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  1. #1
    Kaactus is offline Newbie
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    Default A quick question about sentence meaning

    Dear teachers,

    I hadn't heard from one of my friends (a native English speaker) for a while, so I composed an email last night asking "how are you doing" and received this:

    How Are You Doing is a conventional - even polite - question in greeting, but I dislike giving perfunctory "fine" answers to it, because it feels dishonest to me..

    Does it mean he's not fine? Or is it just an objective opinion that he doesn't usually want to give "fine" answers?

    Looking forward to your answers. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Welcome to the forum.

    He was simply stating his opinion that people ask "How are you doing?" without necessarily wanting to know the real answer. Most people answer that question with the word "Fine" even if their life is turning to cr*p around them! Most people don't really consider that someone is asking after their health or wellbeing. Saying "How are you?" or "How ya doin'?" is frequently just something to say after "Hi" or "Hello". Sometimes we don't even expect an answer.

    Your friend is not saying necessarily that he's not fine. He's saying that he won't say he's fine if he's not.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Welcome to the forum, Kaactus.

    I really don't know what your friend is on about. It seems to me to be a slightly ungracious answer to a reasonable question. Indeed, unless he goes on to say how he is doing, then I think his response is rude
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Yes, it would be interesting to know if he actually had the decency to answer your question in his reply.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    Kaactus is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Welcome to the forum, Kaactus.

    I really don't know what your friend is on about. It seems to me to be a slightly ungracious answer to a reasonable question. Indeed, unless he goes on to say how he is doing, then I think his response is rude
    Hi 5jj, I agree with you, that's why I guess he's not fine... but he didn't continue to say what he was doing, so I totally went clueless and tried to find some help here.
    Thank you for your opinion anyway, nice to meet you

  6. #6
    Kaactus is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Yes, it would be interesting to know if he actually had the decency to answer your question in his reply.
    Yes, emsr2d2, I have a possible answer for this: I used to have some misinterpretation for his words, and he once said that he could understand the translation gap between us. Therefore, I think he sometimes speaks like a teacher, trying to comment on my English skills. It may sound arrogant for other native speakers.

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: A quick question about sentence meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaactus View Post
    Yes, emsr2d2, I have a possible answer for this: I used to have some misinterpretation for his words, and he once said that he could understand the translation gap between us. Therefore, I think he sometimes speaks like a teacher, trying to comment on my English skills. It may sound arrogant for other native speakers.
    It's fine for him to try to help you with your English when replying to your emails but he doesn't have to sound so pompous when he does it. He could have said, for example:

    "Thanks for your email and thanks for asking how I'm doing. Just to let you know - people frequently just say "Fine" in answer to that kind of question. I tend not to do so because it might not be true and I don't like lying to people. Anyway, things here are OK, a few problems at work but otherwise everything's OK. How are you? I haven't heard from you in a while. What have you been up to?"

    That would be the kind of thing I would send to a non-native friend. Still, we're all different.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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