Do we always have to use the question how do you do? fixed in greeting people? Can we ask it in other situations rather than greetings? Like when we are wondering how someone is doing the given task.

Do we always have to use the question what do you do? for asking about sojeone's job? Can we use it sonetimes instead of ** what are you doing?**

  • 1
    You can say 'How is it going (along)?'. 'How are you doing?' is more about asking whether the person is feeling well and 'How do you do.' is actually not used as a question, but as a greeting.
    – Vlammuh
    May 31, 2015 at 10:11
  • ..& as a greeting, it's probably no longer used by most natives, not since the 1960's. May 31, 2015 at 10:21
  • Notice that traditionally, the answer to "How do you do", is actually, "How do you do"!
    – 13509
    Jul 27, 2015 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


How do you do?

is something said only upon meeting someone for the first time. We do still say it here in the US, although you're less likely to hear it from the lips of someone born after 1980. "Nice to meet you" is a common alternative.

How are you doing?

is something said when conversing with an acquaintance.

What do you do?

means "What is your job or profession?"

What are you doing?

means "What task or activity are you engaged in at the moment?"

  • I don't think many AmE speakers today are aware that "how do you do?" should only be used on a first meeting.
    – The Photon
    May 31, 2015 at 15:36
  • @TRomano -Can we also use "what do you do?" to mean what activity are you engaged in at the moment? My teacher once used it not to mean asking my classmate's job. Was my teacher correct? Can we also use "how do you do?" to mean how someone is doing something? Like cooking a meal?
    – user5036
    May 31, 2015 at 16:11

In answer to your latter questions:

No, we do not say "how do you do"? When asking someone how they do something; we say

  • How do you do that?

No, we do not use "what do you do" to ask what someone is doing right now. Normally, this is understood as asking what someone habitually does, usually meaning one's employment. However, we do say

  • What do you do when/if [something happens]?

For example: "What do you do if it rains?" "I take my umbrella."

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