¿Cómo estás? vs ¿Cómo está? (2023)

Quick answer – both ‘¿Cómo estás?’ and ‘¿Cómo está?’ mean ‘How are you?’ in Spanish. ‘¿Comó estás?’ is the informal (but more common) ‘’ form and ‘¿Comó está?’ the more formal ‘usted’ form (the use of which varies according to the country that you´re in).

¿Cómo está?’ can also refer to ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘it’ (like ‘How is he / she?’ in English).

So, which one to choose?

Well, it´s gonna depend on the situation and the country you´re in.

In all Spanish speaking countries ‘¿Cómo estás?’ translates to ‘How are you?’ and ´¿Cómo está?´ to ‘How is he / she?’.

The more confusing part is the ‘usted’ form as it´s used (way!) more in some countries (looking at you Colombia) than others (eyes firmly fixed on Spain)!

Wanna know more?

Let´s get into the nitty gritty!

¿Cómo estás?‘ vs ‘¿Cómo está?

As you may have noticed, the first word (‘cómo’) in these phrases remains the same. This is true if you’re addressing a group of people, your mother, or the President of Mexico!

The word that does vary according to the situation and who you are conversing with is the ‘estás’ (or ‘está’).

“But what exactly is this pesky ‘estás’?”, I hear you cry … “and why on earth doesn´t it just stay the same?”!

Well, let´s think about the English equivalent for a sec …

The literal translation of ‘Cómo estás’ is ‘How are you?’ which obviously changes in English too, depending on the context. For example, if you want to ask how a group of people who are NOT present are in English, you´d obviously say, ‘How are they?’.

What´s the common denominator?

Well, the verb ‘to be’, of course!

Yes, we can blame the humble verb ‘to be’ for all our woes (well, all our ¿comó estás / está? related woes at least!)

Let´s conjugate ‘to be’ in the present tense to shed some light on the matter!

PresentEnglish translation
yoestoyI am
estásyou are
él / ella / ustedestáhe /she / it is (usted = you are)
nosotrosestamoswe are
vosotrosestáisyou (pl.) are
ellos / ellas / ustedesestánthey are

So, as you can see above, the verb ‘estar’ changes depending on who exactly you are referring to.

The expression ‘¿Cómo estás?’ follows the same rules as ‘estar’ in the sense that if you just want to launch a friendly ‘How are you?’ at the person you´re talking to, ‘estás’ should be your conjugation of choice (hence ‘¿Cómo estás?’).

(Video) 6 answers to ¿Cómo estás? for children learning Spanish

If, however, you are asking after a single person (or dog, cat, ferret, etc.) not present at the time, ‘está’ would be your go-to instead!

‘Cómo estás‘ (informal) vs ‘Cómo está’ usted (formal)

As mentioned previously, both these phrases CAN mean the exact same thing (i.e., ‘How are you?’), but ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ edges things in the formal stakes because it´s in the ‘usted‘ form.

To truly understand these two expressions, we need to delve deeper into ‘’ vs. ‘usted’, and the contexts in which each of them are used.

First, let´s look at the general “guidelines” (put in inverted commas as they vary greatly from place to place) as to when to use ‘usted’.

So, what exactly is ‘usted’?

Well, it´s basically a more formal way of saying ‘you’, formed by using the third person singular form of a verb (for example, ‘está’, ‘canta’ or ‘come’).

Let´s look at a few examples –

¡Usted canta muy bien!

You sing really well!

¿Quiere algo más?

Would you like like anything else?

¿De dónde es* usted?

Where are you from?

*Erika´s note –es‘ is used in this example as we´re referring to a more “permanent” quality.

I recommend you head on over to our article on ‘es‘ vs ‘está‘ if you still get the two confused on occasion!

(Video) 10 Diferentes maneras de decir "CÓMO ESTÁS" en inglés!!

And when is ‘usted’ used?

Well, this really depends on the country!

In most Latin American countries, ‘usted’ is used when speaking to elderly people AND in formal situations, such as a work environment or when you´re talking to teachers, doctors, etc.

It´s basically used as a way of showing respect to the person you´re conversing with.

Tread carefully though! It´s more common (and the rules are more strictly adhered to) in certain countries than it is in others.

In Mexico (where I live), ‘usted’ is often used with elderly people and *sometimes* with people you don´t know, but neither of these rules are hard and fast as I hear people flouting them on a near daily basis.

