Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (2023)

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (1)

January 29, 2023 by Luis F. Dominguez Spanish Vocabulary 0 comments

Qué tal vs cómo estás is one of the first debates new Spanish learners engage in. That’s because these two everyday Spanish phrases are so common.

But, what’s the difference between qué tal and cómo estás? Are they the same? Or do they only exist to torment new learners of the language like yourself?

Today, I’m explaining the subtle differences between these two greeting questions and how native speakers use them and answer them.

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Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (2)

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás

If you’ve been learning Spanish for at least a little bit, you surely have seen these two questions being used on a daily basis. ¿Qué tal? and ¿Cómo estás? are both common Spanish greetings and conversation starters.

So, what exactly do they mean and what are the differences between them?

Think about greeting questions in English, such as “what’s up?”, “how are you doing?”, or simply “how are you?”, and you’ll get an idea not only of the meaning of these Spanish phrases, but also about the difficulty in differentiating one from another.

Qué tal

First of all, what does que tal mean?

This question in Spanish specifically asks about “how are you?”, “how’s it going?”, or “how are things?”.

It can be understood as a short version of a longer question such as ¿qué tal estás?, ¿qué tal está usted?, or even ¿qué tal cómo estás?.

I know that last question only creates more confusion, mixing both qué tal and cómo estás. But, I think that the similarity with English will help you to understand how these questions work.

Think about a situation where you may have greeted your friend like this: “What’s up! How are you?”, and you’ll understand how you can do the same in Spanish with qué tal and cómo estás.

(Video) The Most Simple Video Tutorial of QUÉ TAL vs CÓMO ESTÁS

Is Qué tal Formal or Informal?

If we were going to create a spectrum of formality and informality in Spanish greetings, qué tal would be slightly formal, yet without getting anywhere close to the extreme of formality.

You could say that qué tal is a bit more formal than cómo estás, and if you add the usted at the end of the phrase, then that formality grows considerably.

You also have to consider which part of the Spanish-speaking world you’re using this greeting question in. Because, although it’s not rare to hear in Latin America, it’s definitely more common to hear qué tal in Spain, where it’s the most common way of addressing someone, without any hint of formality at all.

How to Respond to ¿Qué tal?

When someone asks you ¿qué tal? in Spanish, you can respond like you normally would to “what’s up?” or “how are you?” question in English:

  • good – bien
  • bad – mal
  • more or less – más o menos

Let’s see some more common answers to the greeting question of ¿qué tal?:

Muy bien, gracias.
Very good, thank you.

Más o menos, estoy un poco triste.
More or less, I’m a bit sad.


No muy bien, las cosas no van muy bien.
Not too good, things aren’t going so well.

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (4)

Grammar Specifics of Qué Tal

Let’s now explore the specific grammar rules surrounding the Spanish greeting question, ¿qué tal?

Take a look at the following formulas to use with qué tal:

Qué tal + Noun

To make your greeting more specific, ask about the other person’s day, work, or family after the phrase qué tal.

¿Qué tal tu día?
How’s your day?

¿Qué tal tu trabajo?
How’s your job?

¿Qué tal tu familia?
How’s your family?

¿Qué tal tu fin de semana?
How was your weekend?

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (5)

Qué tal + Verb

You can also use qué tal before a verb to ask about how something is going or how it went.

¿Qué tal estás?
How are you?

(Video) Spanish 111 - How are you? / ¿Cómo estás? ¿Qué tal? ¿Cómo está usted?

¿Qué tal suena?
How does it sound?

¿Qué tal se ve?
How does it look?

¿Qué tal te va?
How’s it going?

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (6)

Cómo estás

¿Cómo estás? is perhaps the most common greeting question in Spanish, and after hola (hello), the most used Spanish greeting. It literally translates as “how are you?”, but it implies many other things.

Sometimes it isn’t even used as a proper question, but just as another way to say hi.

Formal or Informal?

In our imaginary spectrum of greeting formality, cómo estás is definitely more informal than qué tal. That’s because the conjugation of the verb estar (to be) is in the second-person singular in its informal form: .

However, if you compare cómo estás vs cómo está, then you have a different situation.

Because cómo está actually conjugates the verb estar in the second-person singular but in its formal form: usted.

In the case of cómo está, I’d have to say that it’s among the most formal greetings in Spanish.

