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    #1

    Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    Hello teachers.

    I have a question. Can somebody give me a logical explanation as to why people stress the "are" in "How are you?" when you're starting a conversation with someone you haven't met in a while?

    I suppose it shows that they are happy to see the person, but is there any grammatical reasoning behind this?

    Thank you for your help in advance!

    th.19

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    It is a normal place to put the emphasis. One could put the emphasis on "you" in response to "How are you?"

    How are you?
    I'm fine, how are you?

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    #3

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    Thank you for your response.

    Is there any reasoning as to why "are" is emphasized, or is it just the way it is?
    (For example, I understand why "you" would be emphasized if your example above, since they are asking in return to the other person.)

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    #4

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    I suppose that, as much as anything, it's because there's no reason to emphasise the other words- we're asking the person, so the pronoun is obvious, and we're not emphasising how because it's the standard word for this question.

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    #5

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    The verb is routinely emphasized in short questions like this.
    "How/Where are you?", "Where/When is it?"; "How/When/When/Who was it?", "Why didn't you?", etc.
    In the progressive tenses and the passive - if there's more to the verb - the stress goes onto the participle or main verb.*
    "How/Where are you going?", "Where/When is it happening?"; "How/When/Where was it found?", "Why didn't you come?" etc.

    * This is not a rule. It's merely an off-the-cuff description of the examples I've given.

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    #6

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    Good question!

    Sometimes we stress the are when we know that the friend has had difficulties - like job loss, divorce, the death of a loved one, or sickness. It shows that we have some kind of genuine concern: "Juanita, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. How are you?"

    But not always! It can also express excitement - especially when we haven't seen someone in a long time: "Henry! It's been years! How are you?"

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    #7

    Re: Why do people stress the "are" in "How are you?"

    I am terribly sorry for my reply. Thank you to all the teachers that gave me answers to my question!

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