The strictness to which these rules are adhered also depends on the area of Mexico in which you are in (I´d generally say that people are more likely to use ‘usted’ in rural areas).

In Colombia, ‘usted’ is super common and ‘¿Cómo está?’ is actually the preferred way of saying ‘How are you?’ in most circumstances.

In Spain, however, ‘usted’ is used very little and you´re very unlikely to be asked ‘¿Cómo está?’ (let alone ‘¿Cómo está usted?’)!

As a rule, I´d use ‘¿Cómo está?’ when addressing elderly people in any Latin American country and in any situation that you consider to be remotely formal. You may miss the mark, but it´s better to play it safe!

Erika´s top tip – often the best thing to do is to listen carefully to how others around you are addressing the person in question and then go from there!

When to use ‘¿Cómo están?

¿Cómo están?´ is the Spanish equivalent of ‘How are they?’, or ‘How are you (plural)?´ when used in the formal ‘usted’ form.

Let´s look at a few examples –

Sandra – Mis hijas acaban de regresar de viaje.

Manuel – ¿Y cómo están? ¿Cómo la pasaron?

Sandra – My daughters have just got back from holiday.

(Video) Liberación - ¿Cómo Estás Tú?

Manuel – And how are they? Did they have a good time?

Buenos días, ¿cómo están el día de hoy?

Morning, how are you (plural) today?

Cómo está usted‘ response

You can generally respond to ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ in the exact same way as you would to a simple ‘¿Cómo estás?’.

Normally, the best (and easiest!) response is ‘Muy bien, ¿y tú?’ or ´Muy bien, ¿y usted?’ (depending on whether or not you´re actually feeling ‘muy bien’ or not, of course).

Feeling adventurous you say?

Well, let´s have a look at a few other options –

¡Muy bien, gracias!

This one literally translates to ‘Very well, thank you!’ and it´s the perfect response to a ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ if you´re feeling upbeat and jovial!

¡Todo bien, gracias!

¡Todo bien, gracias!’ is a tad more informal than ‘¡Muy bien, gracias!’, but it´s an easy to remember and native-sounding response!

It’s a bit like the English ‘All good, thanks!

¿Cómo está usted?

¡Todo bien, gracias!

How are you?

All good, thanks!

Erika´s note – just remember that ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ is a more formal way of asking ‘How are you?´, so an equally formal response is required in some (but definitely not all!) situations.

¡Pues, más o menos!

This is the one to plump for if you´re not having the best of days as it’s the Spanish equivalent of ‘I´m ok’.

(Video) "Cómo estás" - Ke Personajes | Lyrics

¿Cómo está usted?

¡Pues, más o menos, no me puedo quejar!

How are you?

I´m ok, can´t complain!

Ahí andamos / Ahí ando

This one´s similar in meaning to ‘más o menos’.

It´s a very Mexican expression and means something along the lines of ‘Well, I suppose things could be better, but I really can´t complain’. You´ll hear this one a lot on the streets of Mexico City!

Man conversing with a tamale* seller early one morning in Mexico City.

¿Cómo está usted?

Ahí andamos. ¡Y usted?

How are you?

I´m ok and you?

*Erika´s note – tamales are a tasty Mexican / Latin American treats made from corn dough.

Final thoughts

There we have it!

I´m sure that once you´ve really got your teeth into the Spanish language, knowing whether to say ‘¿Cómo estás?’ and ‘¿Cómo está?’ will become second nature!

With a bit of luck this article will have also given you a nudge in the right direction.

Be sure to check out my article on ‘estuve‘ vs ‘estaba‘ if you wanna improve your Spanish grammar!

¡Hasta pronto!


What is the correct response to cómo estás? ›

When someone asks you ¿Cómo estás? If you feel alright, you say estoy bien; you could also say, estoy muy bien, to give more emphasis, which means “very good” or “very well.” You can also add one extra word, gracias, meaning “thanks”, and estoy bien, gracias; it means “I'm fine, thank you.” 2.

What is a more informal way of asking Cómo estás? ›

Hola is the most common Spanish greeting. Although it's considered informal by some, in reality you can say it to your best friend or to a complete stranger. It's one of the best conversation starters in Spanish and it's usually followed by one of the questioning greetings included below. Hola, ¿cómo estás?