In conclusion, cómo estás is fairly informal; while cómo está is one of the most formal greetings possible.

How to Respond to Cómo Estás

The most common cómo estás response is usually bien, gracias or “fine, thank you,” as (both in English and Spanish) most people aren’t actually interested in your real situation. It’s simply a common courtesy used to greet the other person.

The most common answers to the cómo estás question are the same as those for qué tal. Bien, mal, and más o menos, with all the different variants that those situations allow.

Muy bien gracias, ¿y tú?
Fine, thank you, and you?

Todo bien, gracias.
All good, thank you.

No muy bien que digamos.
Not too good to be honest.

Grammar Specifics of Cómo Estás

Use cómo estás to talk to people you know, like family and close friends. Remember that there are many other Spanish phrases to express exactly the same sentiment, such as:

¿Cómo vas?
How are you doing?

¿Qué onda?
What’s up?

¿Qué me cuentas?
What’s new?

(Video) How To Respond To Como Estas 👋🏽 Que Tal Response

¿Qué hay de nuevo?
What’s new?

Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (7)

Learn How to Use Greeting Questions Today

Greeting questions such as qué tal vs cómo estás are staples of everyday Spanish conversations. Mastering them is a sure sign that your Spanish is progressing in the right direction.

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Qué Tal vs Cómo Estás: What's the Difference? (11)

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Luis F. Domínguez is a freelance writer and independent journalist interested in travel, languages, art, books, history, philosophy, politics and sports. He has written for Fodor’s, Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated, Telemundo, and Villa Experience, among other brands of print and digital media in Europe and North America.

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(Video) How to reply to "¿Qué tal? / ¿qué pasa?"


Is Que tal estas correct? ›

Both "¿qué tal?" and "¿qué tal estás?" are correct. "¿que tal?" is more of a general "how's it going?" "¿que tal estás?" is more specific, as in "how are you?" "¿que tal están?" would also be correct if you're addressing more than one person. What does tal mean? Is this phrase a kind of idiom?

Where is que tal used? ›

In Spain this expression is used frequently and while it isn't the most elegant expression there is nothing wrong with using it on a regular basis (in fact, most people do). We might warn you though that most people don't ask you ¿qué tal? in a deep or profound sense.

What does que tal means? ›

que tal ? - what of it?

What is the difference between que tal and que pasa? ›

¿Qué tal? = How is it going? ¿Qué pasa? = What's up?

Is Que tal too informal? ›

¿Qué tal? is used in both, informal and formal situations, so you can greet an elderly person with ¿qué tal?

How would I respond to Que tal? ›

Pues, aquí...”.

How do you answer buenos dias que tal? ›

In short – the best (and easiest) response to 'buenos días' is a simple 'buenos días' in return! 'Hola, buenos días', 'buen día', 'igualmente' and 'como está' are also excellent responses! One of the phrases you´re going to hear all the time when in a Spanish speaking country is 'buenos días'.

What does mucho gusto? ›

Mucho Gusto

Pronounced: Moo-cho Goo-stow. This phrase means “nice to meet you.” It is obviously used when you're meeting someone for the first time. It can be used in the beginning and the end of the conversation.

Is Que Onda rude? ›

Que onda in Spanish is a way friends and family welcome each other in an informal situation. Remember, if you're using que onda as a greeting, it should be with someone you already know or in a casual scenario. Que onda is not acceptable in formal or elegant situations.

Why do Spanish people say que? ›

Some of the meanings of QUE. So, what does QUE in Spanish mean? Well, it can mean, THAT, it can also mean, WHICH, it can mean, WHAT as a statement and WHAT? as a question. Sometimes Spanish speakers use QUE in place of WHO, also.

Is Como estas formal or informal? ›

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). If you are talking to multiple people, you'd say “Hola, ¿cómo están?” (informal/plural).

What is the formal version of Como estas? ›

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).

What does Hasta Manana mean? ›

hasta mañana in American English

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

Is Mucho Gusto formal? ›

Mucho gusto, which literally means 'much pleasure,' is the Spanish equivalent of 'pleased to meet you,' and it's typically used in formal contexts.

Is Hasta luego formal? ›

Hasta luego

This is formal. You use it when you want to say goodbye to somebody you may see soon (or not), but you're not sure when.

