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"How is she?"
"She is lonely after her husband passed away."

Supposing that there is a woman who lost her husband and a friend of hers I come across. In this case, if I intend to ask if she is sad, lonely, etc about her, can I say “How is she?” It seems plausible, but when I think ‘how are you’ is used just as ‘hello’ remarks, it’s not easy to decide ‘how is she’ is proper or not.

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"How is she?" is a perfectly fine and quite common way of asking about someone, when you are interested in either their health or in their emotional state.

The meaning is the same as the phrase "How are you?" when used as a greeting. In fact, you can use "How are you?" beyond the polite formula, in situations where someone is (for example) bereaved, and you are sensitively showing your interest and concern.

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    Great answer! I just wanted to add that in this situation, "how are you doing" is also common, meaning basically "How are you coping (with your loss)?"
    – CocoPop
    Aug 5, 2014 at 13:13
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The meaning is the same as the phrase "How are you?" when used as a greeting. In fact, you can use "How are you?" beyond the polite formula, in situations where someone is (for example) bereaved, and you are sensitively showing your interest and concern.

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  • Welcome to ELL, Suraj, nice first answer.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 15, 2017 at 5:04

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