What can I say instead of Como estas? ›

  • All the Ways to Say How Are You in Spanish. ¿Cómo estás? ¿Cómo te va? ¿Cómo andas? ¿Qué pasa? ¿Qué hay? ¿Qué hay de nuevo? ¿Qué tal? ¿Qué tal todo? / ¿Qué tal va todo? ¿Cómo van las cosas? ¿Cómo va todo? ¿Cómo va? ¿Qué onda? ¿Todo bien? ¿Qué cuentas? ¿Cómo te trata la vida? ¿Qué hubo? ¿Qué hacés? ...
  • Conclusion.

How to respond to como te llamas? ›

Pronounced: kohm-oh te yamas. This phrase means “what is your name?” The correct response when somebody asks you “como te llamas” is “me llamo [insert your name here].” Pronounced: may yamo [insert your name here].

Is Cómo estás formal? ›

How to Say Hello How Are You in Spanish. If you'd like to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish, you can use “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (informal/singular). If you are greeting someone in a more formal setting, you'll want to use “Hola, ¿cómo está?” (formal/singular).

How do you respond to Como estas like a native? ›

11 Responses to “Cómo estás” that will make you sound like a native speaker
  1. Estoy bien. I'm fine.
  2. Estoy mal. I'm not well.
  3. Todo bien.
  4. No me puedo quejar.
  5. No puedo quejarme.
  6. Bien, aquí nomás.
  7. Estoy más o menos. I'm ok.
  8. Bien, en lo que cabe. Fine, all things considered.
Aug 13, 2019

How do Mexicans say how are you? ›

The most basic greeting that you would use to ask “How are you?” to one person, in an informal setting, is: ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?) A slight variation on this greeting is ¿Cómo estás tú? This means exactly the same thing, but includes the optional pronoun tú (you).

How do you address someone politely in Spanish? ›

1) How To Say “You,” Politely

Usted (singular) is an expression of formality while ustedes (plural) is used for anyone whether you're just meeting or you do know them well. Usted is the appropriate choice for business meetings and social situations, as well as when you're talking to an elder or senior.

What is a polite greetings in Spanish? ›

Formal and informal greetings

Formal. Informal. Buenos días - Good morning. Hola - Hello/hi (the most common greeting) Buenas tardes - Good afternoon/evening.

What is a negative response to Como estas? ›

“Mal.” Like in English, “bad” is another standard response to “¿Cómo estás?” If you tell someone that you're not doing well, be ready to explain why—you might say something like “Mal.

Whats como esta mean? ›

¿Cómo estás? (How are you?) It`s a question that they certainly ask you frequently when you come to Spain. Do you know what you have to answer?

Is Como se llama correct? ›

¿ Cómo se llama ? - What is his name?

Is Como Te Llama correct? ›

Cómo te llamas is a conversational way to ask someone “What's your name?” in Spanish.

What are 3 formal greetings in Spanish? ›

Initial Greetings
SpanishEnglish equivalentFormality
Buenos díasGood morningSlightly formal
Buenas tardesGood afternoonSlightly formal
Buenas nochesGood night/Good eveningSlightly formal
Muy buenas/buenasShort version of all the aboveInformal
1 more row

Is there a polite form in Spanish? ›

In the Spanish language we have the option to talk to someone in a polite way. This is used at restaurants and other similar situations. Usted is the formal version of tú (you, 1 person), and ustedes is te formal version of vosotros (you guys).

What is the difference between Cómo estás and Cómo eres? ›

Refers to how you are as a person — your physical or personality traits. ¿Cómo estás refers to how you are currently — the way you are feeling at the moment. This difference exists because of the two Spanish verbs for to be: ser and estar.

How do you greet and respond in Spanish? ›

Here are the most common greetings in Spanish:
  1. Hola – Hello. Buenas – Hi (informal) ...
  2. ¡Buenos días! – Good morning! ...
  3. Adiós – Goodbye. Chao – Goodbye. ...
  4. ¿Qué tal? – How are you? ...
  5. Estoy estupendo – I am great. Estoy muy bien – I am very well. ...
  6. ¿ Cuál es tu nombre? – ...
  7. Gracias – Thank you. ...
  8. ¿

How do you respond to a compliment in Spanish? ›

So here are some tips on how to reply when you get a compliment in Spanish.
  1. Gracias, eres muy amable. “Thanks, you are very kind.”
  2. Gracias por el cumplido. “Thanks for the compliment.”
May 28, 2020

How do you respond to Guapa? ›

1 Answer
  1. Gracias, guapa. (Beautiful)
  2. Gracias, maja (friendly)
  3. Gracias cariño (my dear. This is usual in shops, when salespeople thank you for your purchase)
Feb 26, 2019

How do Mexicans say okay? ›


There's no literal translation for órale in English. Instead, it can mean one of a few different expressions, such as: “Okay”

How do Mexicans say please? ›

In Spanish, “please” is: Por favor.