How do you answer Que Horas? ›

When responding to these questions, the typical answer is just to say the time. Using A las/la hora y minutos de la mañana/tarde/noche. ¿A qué hora te despiertas?

How do you answer yes to a question in Spanish? ›

¡Sí! (Yes) The Spanish word for 'yes' is 'sí. '

How to respond to que hora es? ›

If somebody asks, ¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?) We say, “Son las 5” (It is 5 o'clock).

What Buenos Dias means? ›

: good morning : hello.

What is El gusto es mio? ›

English translation:the pleasure is mine.

Is Como se llama correct? ›

¿ Cómo se llama ? - What is his name?

Why do Mexicans say Mija? ›

Literally meaning “my daughter,” mija is used as a familiar and affectionate address to women, like “dear” or “honey,” in Spanish.

What is Spanish slang for lazy? ›

Flojo/a. Flojo/a is quite informal, but in many Spanish-speaking countries, it's probably the word you'll hear the most for “lazy” in Spanish. What is this? The word floja is widely used in both Latin America and Spain, and all Spanish speakers will understand it.

Why do Mexicans say Orale? ›

Órale is a common interjection in Mexican Spanish slang. It is also commonly used in the United States as an exclamation expressing approval or encouragement. The term has varying connotations, including an affirmation that something is impressive, an agreement with a statement (akin to "okay"), or to signify distress.

What is the difference between Como and Que? ›

Whats the best way to differentiate? Cómo is generally used for "how" in questions and qué is generally used for "what" in questions.

What does que padre means? ›

1) Describing something cool as being 'so father'!

countless times, meaning '(that's) so cool! '. In Mexico, the phrase ¡Qué padre! is used instead, which literally means '(that's) so father!

Do Spanish people say Que Pasa? ›

Do people say que pasa in Spain? ¿Qué pasa? is very common in Spain, but not so much in Latin American countries. It literally means “What's happening?” or “What's going on”.

Is Bien Gracias formal or informal? ›

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 muy buenos dias formal or informal? ›

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

Can you use Como to say what? ›

¿Cómo? (What?)

“¿Cómo" works just like "What?" as an abbreviation or shortcut to a question. And it is particularly widely used in the Spanish language. Used with different emphases, it represents very common questions such as: What did you say?; Really?; How did you do that?; Explain it to me again.

Is que tal estas formal or informal? ›

Another version you'll likely here in conversation is “*Hola, ¿qué tal estás?” (informal/singular) and “Hola, ¿qué tal están?* ” (informal/plural). Learning Spanish can be confusing at the start, but remember that you don't have to tackle all the options immediately.

Is Que tal used in Mexico? ›

In Mexico, ¿Qué tal? means “What's happening?” or “What's up?” as opposed to “How are you?” or “How are things going?” as you may have learned in your Spanish textbook or class. So, it's much more casual than the same phrase would be in other dialects of Spanish.

Is que tal como estas formal or informal? ›

What's the difference between this and "como estas"? ¿Qué tal? is a casual/informal greeting (Translates to: "What's up?") Where as, ¿Cómo estás? is a formal. (It is more formal in usted form: ¿Cómo está?)

What is the formal version of Que tal? ›

That is a very informal way of asking and means more 'how's everything? ' ¿Qué tal? is also used in Spain to greet an elderly person. We'd probably use it followed by "don/doña" if we want to make it slightly more formal: "¿Qué tal Don Antonio?"

What is Mexican slang for friend? ›

Cuate, Compa, Cabrón & Carnal

Cuate is slang for 'friend', as is compa, carnal and cabrón. They tend to be used to varying degrees depending which part of Mexico you're in, and cabrón can also be used as an insult at times.

What is Mexican slang for cool? ›

Chido. Chido is a Mexican slang term for “cool.”

What is Mexican slang for drunk? ›

Estar borracho/a (to be drunk)

Estar borracho/a, estar pedo/a (literally to be fart), estar jarra (literally to be jar or pitcher), estar tomado/a (literally to be taken) are all expressions that imply to be drunk.

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.

What is the most common way to tell someone good bye in Spanish? ›

1. Spanish Goodbye Phrases for Formal and Informal Situations. The most common word to say “goodbye” in Spanish is adiós, but there are several other options depending on the situation. In particular, the way we say goodbye tends to vary based on how formal or informal the context is.


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