hello."
Me: "Hi Joe it's CoolHandLouis."
Joe: "Hi man."
Me: "Sally told me you broke your arm. Dang (ouch, wow, sorry, oh no, your-choice-of-quick-empathetic-comment). You ok?"
<--- OR --->
Me: "Sally told me you broke your arm. I'm really sorry to hear that. How are you doing?" (This is more formal.)
Joe: "Yeah it was stupid I caught the curb and fell over the front of my bike and hit a fire hydrant."
Me: "Oh man. I hate it when that happens..."
Joe: "Heh... yeah it sucks."
Me: "How's your bike?"
Joe: "It's alright, just scratched up a bit."
Me: "Hey next time break your bike and scratch your arm, ok?"
OR
Me: "You know, those fire hydrants... they'll win every time."
Joe: "Yeah that's for sure."
Me: "Let me know if you need any help with anything. I mean, I'm not going to be scratching anything for you..." (Joke is very informal. Only with someone I know well and have joked with before.)
Joe: "Ha! No I'm good."
Me: "Seriously, if you need anything, give me a call."
Joe: "Ok but I'm good. Thanks."

Three days go by and I call him back. Second Call Dialog:

Me: "Hey Joe."
Joe:"Hi CHL."
Me: "How are you doing?"
OR
Me: "I just wanted to call and find out how you're doing." (NOTE: This is more formal but sincere, and good for just about anything wrong.)
Joe: "Oh I'm doing alright. Just watching a lot of TV."
Me: "How's your arm?"
Joe: "It's feeling better, thanks."

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