How do you greet a Mexican girl? ›

To greet someone in Mexican, you can say either Hola or Buenas Dias. Hola is the most basic way to say “hello” in Mexican.

How do you speak respectfully in Spanish? ›

Using Usted and Ustedes

Usted shows respect while tú indicates familiarity. Usted is the proper choice for formal situations or any situation in which you're talking to someone much older than you. Ustedes is the correct pronoun to choose when addressing more than one person, either formally or casually.

How do you respectfully address a woman in Spanish? ›

Courtesy titles for women in Spanish are señorita and señora.

What does the EZ at the end of Spanish names mean? ›

the -ez suffix

It is suprising the number of Spanish surnames end in ez. This is because it means "son of", like the suffix -son and -sen in many German and Scandinavian languages. In Portuguese the -ez becomes a -es. e.g. Fernández is the son of Fernando [Ferdinan]

Can you just say Buenas? ›

Fun fact: One curious detail is that buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches are formal ways to greet in Spanish, but when Spanish natives want to greet friends or family or neighbors in an informal way, they will just say “buenas” as an alternative to “hola.” You will hear this a lot if you pay attention - it's ...

How do you say hello elegantly? ›

Formal Ways To Say “Hello”
  1. Good morning/afternoon/evening. These are classic, formal phrases to use when greeting someone, whether it's the first time meeting them or if you've already met them before. ...
  2. Pleased to meet you. ...
  3. It's nice to meet you. ...
  4. It's good to see you. ...
  5. How are you? ...
  6. Hey. ...
  7. What's up? ...
  8. What's new?

Is bien gracias formal? ›

Good, thanks, and you? (informal) – Bien, gracias, ¿y tú? An informal phrase, it means you are doing well, you are thanking them for asking and you are asking the person who greeted how they are doing.

Is De nada an appropriate response? ›

Is De nada an appropriate response? The response to gracias that you're most likely to use or hear is de nada (you're welcome), or you could say, if appropriate, a tí (thank you). For greater emphasis you can use no hay de qué (don't mention it).

How do you respond to De donde? ›

“I am from…” is the most typical response to this question.

You can say you're from a city, state, or country, just like in English: “Soy de Palo Alto,” “Soy de California,” and “Soy de los Estados Unidos” are all completely correct.

Is no Mames offensive? ›

No mames (literally means 'don't suck it') is one of the most ubiquitous Mexican swearwords.

Why do Mexicans say no Mames? ›

No mames guey is a Mexican Spanish term that has a variety of meanings, including "no way," "shut up," and "you idiot." It can be used as an interjection or as a response to someone who has said something foolish.

What is pota in Spanish slang? ›

echar la(s) pota(s) (very informal) to puke (very informal) ⧫ throw up (informal)

What does Aloha Como Estas mean? ›

¡Hola! Cómo estás? could be translated to 'Hello/Hi! How are you?'

Why do Spanish people say Como for what? ›

Como is a conjunction. It can be translated by as or like when it is used to introduce a comparison or a subordinate clause. For example: Como te decía antes, esa chica es muy vanidosa.As I was saying before, that girl is very vain.

What does Hasta Manana mean? ›

hasta mañana in American English

(mɑˈnjɑnɑ ) Spanish. so long; (I'll) see you tomorrow.

What is the most appropriate response to Gracias? ›

The response to gracias that you're most likely to use or hear is de nada (you're welcome), or you could say, if appropriate, a tí (thank you). For greater emphasis you can use no hay de qué (don't mention it).

What is a response to Muchas Gracias? ›

Está bien - It's all good

When one says “muchas gracias por tu ayuda”, you can respond with “oh, está bien”.

How do you respond to El gusto es mio? ›

MONSERRAT: Yo soy Monserrat, mucho gusto. MONSERRAT: I'm Monserrat; it's a pleasure to meet you. JESÚS: El gusto es mío. JESÚS: The pleasure is mine.

Is it rude to say Como? ›

Here is what I found on spanish.about.com: Cómo meaning "what": Cómo is seldom used to mean "what," except as an interjection expressing incredulity. In some areas, ¿cómo? is used to ask someone to say something over again, although in some other areas it can be considered mildly rude .

Is que pasa formal or informal? ›

You can use Que Pasa for both formal and informal settings.

If you're asking it as a genuine question like “what is happening?” you can use it in the formal setting. What is this? If you're using it as a greeting between friends like “what's up,” you can use it in an informal setting.

¿Is como se llama formal? ›

To say “my name is…” in Spanish you say me llamo… In this episode of Coffee Break Spanish To Go, Marina asks the question, ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama usted? (formal). You can use the answers of our interviewees to help you learn to introduce yourself in Spanish.

Is it yo llamo or me llamo? ›

It's optional in Spanish to use Yo in front of me llamo. GRAMMAR: Yo me llamo is the first person singular of the verb llamarse in El Presente.

Is it Como Te Va or Como Te Vas? ›

"¿Cómo te vas?" is an informal way of asking “how do you get there?” Or “how will/can you get there?” “¿Cómo te VA?" This is an informal way of asking “How's it going?” "¿Cómo se VA?" In this case is the formal way. The word “se" is like using “thee" or “thou”.

How do you respond to an email in Spanish? ›

Atentamente/Sinceramente – Sincerely. Cordialmente – Cordially. Esperando su repuesta – Waiting for your reply.

What is the correct way to say this in Spanish? ›

How to Say This in Spanish. If you are using “this” as a pronoun or adverb, you'd say “este” (masculine) or “esta” (feminine). If the noun is neutral, you can use “esto”.

How do you accept compliments in Spanish? ›

So here are some tips on how to reply when you get a compliment in Spanish.
  1. Gracias, eres muy amable. “Thanks, you are very kind.”
  2. Gracias por el cumplido. “Thanks for the compliment.”
May 28, 2020

How do you respectfully greet someone in Spanish? ›

¿Qué hubo? (What ́s up?). A more formal way to greet someone is saying buenos or buenas, followed by the part of the day you are in: días (days), tardes (evening) or noches (night). The two words are always in plural.

What is Spanish slang for thanks? ›

Gracias” is the most common and simple way to say thank you in Spanish. It translates to either “Thanks” or “Thank you” and, although it's included in this informal section, it can be used in both formal and informal settings.

How do Mexicans say good morning? ›

Buen día. "Good morning" is Buenos días.

How to tell a girl she's hot in Spanish? ›

For example, estar guapa means that a woman looks pretty at that moment, whereas ser guapa means that she is always pretty.
  1. Bonito/a. ...
  2. Guapo/a. ...
  3. Bello/a – Beautiful. ...
  4. Lindo/a – Lovely. ...
  5. Bueno/a – Good-looking. ...
  6. Hermoso/a – Gorgeous. ...
  7. Atractivo/a – Attractive. ...
  8. Radiante – Radiant.
Sep 30, 2022

What are two responses to Gracias? ›

The response to gracias that you're most likely to use or hear is de nada (you're welcome), or you could say, if appropriate, a tí (thank you). For greater emphasis you can use no hay de qué (don't mention it).

How to tell a girl shes perfect in Spanish? ›

  1. Hermosa / Hermoso – Beautiful. A common way to say “You are beautiful” in Spanish. ...
  2. Bella / Bello – Pretty. ...
  3. Bonita / Bonito – Pretty or Nice. ...
  4. Preciosa / Precioso – Gorgeous or Precious. ...
  5. Guapa / Guapo – Handsome. ...
  6. Linda / Lindo – Lovely. ...
  7. Adorable – Adorable. ...
  8. Atractivo / Atractiva – Attractive.
Sep 2, 2022

Is there a difference between Que and Qué? ›

Que and Qué

The word is the same but can be used differently, and the accent plays a critical role. In a minute, we'll explore the different meanings of que, but now you must understand that when que has an accent, as in qué, it is because it's part of a question, an exclamation, or an interjection.

What are the 3 regular verb endings in Spanish? ›

There are three types of Spanish regular verbs. You'll easily recognize them by theirs endings: -ar, -er or –ir. Think bromear, comer, and escribir.

Is there only one way to say you in Spanish? ›

In Spanish there are two ways of saying "you": There's the informal form, tú and the more formal usted (often abbreviated as Ud.) Whether you use tú or usted depends on a variety of different factors, but it can be a bit intimidating for English speakers used to addressing everybody as "you".


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